Volunteering as Ring Steward
By Patrick McManus
After a request for help, I volunteered as a ring steward at the Mt. Cheam Dog Show Sept. 24/25/16. What a great experience for a pre-novice handler! I learned three important things:
Firstly – dog show people are really considerate. Starting with Marion Postgate, the obedience judge, my fellow ring steward Bob Macdonald and I were clearly and directly briefed as to what her expectations were. When I say directly I mean Marion did not hesitate to coach me as in “Keep your arms at your sides – arms folded across the chest can be a challenge to dogs!” Marion was clear in her directions and that for me took the guesswork and worry out of what could have been a stressful job. The Dog Show officials were kind and helpful and certainly appreciative of our taking the time to volunteer. Most importantly, the handlers, while focused, were polite and cooperative. There were happy to ask our assistance when needed and often said a polite thank you after they left the ring. I wanted to pay more attention to the dogs but of course did not want to interrupt their excitement or focus.
Secondly, by watching handlers in the ring with their dogs, I learned a lot about what I need to concentrate on and I noticed a wide variety of techniques. Some handlers were energetic and excited with their dogs. In these cases, the handler ’s enthusiasm was transmitted to the dogs who seemed to want to perform well. Some handlers demonstrated that direct commands in a clear voice and a brisk pace got more from their dogs. I was reminded that handlers have to be completely sure about what they wanted from their dogs and then act in a way to get the standard expected. I also noticed that both dog and handler seemed to know what was going on during their time in the ring. I also noticed that handler interaction with their dog before, inbetween exercises and after the ring time seemed to strengthen the bond between dog and handler. Of course this ensured the dog stayed engaged, connected and relaxed as possible with his handler in the ring.
Thirdly, I have a much better perspective on the curriculum of obedience training. Having seen what is expected in Utility, Open and Novice, I can see the reasons for building certain skills well beyond those just needed for my first turn in the ring. By developing and honing these foundation skills I am building for further competition. This has helped me to better understand why we do certain things and has given me a renewed interest in getting the most from my dog during each training session.
Patrick McManus and his one-year old Standard Poodle, “Captain“, are new to the world of Obedience and Training. Pat works with Instructor Linda Moran at TNT Training and is in his third set of competition obedience classes. Linda often emphasizes that play is an important part of training and quick 5-10 minutes sessions 3 times a day results in a happy and successful dog. The culture at TNT is supportive and informed.