One of the most popular features of my blog, Dog Show Poop, is my DOGS2WATCH list. I am a numbers nerd and rely on mathematical tools for all sorts of things in my life. When my daughter was deciding where to attend college, I used a weight & rank system to assign numeric values to all the schools she was considering. She came very close to choosing the local university that her high-school boyfriend was attending over several academically superior schools. Thanks to that little exercise, she got a superior education, admission to Georgetown University School of Nursing and met her future husband, who shares her values and dreams.
Nonetheless, my DOGS2WATCH list has no such numeric value. It’s more like the nominees for the Grammies Best New Artist or MTV’s Best Breakout Performance. Like those awards, my list is purely subjective. We armchair pundits generally have mixed success in picking winners. If you review my list, you will find the names of many dogs that have gone on to stellar show careers and you will find others that never got to the top. Even more telling are the dogs I missed. The U.S. is a big place with a lot of shows. Every now and then a dog will make into the Top Ten before I can deem it watchable. It’s too late then to make them a DOG2WATCH. That would be a bit like choosing your Best Picture after they opened the envelope.
Most of the dogs had early BIS performances that drew my attention, but not always. 2010’s Number One Dog All Breeds, the Smooth Fox Terrier, GCH CH J’Cobe Kemosabe Vigilante Justice, got my attention after winning three out of four Terrier Groups over the 2007 AKC/Eukanuba National Champion, the Sealyham Terrier, CH Efbe’s Hidalgo at Goodspice, in Florida in January of 2009.
I also look for a team of breeders, owners & handler that can go the distance, but not always. The Irish Setter, GCH CH Shadagee’s Caught Red Handed, had a breeder, owner & handler who were far from household names, but were well-known in their region and in the breed. After Emily won her National Specialty over more than 500 of her breed and went on to win the Group at the 2009 AENC, I had no reservations.
I will usually look for a dog who can win outside of his or her backyard. BACK2BACK BIS are always impressive, but if it’s a local show with no major competition, I will probably wait until another day to designate the dog a DOG2WATCH. At the end of the day, it’s the dog that seals the deal. All great show dogs are eye-catching. I call it “the head snap test.” When I walk through a show hall and glance at the rings as I walk by, I sometimes catch a glimpse of a dog in my peripheral vision that causes me to snap my head around.
So while I appreciate that my readers like the Dog Show Poop DOGS2WATCH list, I encourage you all to walk through the show hall and see what catches your eye…then send me an e-mail or tweet, and tell me about your discovery. And that’s today’s Back Story.