Of Dog and Model Shows
As many of the regular readers of this column know my wife and I raise dogs (one particular editor actually called this my “dog column”).
Back about ten or twelve years ago we embarked on a whirlwind on the dog show circuit, we had a great dog and a good handler to take him to all the distant shows in distant lands (Tennessee, Toronto, Michigan, Chicago and the list goes on and on, now just to be clear, in Minnesota all those places are distant lands) We also had a few extra dollars in our pockets to participate in the hobby with and trust me this is something that didn’t last very long.
With all those things going for you, how could you go wrong in a hobby?
As we found out, it was a lot easier to have things go wrong than we had anticipated.
First, dog shows, much like model shows depend a great deal on a judges opinion. A dog show judge is biased to certain traits or types in a dog. A judge who was a Terrier breeder liked a choppier gate (this is basically how a dog looks when they move) in the front end of a dog. They liked this because the dogs they have bred and raised have had this gate, where a Brittany shouldn’t. Some like a bigger more substantial dog, others like a smaller more compact dog, these were all opinions and they were opinions that over-road the “standard” that the judge was supposed to be judging against.
In comparison at a model show we have the color police and the model Nazi’s. We’ve all seen them at shows pontificating their great knowledge of all subjects and pointing out the flaws in markings or paint schemes. These are the same guys that will give an award to a model that has a seam line down the spine of the aircraft or silvered decals because the other models had flaws in their schemes or weren’t detailed out to the same extent.
Second, at dog shows owners (watch Best in Show to see a real working example of this) are kennel blind. What I mean by this is that you really love your dog and you find no faults in them (until they start losing regularly that is) and you can’t understand why the judges don’t see the same thing that you see in them. Our dog had a “bitchy” head type (this means his head was slightly more female looking than male looking), this is something we realized early on but soon forgot about when he started winning big.
Modeling is once again very similar. Watch various modelers at a show that hover over their own models. They are so completely in love with them that they can’t help but compare their models to each new model that is placed on the table. After the placement is made they go over and carefully look at the model and begin to point out the flaws to anyone within earshot hoping that they may be one of the judges. It also makes them feel better about their models and their chances when award time rolls around.
Third, the setup. The setup in dog show terms is how you “stack” your dog to display him/her to the judge. You will show the judge your dogs best features first by the way they are stacked toward the judge.
In the model arena the setup or the stack is possibly the funniest of all observed activity. At our last show there was a fellow there that had 5 or 6 kits entered. It took him over an hour to place them just perfectly on the table (which the judges and contest officials promptly moved). As he placed them he carefully examined each of them for the perfection that was him. Unfortunately none of the judges agreed with this fellow’s assessment and he got skunked.
Finally we have the value judgment. As I mentioned in my first point the judge offers up an opinion based on their experience. The judgment on the dog is taken personally. “How could that mean old judge not like my great dog Fifi??” How dare they!!
Well Fifi may be the love of your life and your huntin’ buddy, but the judge doesn’t know that, nor does he care.
At a model show a judge may simply not like what you built (there are definitely judges out there that don’t like Japanese or German stuff and it does sway their opinion) or it simply may not be as good as the other stuff on the table in the judge’s opinion. Either way you are going home empty handed or at least with a lesser award than you felt that you deserved. Also a judge doesn’t know how much work that Pavla kit took or that you took the time to detail the toilet in that B-25J.
When you get chumped at a contest does it ruin your contest day? Then maybe modeling contests (or dog shows) just aren’t for you.
Anytime you compete in a competition where the judging is based solely on someone’s opinion, someone will go home unhappy, that is the cold cruel reality of things. It really isn’t anything personal, even if you want to make it that way. I also have never seen a contest or a baseball or football game where a judge or referee listens to the contestant and then realizes the error of their ways and changes the call. It just doesn’t happen.
We had many a day at a dog show that we had the best dog there by far and lost. There were also those days that we ran up against a former National Champion and won. It was something of a crapshoot and I’m guessing that our little dog ruined as many days for other people as we had ruined for us.
Our bottom line with our dog show experience was this; Charles won over 80 best of breeds and was nationally ranked in both the US and Canada, but all I know is that at 15.5 years old, he is laying under my feet as I write this column. None of the wins changed the way I feel about him, the enjoyment that I had hanging out with him over these last 15 years or the work we put into him to make him a good family dog.
I admit that I have had my share of model experiences, both from a judging side and a contestant side.
On the judging side I have learned that I will occasionally miss things. It’s not intentional it just happens. I have also learned that there are a lot of great modelers out there who take most things in stride and a lot of bad modelers that will almost always complain of getting screwed.
On the modeling side I have learned that it is only an opinion. I didn’t learn this one until I stomped out of a couple shows in a very agitated state. I did learn from those experiences and actually stopped entering shows for a couple of years until I could gain a perspective on what was really aggravating me. I can also say that nothing has changed the fact that when I look on my shelf at a couple of the kits that didn’t do so well that I still have fond memories of the research and the builds of those kits.
I guess what I’m trying to say here is that not everything in life is about winning. Sometimes it’s just about the experience and the people you meet along the way. If you win, consider it a nice bonus. If you lose, always shake the winners hand and congratulate them, no matter how you feel about the results.
One final note about dogs shows and model shows. In my life, I have met some great people at each type of event. People that if I had my head firmly planted in my ass being bitter about the results, I would have missed out on meeting them. I count many of them among my friends today.
Don’t miss your opportunities and shut up and build.