By Alxe Noden. Dogwise Publishing. $12.95.
Have you ever wondered if your dog has what it takes to win in the show ring? Or have you pondered what’s it like to gait a dog in competition?
Noden finds herself asking those questions after acquiring a young Great Dane from a Florida breeder and being told it has show potential. Her intent, in which she nicely succeeds, is to give the reader “a sense of how to get into showing dogs, and what you can expect once you start.”
Getting a second respected, yet unprejudiced, opinion if Kunga is show-dog quality is the first hurdle she must clear before making the decision to move ahead or simply leash the move right there and keep this big, blue boy as a family pet in Colorado.
Obviously, you know how that comes out. Keep in mind, the author has never owned or handled a show dog, which is the foundation from which this volume is built. Noden takes the reader through handler classes, then the character building of losing often, admitting “our relationship as owner and dog was truly tested as we continued to show and lose.”
The frustration of competing against professional handlers, the implied favoritism of some judges, the enormous costs of heavy campaigning and the psyche of winning are all addressed within the framework of this portrayal.
“Winning is addictive, like gambling. The strange thing about winning at a dog show is that you’re not responsible for the win, the dog is. Yet we get a rush when we win,” she emphasizes. “Winning is really about the ego of the people, not the dog. Though there are dogs who love to show and light up when they get to prance around the ring, it’s the people who care about the win itself.” The cost of winning is enormous, she asserts, from financial to keeping the family intact because of the virtual nonstop show calendar.
And in case you’re wondering, it’s Champion Kunga now. The giant Dane gains that distinction at the same Denver cluster of shows where he first stepped into the ring.
With an adventurous spirit, Noden portrays the complex show-dog scenario in a rich, sobering context that captures the essence of the sport for both the casual and committed fan.