I've got a little break right now before the Top 20 dinner starts and all of that stuff begins, so I figured I'd do some posting about at least the first two days that I was here. Sun. my day started off really early because my flight left at 6:00am. Thankfully I only had one stop in Dallas, TX and then it was on to Chattanooga!!
As I went into the hotel to get my room key, there's a fawn great dane puppy in the lobby and dane paraphernalia all around.:) I started getting really excited. On my way out to the building where my room is (did I mention that this facility covers 23 acres??) I saw more LOVELY dane stuff!!
I think you get the idea.;) Once I got all of my stuff settled into my room I got a hold of Georgia (Bess' breeder) to figure out where she was at. She was over in the building where the conformation part of the specialty is being held. On Sun. the Florida great dane club was holding their specialty at the facility. Kind of a "warm up" to the national. When I got over there around 5pm they were slowly working through the specials. Keep in mind that this specialty started at 7 am and was still going on at 5pm and still had a little ways to go! These are some VERY long days!!
After that we got some dinner and settled into the room to get ready for the start of the futurities in the morning. The futurities are a special class for puppies that the breeders feel are going to be excellent examples of the breed. The puppies themselves have to be nominated before they're even born. Therefore, the breeder really needs to know their stuff in order to expect an exceptional litter. There's a whole process for applying to have your litter futurity nominated, but I won't go into that. Just that it's a special class at the national specialty each year. The age of the classes is broken down into increments of two months starting with the 3-5 month puppy classes. This is different than traditional AKC shows where the dog needs to be at least 6 months old in order to compete. And there are a LOT of puppies entered in the futurity. But I'm getting ahead of myself!!
We got up at 5am Mon. morning since the futurity judging started at 7am. I could hardly sleep Sun. night because of everything that was going on Mon., so I was seriously tired by the end of the day! I went and watched the futurity judging for an hour before the Rally competition started. Here are a few of the pictures I was able to snap of those incredibly adorable little munchkins!! (the pictures weren't turning out at all when I used the flash, so I had to go without flash, which meant that the pictures are a little darker and any movement caused them to be blurry)
Rally started at 8am, so jetted off to the building that was being held in. And of course, there were more dane cutouts to greet me!
I wasn't able to take any pictures while I was there. You can't use a flash during performance events because it can distract the dogs and cause them to be penalised. And the lighting was a lot darker than in the conformation ring, so the pictures just wouldn't have worked at all. I would have taken video but I felt a little weird taking video of a dog that wasn't mine and who's owner I didn't personally know. There were a couple of really good performances at the excellent level that were great to watch!
After Rally it was back to the conformation ring for the breeder's education ringside mentoring!! This was a two hour long "seminar" where you're paired up with a long time established breeder who has a good reputation in the breed and who is also willing to mentor a newbie. This was incredibly helpful! First of all, it's always good to get multiple views on aspects of conformation because different people may interpret the standard slightly differently. Their interpretation may help to shed more light on fully understanding things for the person learning. You also are getting a phenomenal opportunity to learn how to asses your breed with a MULTITUDE of specimens!!
I tried to ask a broad range of questions. Everything from shoulder angulation, rear angulation, neck, head, eyes, ear set, spring of rib, movement, lips, and on and on.:) Tiffany was incredibly helpful and I learned several things that I hadn't known before and got a better understanding of others. I was able to take what I learned during that two hours and then apply them after Monday's futurity was over with when they gave us the hands on mentoring. For this, they brought in several puppies of different ages and colors so that we could really put our hands on them and get a physical feel for what we were learning. We also got to get a close up view of movement. How they look going away from you and coming towards you. How they look on their side gait and all the various things that you should look for. Basically a better understanding of how the individual parts come together to make the whole! VERY helpful!!
In between the ringside mentoring and the hands on mentoring, there was more futurity watching!:) There was a slight break in between dogs and bitches, but there was a whole lot of puppies to see! I won't post all of the pictures because that would be a whole heck of a lot, but I'll try to make sure that I cover all the colors that were there!
The entries are so large in the futurity classes (they're large in the normal classes, but especially large in the futurities) that they have to split each age group for each sex up into multiple sections. The judge pulls out the dogs from each section that she likes. All the dogs that have been pulled from each section then go into an additional class where the top four dogs from that sex's age division are picked. The winner of each age group then goes into the winners ring for their sex. Finally, the best puppy dog and best puppy bitch compete for best puppy in futurity. It's a really long process that takes two whole days. Monday the judging went on from 7am to 4:30pm. And yesterday it was 8am to 3pm I think. LOTS of puppies!
I almost forgot that Sunday night was also the welcome party! We got to go eat some yummy foods and chat with everyone before the real national got under way. We even had special wine bottles for the occasion!:)
Phew! And that pretty much wraps things up for Sunday and Monday.:) And with that, I'm off to get myself cleaned up (agility this morning in your typical dirt arena makes for a dirty me even though I was only gate stewarding) and gussied up for the Top 20 dinner and event!!!