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I've been listening to a lot of Watsky again. Those two lines in particular caught my attention.

Conformation has been an ongoing mental battle for me. I get all excited with the show prep, training, grooming, final ring prep, and always end up walking away with a sour taste in my mouth.

 I find myself thanking the judge, then quickly escaping the scene. Handing a few half-hearted treats to whoever I'm showing while tossing them into their crate and getting out of there. Embarrassed that another show has past with no points, another class win with no competition, or a reserve out of two. Frustrated that my dog was the only one to keep it's feet on the ground for gaiting, and still walked away with nothing.

I don't peg our losses as a total "failure". I usually walk away with something more to work on, or some new notes as to what that particular judge is looking for. That doesn't make the awkward shuffle leaving the ring feel much better in the moment though.

I was skimming through Pat Hasting's book "Tricks of the Trade: From Best Intentions to Best In Show" and came across a tip to new conformation people. Something along the lines of "Winning creates confidence." That line is raw truth when it comes to me personally in conformation.

I've yet to win a single point, the one time I truly felt at ease in the conformation ring was at an unsanctioned match where Knight nearly took Best Adult in Match. I've decided it's time for a good dose of motivation.

This weekend Knight and I will be attending our first UKC Conformation shows. They're much more laid back than AKC, they have strict "no overgrooming" rules so even the ring prep is pretty chill. We're going to go out, have some fun, maybe bring home a group placement or two. It'll be good, just me and the little man, bringing in a bit of confidence and motivation.

I've been "involved" in conformation for 2 years exactly now. It's time I step up my game. If I can be a confident and respected handler in agility, I sure as hell can do the same in conformation.


  1. YES YOU CAN! (and yessss! keep posting ;))
    I love this entry.

    1. Haha, Thanks Nicole! Your comments are always so encouraging! They remind me why I keep a "public" blog :)

  2. Keep trying, it took a few shows before I won my first point, but it will happen. That win can't avoid you forever. Do you have another Pap handler who helps you learn the tricks of the trade?

    1. I have one AKC and another UKC conf show planned for the summer. Then the fall will be more balanced in my Agility to Conformation ratio. I've got dogs to finish (and start lol)!

      See, that's the thing. The AKC conformation papillon circles are very closed. You have to have a person on the inside introduce you to people to be "accepted". They mostly pretend you don't exist, will exchange a hello if you confront them, but prefer to stay in their own clique just talking to their breeder and handler.

      I've been figuring out things on my own, what works best for Knight and Mia, what I think looks good. Selina has much more grooming talent than myself, she helps me out with grooming critiques, handling tips, product suggestions and so on.

      I've also gotten a few tips from one of Knight's breeder's handlers. But I lack an actual mentor right now.

  3. Yeah, Agility is a must side dish of Conformation. Win or no win, Conformation just isn't rewarding enough on its own, for me anyways.

    Ugh, that's too bad. Why do people have to be like that? That must be so hard. Curly-coated retrievers don't have enough breeders/handlers for them to be able to afford to be snobby and exclusive. I got a lot of help from them. At least Selina helps with the grooming, I'm sure that helps a ton. Have you considered attending a Conf. seminar, like George Alston? He's one of the best, and is really, really helpful when it comes to the "younger" generation. I think for juniors, the seminar costs like $75.


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