Going into battle

Everyone who shows a dog goes to win. Of course we do, or we wouldn’t get out of bed at ungodly hours to travel the length and breadth of the country to show our Borders.
But it’s the learning that counts. None of us has all the answers, so it pays to watch carefully and try to follow what a particular judge is looking for and how they go about their task to arrive at their winning dogs.

Show equipment and coat preparation

Your dog needs to look his best. Shows are, after all, beauty competitions. You will need to be equipped with a suitable travelling crate for your car to ensure the safety and comfort of your Border. There are many types of crate on the market and the two most popular weekly dog newspapers carry advertisements. You will need a water dish and a water supply for your dog, an old towel, some disposable poop bags, a show lead (not a conventional collar and lead), a ring clip to carry your ring number, which you will be given by the ring steward when your class is called; a comb – for the dog – and perhaps some reward titbits, and sandwiches for yourself. And a good sense of humour.

Adult Borders generally need to have a dead coat taken out twice a year. You will recognise the time when the hair at the shoulders begins to part and is easy to tweak out between finger and thumb. Send in show entries for those shows which will give time for the coat to grow back – most do so in about 9-10 weeks, some much quicker and some much slower. The large all-breed Championship shows can often be more than £20 per dog per class, so spend wisely!

If you are need advice about show preparation, visit the Border Terrier Club website www.borderterrierclub.co.uk where there is a regularly updated list of professional groomers and exhibitors who will advise, or hand-strip a Border.

Wear sensible clothes. Ladies, noisy high heels and plenty of bling are fine for walking the Border at home, but not in the show ring. Be smart, complement your dog’s appearance, buy flat shoes or low, quiet heels, a calf length skirt (for bending over!), trousers, a gilet or waistcoat/fleece with pockets for comb and titbits, and no dangling necklaces which will hang over the dog and create a distraction.

There is a huge variety of show leads available; at larger shows many trade stands offer them much cheaper than on the High Street. Find one that is not too long, is supple – perhaps made of nylon or soft leather – and is comfortable for the dog. Don’t use a conventional collar and lead. The only piece of grooming equipment you will need on show day is a grooming comb which fits into a pocket.