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Dog Showing – from Beginners to Winners by Robert Killick
Published by Collins – Price £14.99

Reviewed by Nick Mays,
Chief Reporter, OUR DOGS

THERE’S NO shortage of books about dogs on the market these days, and it’s an all-too-common (and depressing) fact that so many of these are written by ‘TV Vets’ and ‘Celebrities’.

Not only that, they’re full of inaccuracies or blatant anti-pedigree and anti-showing rhetoric, mainly because it’s trendy to knock anything with a bit of class attached to it.

So it is a rare pleasure indeed to come across a book which is not only written by a genuine expert, but one who truly loves pedigree dogs and dog showing.

Of course I’ve know fellow OUR DOGS writer and columnist Robert Killick for many years and have come to admire and respect his knowledge of all matters canine, as well as his intelligent (and frequently acerbic) take on society in general, but I was completely bowled over by the sheer excellence of ‘Dog Showing – From Beginners to Winners’.

Anyone setting out with the intention of acquiring and showing a pedigree dog should, by KC decree, obtain a copy of Robert’s volume, simply because they couldn’t find a better guide to take them through every aspect of the strange old game of dog showing. Robert takes his readers gently, but swiftly, from the very basics of showing, by joining a local or breed club, through to ringcraft and then higher grades of show, including the ‘biggie’ – Crufts. On the way, he explains the intricacies of handling and presenting dogs (with helpful breed charts on whether the dog is Floor, Table, Free Standing or Stacked), how to groom various breeds, plus basics such as feeding, training and socialisation, and of course, how to actually enter a show!

Every page is lavishly illustrated with superb photographs – no grainy images of ancient events here – and useful information boxes. Readers are even told about up to the minute developments in the show game, including Challenge Certificates and CC policy, the Pet Passport Scheme, European Dog Shows and current Rules and Regulations.

One of my favourite chapters concerns ‘Entering The Ring’, where the would-be exhibitor is taken through the whole process of what to do when actually in the show ring, with tips on dress, etiquette and a useful list of things to avoid. To the seasoned exhibitor, these are all things we might take for granted, but think back to when you started and the faux pas you made then – Robert steers his readers through the minefield of the ring and helps them to avoid such pitfalls.

In between the main chapters of the book are self-contained profiles of some of the more notable Crufts BIS winners from recent years, going as far as the 2002 winner – and the first ‘overseas’ dog to take the top gong in dogdom, Standard Poodle Topscore Contradiction. In common with the rest of the book, each segment is written with a breadth of knowledge and affection that you simply don’t find in any other book on dog showing.

There are, of course, some truly Killickian touches to the text, such as advice to ladies on avoiding plunging necklines in the show ring, as well as a tongue-in-cheek warning: "Beware!

Showing dogs can change your life and become an obsession." And sage words of warning, which every dog exhibitor should write down and keep in their wallet: "… some people become so obsessed with winning at dog shows that they get quite bitter if they do not succeed. This is not only foolish but counter-productive, showing your dog should be fun…

Relax, it’s only a dog show, a good day out and, with a bit of luck, you’ll win something."
A magnum opus of a book which will endure for many years to come and certainly encourage and inspire a genuine dog lover to try this showing. For the sake of the Dog Fancy, that has got to be a very good thing indeed!

DOG SHOWING – from beginners to WINNERS

available from the OUR DOGS online shop