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diane@superhounds.co.uk 
Summer is finally here and with it comes the influx of various dog shows all over the Capital. The question is, what do you do if your dog is a mixed breed or maybe a little on the veteran side? Can you still take part? – Of course you can! 
Various companion dog shows take place throughout the Summer. Companion dog shows normally have an emphasis on fun rather than being competitive which are based on faults or competing against other dogs of the same breed according to the Kennel Club breed standards. Any mixed breed dog is exempt from taking part in Pedigree Shows and rivalry is normally high which is why we enjoy the more relaxed approach of fun dog shows, open to everyone, young and old, 2 and 4 legs. 
 
The phrase ‘companion dog’ normally refers to those dogs that do not ‘work’ a such but are kept as the household family pet rather than for it’s usefulness or for performing specific tasks, hence the title of Companion Dog Show. Now don’t get me wrong, entering a category of a companion dog show is not always as easy as it sounds, but it can be fun for you and your dog can also get a huge amount of pleasure out of it too. 
 
I have judged many Companion Dog Shows and thought I’d offer some tips on what us judges are looking for… 
 
First and foremost, regardless of whatever category you enter, the health and welfare of the dogs is considered. I feel its important to look at the overall health of the dogs entered. Overweight dogs, those that have poor conditioned coats or very overgrown nails don’t really show a good example of responsible dog ownership. 
 
Secondly, I look at how the owner or handler look after the dog whilst in the ring. During the Summer shows, it can get quite hot and owners or handlers who show a commitment to keeping their dogs cool and well hydrated get a further thumbs up from me. I always try to see where they base themselves out of the ring – on a blisteringly hot day, opt for shaded area and you may get extra points as well as a cooler dog. 
 
Everyone likes a story and as a judge I am no different. With Companion Dog Shows, many dogs entered are mixed breeds and are often rescue dogs from various centres across the UK. I’m a sucker for ahard luck story and so are many other judges. Now this doesn’t mean you can start making up an elaborate hard luck back story about hoe you saved Fido from being run over by a train, having been chained to the train tracks and how you made a mad dash to release him as you saw the train approaching, saving him with seconds to spare… however, for those who have made a particular difference to a dog who would otherwise have found it hard to be rehomed is always a bit of a tear jerker and can swing the balance if the judge is unsure. 
 
Some people like to dress their dogs up for categories like ‘Best Fancy Dress’ and whilst I am not really one for over humanising a dog or dressing him/her up in doggy clothes, I do like it when owners take pride in their dogs appearance and having nice clean collars and leads or those who decorate their collars with one or two fresh flowers or maybe a hair clip to keep long hair out of their eyes can be an unassuming winner. If you do dress your dog up, make sure they are comfortable wearing it and are not too restricted. 
 
The main thing about taking part in a dog show is that everyone has fun, both dog and owner/handler. Everyone wants to be a winner and unfortunately there can only be 1st, 2nd and 3rd in most categories – not everyone can hold up a rosette but everyone can be happy that they took part. If you are a winner then Congratulations!, if not then don’t be despondent. There are lots more shows to attend and enter. And don’t forget to be polite to your judge – especially fi it’s me! 
 
So there you have it – some top tips for your next show. Some people find it intimidationg and cannot muster up the courage to enter – well, you’re missing out because it’s a huge amount of fun and like the old sayong says – you have to be in it to win it. Grab the bull (dog) by the horns, dog by the lead and enter at least one category. You just never know… 
 
Talking of categories, there are generally 7-15 categories ranging from any of the following: 
 
Best Puppy 
 
Best Junior Handler 
 
Best Rescue 
 
Best Cross breed 
 
Handsomest Dog 
 
Prettiest Bitch 
 
Best 6 legs 
 
Best Trick 
 
Most Appealing Eyes 
 
Best Veteran 
 
Waggiest Tail 
 
Best Fancy Dress 
 
Dog the Judge Would most Like to Take Home 
 
Best In Show 
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