The Lady is for Showing
By Michael Pesare
published in the December, 2000 issue of Skye Ways,
a Canadian Skye publication created and edited by Karin
* Title provided by Skye Ways
The Skye Terrier Club of
American National Specialty Sweepstakes is always an eagerly
anticipated part of the Montgomery Weekend. The Sweepstakes
competition is a wonderful opportunity to benchmark your young Skye
against the other youngsters coming along and to present your Skye
to a knowledgeable audience. Skye breeders and exhibitors view the
Sweepstakes as a bit more relaxed opportunity to simply enjoy the
exuberant puppies as they make their way around the ring filled with
competition can be defined as: "a non-regular class, usually
offered at specialty shows, which is specifically designed to
recognize outstanding young dogs and puppies." Thus, dogs
competing in sweepstakes are not eligible for AKC championship
My wife, Maida and I
were looking forward to this year's sweepstakes competition because
we had just completed a satisfying summer showing our precocious
youngster, Sophie (Gleanntan Sonsie Socialite). We have been devoted
to Skye Terriers since 1990. In this time, we have finished 10
champions and have bred one litter under our kennel prefix, Sonsie
Skye Terriers. We have taken a few of our youngsters to Montgomery
for the Sweepstakes competition. In 1995, our Ch. Gleanntan Sonsie
Solway Maid went Best Junior in Sweepstakes under breeder/judge
Moira Barrass of Scotland.
As many Skye Way readers
will attest, the journey from bitch to early socialization to forays
into the show ring can be filled with the greatest highs and
heartbreaking lows. For Sonsie Skye Terriers, Sophie's young show
career has been one of the most enjoyable experiences of our ten
year love affair with the breed.
When our close friends
and mentors, Ben and Donna Dale (Gleanntan Kennels, Reg.) used our
dog, Ch. Gleanntan Great Gatsby ("Fitzy") at stud, we were
intrigued by what the outcome might hold. The dam, Ch. Gleanntan Gee
Whiz, is the littermate of "Michael" (Ch. Gleanntan Gee
Whillikers, who is the #1 Skye Terrier in the United States in breed
points and group points - 2000. Since our goal is to preserve and
build upon this bloodline, we began to consider the possibility of
taking on one of the girls from this 3/4 Gleanntan breeding.
Fortunately, the litter contained four bitches and two dogs, all
with the strong breed type we hope to carry on in future years.
After the litter was
whelped, Maida and I had many opportunities to observe the litter
and we were given the extraordinary opportunity to select our
"pick" bitch. In recent years, we have graded litters at
Gleanntan for our own education and it has been fun to watch the
youngsters mature to see how our picks have turned out. Early on, we
gravitated towards Sophie based on two attributes: balance and
overall soundness. At four months of age, she joined the crew at
Sonsie and was named Gleanntan Sonsie Socialite - the breeder's
kennel prefix, our kennel name and "Socialite" because of
her sweet, outgoing temperament and to carry on the theme of her
father, who is named "Great Gatsby" as a tribute to F.
Scott Fitzgerald's novel.
To prepare Sophie for
the show ring, she received considerable socialization and even
attended a few shows where she was cuddled and kissed by
puppy-lovers. I also practiced gaiting her in our yard which is
nestled among acres of apple trees. Sophie developed a liking for
the small apple tree twigs that can be found in nearly every row of
trees. With a twig firmly placed in her mouth and head held high,
Sophie enjoyed strutting her stuff!
In July, at six months
of age, we entered Sophie is her first show for continued
socialization and training. Much to our surprise and delight, she
went Winners Bitch for a 3 point major. During the months of July
and August, we entered her in a few more shows and she accumulated
13 points towards her championship, including three majors. Sophie
also achieved a Puppy Group First in a strong puppy field in August
and Best Puppy in Match at the Columbia Terrier Association of
Maryland's annual match - an event that attracts the top terrier
breeders in the Baltimore/Washington area. I attribute Sophie's
match success to the twigs that I strategically located in and
around the ring at the most opportune times.
At the Montgomery
Specialty on October 8, Airedale Terrier breeder/judge Virginia
Latham Smith was presented with a field of 8 (3 dogs, 6 bitches with
one absent) Skye puppies ranging in age from 8 months to 16 months.
She awarded Sophie Best Puppy (under 12 months) in Sweepstakes.
Sophie then returned to face the Best Junior in Sweepstakes (12 to
18 months) dog. From the two winners, the judge then selected Sophie
Best in Sweepstakes. What was most satisfying for me was the fact
that Sophie showed better on this day than she had in all of her
previous outings. She was "on" - attentive, animated and
loving her time in the ring. And once again, her favorite apple tree
twig was offered at times and carefully carried in my pocket at
A couple of weeks after
Montgomery, Sophie acquired her final two points to obtain her AKC
Championship, thus earning all of her points from the Puppy class.
We could never have predicted such a quick start for this pup but
have come to admire her qualities and the role she will play in the
future of Sonsie Skye Terriers and Gleanntan Kennels.
While Sophie finished
rather quickly, she is an exception rather than the rule for our
breed. Her confidence and outward view of the world was apparent
right from the start and she took to the show ring with ease. I also
made sure that I did not ask more of her than she was capable of
giving at such a young age. A positive experience every time she
went into the ring was of paramount importance. Some puppies are
slower to acclimate themselves to the show ring. These Skyes require
a more gradual approach with incremental increases in intensity. The
ultimate goal is to maintain a positive experience for handler and
dog and not let the short-term goal of an individual show supercede
the longer term career of the dog.
Perhaps one of the
greatest challenges of showing dogs is to develop a rapport with a
Skye and an understanding of his/her individual traits so that you
can present that dog to its fullest advantage in the show ring. This
is especially true with Skye Terriers - you, as handler, must first
earn their trust and respect. It is not a given. This foundation is
necessary for show career that is enjoyable and successful for you
Sophie is now at home
resting on her laurels and taking her turn as "bed bug."
She will make an occasional appearance in the Specials ring just to
be sure that she does not forget the expectations of the show ring.
But mostly she will move gracefully from puppyhood to adulthood as a
treasured member of the Sonsie clan.
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