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Scary Moments in the Ring

Nerves are a bizarre thing.

It seems that we never realize we’re nervous until just moments before certain situations are about to happen. Right before a performance or, yes, just before we enter the ring for an important show, the nerves can get really bad. Our thought processes rarely include planning for something drastic or scary to happen but, sadly, they do. We just never know exactly how or when.

People who claim they just don’t get nervous always surprise me. I’m not sure if that’s possible, because I, for one, know that I do. Well, I definitely have in the past.

We’ve all had scary moments while in the show ring. When they happen, we just have to remember to collect our “cool” and try to stay calm.

Here are some scary moments that seem fairly common in the dog show world.

Junior Moments

As if there aren’t enough nerves around the juniors ring! When something scary and unexpected happens, it’s like the icing on the cake – but in a bad way. Luckily juniors can usually depend on family and friends for support!

When you’re first learning and showing in juniors, you’re constantly trying to figure things out. Where do you put the bait? Do you need your brush with you? Should you be stacking your dog right now – or relaxing? There are so many details to think about.

It’s crucial to have everything in order so that your nerves are calmed before you enter the ring.

As a former junior with a table dog, I experienced a lot of anxiety about whether or not to put my dog on the table before the judge told me to. I’ll bet this is something many juniors have struggled with. I always stuck with waiting, but you just never know. Try to trust your instincts and assess the situation before you find yourself next to be examined.

This may sound odd, but all of those unexpected surprises you encounter along your journey will help you in the future. You’ll learn from each one, and they’ll make you even more prepared when it happens again. Make sure to turn to your support system in case your “Plan A” goes wrong – and never forget to smile!

Height Requirements

For me, a Beagle girl – and for all the people showing dogs that have height regulations in their standard – we all know how scary it can be when you see the judge pull out the wicket. Being wicketed, or having your dog measured, is rarely a fun experience, especially if the dog is truly within the height requirement. There’s no denying this can be a scary moment.

It’s hard to remember that one reason judges may be using the wicket is because they see potential in the dog. They may simply want to be thorough and correct in their judging procedure. Most of us jump right to the conclusion that the judge may be thinking our dog is oversized, but this extra stress only makes our nerves worse!

Whoops!

A girl’s worst nightmare is to trip and fall in the ring. I’m crossing my fingers that this never happens to any of us but, then again, it’s practically bound to happen sooner or later.

Have you seen how fast those German Shepherd handlers run? Nothing is worse than when they go down, since there’s real potential for both the dog and handler to get hurt. When it happens, everyone in the ring usually stands around wondering, “Should I help or give them space?” I’ve been in this situation before, and I figured out that it’s a good idea to let family members or the people in charge help out in this situation.

Oh yeah, be careful not to run into the ring gates or tent poles. This can be very painful!

Another scary “whoops” moment is one that we have to take the proper precautions to prevent. Yes, I’m talking about those unforgiving doggie accidents that sometimes happen in the ring. This is always a no-no! Slightly embarrassing, yes, but if you assist a handler it could potentially get you into trouble. Nothing is worse than holding up the judging for a potty break!

These are just a few examples of scary, not-so-fun moments in the ring that can get us worked up and stressed out. Eventually we just have to face the fact that these sorts of things are bound to happen to all of us every once in a while. All we can do is learn, laugh and continue on!

Scary moments like these may not rule but, don’t forget, Dogs Freakin’ Rule!!!!!

Written by

Kayla Bertagnolli is a 23-year-old from Ogden, UT, who's been involved in the dog show world her whole life. A former junior handler who learned about breeding Beagles from her mother Leah, she assisted several professional handlers and is currently working to become a Junior Showmanship judge. Kayla is passionate about photography and writes the twice-weekly blog, DFR. She plans to continue breeding and showing, and expects to stay involved in dogs "for life!"