SUCCESS: HARD WORK MEETS OPPORTUNITY
THE ROAD TO MAKING A CHAMPION
"(Success) is preparation. Everything else is beyond
~~ Richard Klien
By Kathy V. Moll
Deep River Collies
Last time we discussed training and grooming, both of which
are extremely important. Equally crucial are proper conditioning
and sound decision making. Without both, all of your previous
hard work may go for naught. Experienced collie breeders/exhibitors
and professional handlers use these tools to their advantage,
and so should you!
What goes into your collie is more important to coat quality
than all the products and concoctions that money can buy. Proper
feeding is paramount. Select a premium food with a proven reputation.
Minimal supplementation is needed; a mix of Omega 3 and 6 fatty
acids is all you'll want. Here's the easy way: combine equal
parts olive, vegetable, canola, safflower, and flaxseed oils
in a thoroughly washed dish detergent bottle. A clockwise swirl
on your collie's food daily will do the trick. Food soaked in
hot water with a little canned is the best choice. Safe bones
between meals will keep teeth clean. It's essential to put your
hands on your dog's entire body daily to check for proper weight,
and adjust food amounts accordingly. Some collies do better
with divided feedings while others thrive on a once a day regimen.
Old school thinking was that too much bathing is bad for collie
coats. Actually, the opposite is true. Weekly brushing to the
skin and bathing keep skin and coat healthy and promote growth.
Bathe with a mild shampoo diluted at least 50% with water. Air-drying
is okay if the collie has lost its undercoat, but it is absolutely
necessary to use a power blower once the undercoat is in. Dry
to the skin and brush thoroughly. Your collie will come back
into coat much more rapidly if you bathe weekly.
Exercise is the second requirement for the best possible conditioning.
Ideally, a large fenced area and a canine playmate give adequate
exercise. Long, brisk walks with your collie are good for both
of you. Roadwork is rarely needed to keep your adult collie
in optimal condition and is not good for growing puppies. Normal
play is best. Keep your collie's outdoor environment as natural
as possible for a long, healthy life. Check the rear thigh muscles
for firmness to monitor how well his/her conditioning is going.
Lack of firmness means that more exercise is needed.
Deciding when to start your collie's show career is an important
consideration. Typically, 6 to 9 month puppies may not be ready
to win points but need some show exposure to prepare them once
they are ready. Take your youngster to local shows for fun and
practice. Socialization is critical. Neither matches nor training
class can really simulate the sights, sounds and smells of dog
shows. If your puppy is from a slow maturing line, take him
to local shows periodically while you wait for maturity.
Once your collie is ready to win, you'll need to start picking
your shows. Your mentor can guide you to judges that typically
like dogs from the line. Showing under judges not likely to
consider your collie is a waste of your hard-earned money. Keep
a record of the shows you attend and how your collie placed.
Deciding to owner handle or hire a professional handler is an
important choice. The decision involves a number of considerations.
You may feel that finishing your own champion is crucial to
your sense of accomplishment. You may be someone with a natural
grooming and handling talent. Perhaps you get a special feeling
of exhilaration when you're in the ring. You may be able to
travel extensively enough to finish your own collie.
On the other hand, you may prefer to hire a handler to present
your prospect. Again, take the advice of your mentor and other
long-time exhibitors when selecting a handler. It's simpler
to get your collie back and forth, if the handler is within
driving distance. If the best choice is farther away, then leaving
your collie for the show season may work for you. Select someone
with appropriate facilities, someone with a reputation for excellent
care at home and at the shows. Select a handler who has a rapport
with the dogs under his/her care, someone who has genuine love
for our breed. Of course, a winning record and excellent presentation
are essential as well. Above all, select someone who will be
honest with you.
The cost and time required to finish your collie will depend
on such factors as preparation, presentation, show selection,
quality of competition at the time, and luck. The cost may be
about the same regardless of whether you show yourself or use
a handler. While handling fees, board and expenses add up, so
do gas, motels and food to show your collie yourself. If you're
smart, you'll put aside money from the time your prospect is
a baby to use later for show expenses. It's frustrating to have
your dog trained, conditioned and mature and not have the funds
available to finish him/her.
Next time we will wrap up our discussion and tie up loose ends.
I'd love to hear from any readers with specific questions about
the first seven articles that I can address in the eighth. My
email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Kathy Moll of Deep River Collies has been breeding Collies
since 1974. She has owned or bred between 70 and 80 collie conformation
champions, approximately 30 to 40 in each variety. She also
earned the Collie Club of America Presidential Award for Smooth
Collie Breeder of the Year for 1998 and was tied for the same
award for Rough Collie Breeder of the Year in 1999.