Why Attend The National?

Are we guilty of over-emphasizing our National each year? No way!! The National is the most valuable learning experience on the breed that a fancier can treat himself to. The following benefits listed, although not intended to be all-inclusive, are some that come to mind to this writer as being important enough to warrant consideration of making an effort to attend our National.

1. If you are showing and doing your share of winning, say in a two to five state area, chances are it has become easy to believe that your own breeding program is as good as it needs to be. This complacency, so detrimental to growth and improvement, can receive a jolt of realism when you attend the National and see that a breeder from across the nation managed to achieve better top lines, as an example, from similar foundation stock.

2. Since most of the top-ranked dogs will be there (if the owners are smart!), you will have the opportunity to see in person and to study up close those animals whose ads have caught your eye. Hopefully, you will be able to meet their owners and visit about incorporating them into your breeding program, if that is your goal. Don't mislead the owners, be honest if you are simply only "shopping" or considering, and haven't made a decision yet. It is especially beneficial to arrange to see the dogs in their motel room. Although it shouldn't be construed as a final temperament test, interacting with a dog on a one-to-one basis in an area with which they have become somewhat comfortable is more reliable than jumping on that dog right outside of a show ring. It should enable one to learn more about its personality than merely seeing it in a show ring environment.

3. Although fanciers are often hesitant to share their breeding problems and setbacks through articles and journals, or newsletters, they are often willing to discuss them in person with other concerned fanciers.

4. The non-regular classes offered at specialties provide learning experiences for the observer. Stud dog and brood bitch classes give evidence of the varying degree of prepotency possessed by our leading brood stock, while veteran classes bring life to pedigrees and year book photos. They also leave the sentimental misty-eyed watching the stars of the past gait proudly once more as an admiring audience cheers.

5. If you go to the National as an exhibitor, be prepared to consider any sort of win as simply icing on the cake. Simply placing in a class is an honor at the National, and there are many who feel that even "making the cut" in a class is an honor! More so than going there to win, go to learn and to socialize.

Granted, showing your dogs at the National can be a very humbling experience. It is, however, a chance to see how your dogs rate with others from around the country. You could be in for a pleasant surprise, but of course you can also be in for a rude awakening! Going to the National gives a person new perspective. It's a chance to see where the breed is headed, and what areas need improvement. Another point: dogs that are regarded highly may prove to be disappointing to you, once we have seen them move, how they show, or some other detail that a photo does not reveal. Watching your Super Special perform in the ring has altered many a direction in a breeding program. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then BEING THERE in person must be worth a million!

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