Trophies are a fact of dog showing life. This is especially true in performance events like obedience. At the average breed show, the group winners might get an actual award as well as Best in Show, but regular breed winners don’t unless someone specifically sponsors an award.
Our obedience club even offers a High Score award for EVERY breed. It takes a lot of work – the awards are hand made with the breed embroidered on them but people love getting an award. A qualifying score is required (AKC does not allow any official awards for less than qualifying scores) but you don’t necessarily have to beat anyone.
You can give funny awards out but they have to be given at the end of the event. A local herding club gave out two awards as “judge’s choice” at the end of the day. One was mint jelly and one was duck sauce – for the dogs that the judge felt deserved them. I leave it to your imagination to decide what sort of runs earned those awards!
If you talk to people who win, and win a lot, at breed shows, they speak of gift cards, gas cards and cash with longing. For those of us who get an occasional big win, we like awards like chairs with our win embroidered on it so we can sit ringside in the future and “look good”. Most everyone would just as soon avoid silver that has to be polished and cared for, as well as dusted, but – if that silver comes from a big win at say, Westminster, we could suck it up and dig out the polish.
Our county 4-H dog program used to give out the “Golden Beagles”. These are sort of the canine version of a winged victory. They were inexpensive and could be ordered at a discount along with the cattle, sheep and horse trophies. 4-Hers were thrilled with their very first Golden Beagle. By the fifth, the kids were less enamored and so were the parents who often had to dust the Beagles. Little girls with Shetland Sheepdogs wanted Sheltie trophies, not Beagles.
Luckily a parent came up with a great idea that our local AKC club, Central New York Kennel Club, agreed to sponsor. Now the kids at the county fair in the dog program get books for their awards. Trick books, basic training and grooming books are all very popular. We order through Dogwise.com for a big selection. As a side benefit, the dogs are better trained each year, as families do read and use the books!
If you are looking at your very first award, you love it no matter what. The German Shepherd Dog trophy I got for 4th place from Novice A at a Shepherd specialty still holds a place of honor for me. My memory seems to recall a score in the low 170s and only four dogs in the calls, but hey, we qualified!
Then, there is the acrylic tulip I won for High Scoring Belgian Tervuren with my first Terv, Wile E. We even had a nice score and placed in a good-sized class as I recall. The relevance of the tulip, which comes apart for easy cleaning and storage, is unknown. I was told it had been donated quite a while before I moved to upstate New York. The donor had looked through a dog book and thought a Belgian Tervuen looked like a nice dog. So, the tulip was donated. I have wondered if this was a case of “regifting” or “redonating” as it were but it was Wile E’s first award.
This same donor offered beautiful crystal goblets for High Scoring Alaskan Malamute, with the stipulation it had to be given out in the ring. Now, I know a lot of very nice working Malamutes, but having to walk out of the obedience ring, through a crowd of dogs and spectators all the way back to your crate with a Malamute by your side and a delicate goblet clutched in your other hand is not a task for the faint at heart.
More on trophies – both good and bad – to come!