First off, some of you may recall my blog piece titled ‘The New Handler – the Journey to the Show Ring’. It tells the tale of how I started off and how the journey of my beloved four-legged companion becoming a Canadian Champion was full of ups and downs. However, if I have learned anything in the last three years, it is that hard work, determination and perseverance prevails in the end.
When Jackwyre Walking Trouble (aka Victor) earned his Canadian Champion title, I was beyond ecstatic. I couldn’t believe that I had handled him all on my own to his title. As soon as I came out of the ring that day, my mentor and coach gave me a fist pump and said: “What’s next?”. I never hesitated or thought about it. I simply replied “Grand Champion!”.
Later that evening when I got home and the excitement settled, I realized “Holy hot dog, he needs to earn another 20 points. We’re starting from scratch.”. I stared at the bedroom ceiling and thought: “Why not? Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”.
The first thing I tell anyone new I meet is one of the toughest components of showing a dog is not convincing the judge you have the best dog; it’s convincing yourself that you have a champion; that you do indeed have the best dog. If you don’t believe it, why would you expect anyone else to. It doesn’t mean you don’t see your dog’s imperfections; it simply means you focus on their perfections. Focus on your strengths as a team and also just as importantly acknowledge there is always room for improvement. For instance, even after Victor earned his title as a Canadian Champion, I continued with classes as I knew there was still more to learn. There is always room to grow as a handler.
Residing in the province of Newfoundland & Labrador presents a challenge when it comes to showing your dog. Unlike other provinces, where you can jump in your car and visit a neighboring province and take in a show weekend, for us it means a plane ride or a trip on the ferry (not always a glorious time). With a limited number of clubs within our province there are only so many shows a year to partake in. In essence, it means when it’s show weekend, it’s game on.
After earning his title of Canadian Champion in May 2018, I knew the next chapter in our journey might take a little longer. Failure was not an option for us. The option was accepting that point by point, we would earn the title and we would do it with I being the exclusive handler. There was no greater bond and I believed in time we would achieve the title of Grand Champion.
That summer, we did 4 shows in July at the Newfoundland (All-Breed) Kennel Club and then 4 shows in early August at the Conception Bay Kennel Club and we earned a few points. However, it was time to hit the road. With that we jumped aboard a car with friends and drove for 10 plus hours across the province, took the deluxe ferry ride and did the Halifax Kennel Club Shows and the Dachshund Specialties on Labor Day Weekend. Pure exhaustion would be an understatement. From that Friday to Monday, we competed in 7 shows in total (5 all-breed and 2 specialties). You may be wondering how many points did we earn. Brace yourself – a whopping zero. Oddly enough I felt honored to simply be able to compete at a specialty alongside some of Canada’s finest and despite not earning a point, I thought to myself “The points will come in time, we just have to persevere.”. However, I had an epiphany on the way back home, we still had a ton of work to do.
I got back home and competed in every single show the following year that was offered and believe it or not on August 10th, 2019, just a little over a year from our Canadian Championship title, I proudly announced Jackwyre Walking Trouble was a Canadian Grand Champion. When I called and confirmed the points with CKC, the lady on the other end of the phone must have laughed at my excitement. See we didn’t always win or come in first place or even win a Best in Show. However, what we did do was not accept defeat. We did not allow the losses to define us. Every time we placed, I knew we were one step closer and that is what I focused on.
When I announced on social media our outstanding accomplishment, someone asked: “What’s next?” Once again without hesitation, I replied “Well of course some titles behind his name.”. We have our eyes set on possibly rally obedience or agility.
In closing, my words of advice are simple: “Defeat only defines us, if we allow it. Winning is always within reach, just be willing to put the time and effort in. In the end, every dog will have his day.”. I hope you are all fortunate enough to be able to say that one day that special dog comes along who changes everything as Victor did for me.