I was passing around some pictures of my dogs and me as a possible illustration for my newest book coming out from Archway Publications that I titled “My Love Affair with German Shepherd Dogs” when one of the members of the group asked me about this picture, “what do the ribbons mean?” So I explained.
I tend to forget that what I know about dog shows, dog training and competitions is not common knowledge. And that the ribbons I proudly displayed in my home were unintelligible to my visitors.
This is what this picture means:
Here I am standing proudly displaying two tiny ribbons, with my dog Kristie sitting by my side. We have just finished going through the paces required to demonstrate that Kristie knows and obeys these commands:
Heel: Walking on my left side, her head parallel with my knee as I walk at a normal pace. She is to remain in that position when I run, do an about turn, and turn left or right. When I stop, she is to sit immediately. She passed that test.
Sit stay: I tell her to sit and remain sitting as I walk away from her. When I stop and turn around to face her, she remans sitting. When I call her to “come” she immediately comes to me and sits in front of me. When I tell her to heel, she returns to my left side and sits. She passed that test.
Down stay: This command is identical to the “sit stay” except she is to lie down instead of sitting down. She passed this test too.
So, those tiny ribbons meant she passed this basic obedience test and was the best out of all the dogs competing.
Only there were no other dogs that day. She was the only dog competing.
This was the one and only time Kristie passed these tests. Every other time, when there were other dogs competing with us, she would neither “sit stay” nor “stand stay.” Instead, when I would give her the command to “sit stay” or “stand stay” she would drop down by my side correctly, but as soon as I moved away from her she would trail me to the other side of the ring. This happened time after time, dog show after dog show.
So embarrassing! After all the training!
Not only did we practice these exercises at home, but we took several obedience classes to prepare her for the show ring. She always performed perfectly at these classes no matter how many dogs were in the ring with us.
But when it came to a dog show where it counted, she would follow me across the ring.
It was this one and only time that she performed her obedience exercises perfectly at a dog show in front of a judge. And only because there were no other dogs competing that day.
Is it any wonder I was proud?