Between the litter, losing coat and my starting college, Queezle didn't get in the breed ring much in 2009. Literally, we got to two days of shows! This was a huge drop compared to the previous two years, where we showed enough for her to be ranked as one of the Top 25 Belgian Tervuren in the US. So you can imagine that I was excited for the three-day Nickel City Cluster in Hamburg, NY.
It felt so good to be back at a show. As Queezle and I walked in the building, I relaxed, and I could see her go, "Oh! A dog show!" and settle into the routine. She is very good about walking through the crowds - either she follows me or goes straight ahead, not bothering any of the other dogs and occasionally sniffing people's pockets to see if they have food. We crated with some other Terv people, caught up on how everyone's dogs were, and settled in for the weekend. On Friday one of the male specials (term for dogs that already have their Championship), Wayne, took the breed. I cheered for him in the Herding Group with all the other Terv people while Queezle snoozed in her crate.
The next morning Tervs were on early. Though I don't like mornings much, I can handle them for dog shows. Queezle just needed a quick fluff and puff after her thorough grooming the day before, and we were ready to roll. In Best of Breed there were three male specials and the Q. After going over all the dogs and having us gait around the ring several times, the judge pulled Queezle and I out to the front! He then called out the Winners Dog (the best male who doesn't have his CH yet), choosing him for Best of Winners. Next he pointed to one of the male specials, intending him to go in the third slot as Best of Opposite. Instead, the handler tried to bring his dog up in front! Queezle and I both puffed up, but luckily the judge corrected him before I had to. In the end Queezle was indeed given Best of Breed, which meant we could go on to the Group!
Queezle and I both love showing in the Group. For the Groups they open up two of the rings, so there is plenty of room. This is great for large dogs and ones with good movement, as you have tons of space to stretch out. And to me at least there is very little pressure - once you've gotten out of the breed, anything beyond that is icing on the cake. You have already gotten a stamp of approval.
So in we went, making sure we were behind the larger and faster dogs such as the German Shepherd and Bearded Collie. As it turned out, our position in the lineup put Queezle and I at the corner, where there is a diagonal strip of matting that meets the two long mats. I like getting the corner as it allows you to set up your dog so that it can be seen well no matter which side of the ring the judge is looking at - and in the Group ring getting noticed is often the hardest part. I also sometimes tell Queezle to stay and then step back so I am hidden by the dog in front of us, which draws attention because it looks like she is in the ring all by herself. After the first look, the judge started going over the dogs and Queezle and I settled down to wait, which consists of doing tricks to entertain both Queezle and the crowd and, whenever we were at a good point in the matting, posing the Q so the judge would see her while watching another dog do its down and back.
When the dog ahead of us went for the down and back, I stacked Queezle for her exam. Our judge, Janet Turnage Nahikian, asked us to do the down and back going the long way of the ring. As Queezle is very clean coming and going, we went all the way down. When we got back to the judge I had Queezle freestack. Her front was off, so I told her, "You can do better than that!" She fixed it and the judge laughed, then sent us around to the end. After that we were on break for a few more dogs.
The final look is when the suspense really builds, with all of the handlers trying watch their dog and the judge at the same time. She went down the line slowly, pulling out some of the dogs. She pointed to Queezle! Glad to have at least made the cut, we joined the other selected dogs at the other side of the ring. Once she finished her cut, the other dogs were excused. She looked the six remaining dogs over, then sent us around again. After looking at the dogs a moment more, she pointed at Queezle and I and said, "One." I beamed and we flew out to the little Number 1 sign, Queezle leaping in the air and our friends outside the ring screaming!
Though Queezle and I have won the Group before, it is still incredibly exciting, and I was on cloud nine. I had been hoping for any placement, and never would have expected getting first! After doing our photo I put Queezle in her crate to rest up while we waited for Best In Show. All of our friends were thrilled, and I called my mom at home to let her know the good news.
Sadly, we did not go Best In Show. The judge ended up going with the very nice Rottie. Queezle didn't mind - in her opinion she is always Best In Show. One of these times we'll get it.
The next day Queezle took the breed again, and while everyone else packed up to go home we lounged about waiting for Group. Just because we did well the day before didn't guarantee anything, so I didn't have my hopes up too high as we entered the big ring once again. After examining all the dogs, the judge pulled out the Australian Shepherd, Queezle, the Old English and the German Shepherd. After looking at the lineup once more, she said, "That's how I want it - one, two, three, four!" The only thing better than getting the Group II was seeing the face of Bryan, a friend of ours who was showing the Aussie. He couldn't believe it! Since it was getting late, Queezle and I ended up heading home after wishing him luck in Best In Show. The results still aren't up, but I don't think he got it because there haven't been any posts to our local Aussie list.
Two Group placements, and one of them a Group I, was a fabulous weekend. In honor of her stardom, I got Queezle a large roast beef sandwich on the way home. She says it's about time she got some appreciation!