3. Day – The Great Dane Show

The tents around the ring
The Mobilhomes
Jeffs Mobilhome
Dogs, 12-18 Month
Bitches 12-18 Month
Open Fawn Dogs
Open Blue Dogs
Open Blue Bitches
Open Black Bitches
Open Harlequin Bitches
Best of Breed Class
Best of Breed Class
Best of Breed Class
Best of Breed Class
Best of Breed Class
Best Brindle Dog
Run and Stand
She`s A Knockout
She`s A Showgirl
Choosing Winners Bitch
Choosing Winners Bitch
Winners Bitch with Linda v.d. Vijver
Winners Bitch at the 2. Day: She`s A Knockout, Handler: Jeff Lawrence
Reserve Winners Bitch
Winners Dog: Captain Barbosa, Handler Jeff Lawrence
Reserve Winners Dog
Best Opposite
Choosing BOB
Best in Show: She`s A Showgirl, Judge: Linda v.d. Vijver, Handler: Patrice Lawrence
"Double Handling"
Jeffs Motorhome ìnside
Relaxing after the Show

Next day it was clouded over, the temperatures were about 23º C – the ideal weather for a dog-show. We were collected for the show about 10.30 o'clock at the hotel and were brought to the show-grounds. This was situated on a wonderful and vast camping site with many meadows, a lot of parking spaces for motor homes, very well equipped, air-conditioned washing rooms and a small restaurant. There was a big showring around which the exhibitors had built up their tents, a long stretched tent for the showring preparation and, in parallel, on one side of the ring a long tent in which the dogs could stand during the judging. So all dogs could be directly in the shade – pleasant for the animals, the Handlers (these are the people who show the dogs in the USA) and the judge. Linda directly started her judging, I found a nice spot at the ring side for myself, and from where I had a good view I could see everything.
I greeted Jeff and Patrice whom I knew we had spent a great time when I met them at the Crufts Dog show in Birmingham GB, and other breeders whom I had got to know in California. Though America is tremendously big, the Great Dane, Handlers and Breeders know each other throughout the country. As Linda’s friend Ì was accepted everywhere and taken up in the circle of friends – a sign, that Linda was appreciated and loved as much in the USA as she is in Europe and how everybody values her opinion.
A Dane-Show in America is run differently than here with us. First the "sweepstakes" are judged early in the morning. These are young dogs (up to 18 months) which are prepared and trained mostly for their show-career. They are judged by a judge's candidate (who must be gain experience for his judging career). The sweepstakes are divided into Puppy’s from 6 to 9 months and from 9 to 12 months and junior from 12 to 15 and from 15 to 18 months. The prizes are "Best Puppy", „Best of all juniors“and „Best of all in sweepstakes“. Different than with us, money prizes can be also won here. All dogs that are entered to the sweepstakes must be also entered in the regular classes of the show. Therefore, Linda and I could not see the sweepstakes this morning.
After the sweepstakes it starts off with "Regular Classes". And already while looking through the catalogue the first differences strike to our exhibitions. Linda had to judge 99 dogs – Dane Specialty was qualified as a "major". In a "Major" show there are five points for the best bitch and the best dog ("Winners Bitch" and "Winners Dog"). For the title „American champion“one needs 17 points. For this there is no time limit and no minimum age for the dogs. Because most shows take place in the USA because of the big distances on four days following with four different judges, it is theoretically possible to become an American champion on one week-end (what practically never happens, however). The classes with such a circuit are as follows:

  • Puppy’s from 6 to 9 months and first all dogs of any colour, stand together in the ring, then follow the bitches of any colour together.
  • Puppy’s from 9 to 12 months
  • Junior from 12 to 18 months
  • Amateur or Owner-Handler, in all colours (the dogs are ordinarily presented in the USA by professional Handlers like Jeff and Patrice they showed more than 20 dogs on this day. The Handlers are paid for presenting the dog and receive a successful premium)
  • Bred by Exhibitor, so only the breeder can owner handle at the show in this class
  • American Bred, the dogs who have been bred purely from American lines

In all these classes always only the dogs and then the bitches of any colour are judged together. Then there are the open classes in which also the juniors may be presented. The open classes are divided in

  • Open Black (all the black Danes)
  • Open Blue (all the blue)
  • Open Brindle
  • Open Fawn
  • Open Harlequin and
  • Open Mantle (the mantle is valid in America as an independent colour).

Here we find again the judging after colours as known in the FCI. First all dogs are shown. Then the best dog of the show was selected from the first-placed (from all twelve classes and all colours, so also from the Puppy’s). The best is "Winners Dog" and gets 5 major points. The assignment of the reserve points occurs like with us: From the class from which "Winners Dog" has been chosen the second-placed dog moves up, so that again 12 dogs stand in the ring from which the judge must choose the reserve-best of the show.
After a short break there is exactly the same procedure with the bitches.
If "Winners Bitch" is chosen, the veterans are brought forward. Here there is only one differentiation between dog and bitches, no differentiation in colours, so that all colours stand together in the ring. Then the champion's class follows, called Best of Breed Class. In this class dogs and bitches of all colours who have gained a champion's title come together to the ring. The veterans as well as the champions receive no major's points. They can win the titles „Best of Veterans“ or "Best of Breed".
Like two years ago in California, the peace and discipline impressed me the way the show is run in America. Every Handler knows exactly, when and in which order he has to go into the ring, everybody stands without request directly on his correct place. And while one class is still in the ring, the dogs of the next class are prepared in the holding ring. At the temperatures which mostly amounted to more than 30º C it is especially important to hold the animals cool and comfortable. In the further preparation or holding tent the Handler takes over the animals from the owners. Every Handler is equipped with a cool box that stands in the holding tent and is filled to the edge with ice cubes. In these ice cubes lies a cloth, like a window fleece, which is draped over the top-line of the dogs to cool them down and is fastened under the belly and in front on the chest, like a horse blanket. This way the overheated animals cool rather fast. Another trick to avoid a collapse of the dogs with this huge heat is Spray bottles. These are bottles, like a plant-spray bottle which are filled with ice-cold water and spray a tiny fine veil of mist. They are also kept in the cool-box on ice. With this cold mist the Handler sprays the dogs head, legs and belly, before they enter the ring. Besides, a little fog on your own body can also do no harm in this heat. I have tried it – it refreshes delightfully and cools the body for a few seconds.
Prepared this way, the dogs come in to the ring refreshed and without panting. First the whole class presents itself to the judge – from the side in profile, not like so often with us, head-on. Then the dogs run two whole rounds. And, besides, it appears that the American Handlers are professionals and go forward very fairly and sportingly. Always the first asks before starting to run the following whether they are ready. Judging and valuing the dog’s proceeds very fast. There is no judge's report; the judge notes possible anatomic construction faults.
Teeth are checked, the whole body is felt, and then the dogs start running. As a rule the handlers do not run, like with us, in a circle, but in a triangle. Long ring side, short ring side, and then diagonally to the judge. With the last step the dog stands in perfect show-manner directly before the judge. Then a diagonal is run once again – away from the judge and back to him. While one dog still runs, the following Handler has brought his dog already in the perfect show position, so that the judge can turn directly to the next animal. All that runs smoothly and quietly and without big words.
The dogs were trained from the Puppy age. Already at the age from six to eight weeks the puppies are put on a table daily during five minutes. The command "stand" they learn so playfully, because first they must stand only very still and quietly, without sitting or to lying down. If this works, the next step comes: The puppies are put in the right position, foot after foot. To the command "stand" then follows the command "stay". For the presentation of the long, curved neck and the ears mostly cropped in America the Handler use quite a special trick: They have always dry liver in the pocket, a titbit the dogs like. A little piece of liver held before the nose, then raise the hand with the liver – and neck and ears are already in perfect position. Also the running is coached from childhood. Often used is the command "follow", and the dogs run without compulsion without pulling and without tugging from the ring beside the Handler. Also here the liver works miracles of course in the right hand of the Handlers with the whole expression …
With the last steps from the diagonal to the judge there is the command again "stand" (the commands are different from Handler to Handler), and already the dog does what he has learnt: He places himself in perfect show position directly before the judge. The dry liver helps of course also here …
Actually, it is super fluent to mention that the showed Danes are very well maintained. The nails are extremely short. They are cut at least once a week and filed. Many breeders and Handlers use a Dremel for the nail care. One practically never sees dogs with dull fur or tracks of hair loss. The animals are brushed regularly and washed. And as cultivated as the dogs the Handlers appear: Men in suits and tie (also at 30ºC), the ladies in dress or costume (once in a blue moon in a trouser suit). You don’t see shorts and T-shirts here in the ring
The Danes in the USA have a lot what we miss in our Great Danes more and more: A huge size, a very good top-line with straight firm back, a nice croup and a well set tail, a long, arched neck and a narrow, long stretched head. If the missing stop was criticised years ago with the American Great Danes, is not the same today any more the stops have improved.
The heads are very expressive and noble – so, as they should be. In comparison to our Danes the American lines are somewhat narrower in the chest, nevertheless, the depth of chest feels well.
All together the animals look very harmonious. Also the angulation in the rear is more than o.k... What you do see is that the scapulas are too far apart, the shoulders could have more layback. Many dogs thereby stand a little bit straight in the front. The movement is excellent with almost all dogs:  well reaching in front with a good drive from the rear, together with a very firm top-line, a nicely carried neck – it is simply a nice picture to see these dogs movement.
With the huge number of the entered dogs some have particularly struck me. First a fawn dog, just 14 month-old, with an excellent ring presentation and a great movement. The dog seemed to float almost in the ring … Then "Captain Barbosa" also became not only under Linda "Winners Dog" and received 5 "Major" points, but the next day reached the same result under another judge and completed his points for the American championship. US champion at the age of 14 months – this is an achievement …
With the bitches a blue bitch persuaded me pleasingly. Her name „She `s A Knockout“  as mentioned in the catalog: This bitch struck me properly. She towered above all the other bitches (who were also not quite small) about nearly ten centimetres. Nevertheless, full of substance and athletic, she showed a lot of nobility and elegance. So, just as a Dane should look in my opinion. Then "She`s A Knockout“ also became first in the class "Open Blue Bitch", nevertheless, became second because "Winners Bitch" on the first day under Linda went to a wonderful harlequin bitch called "Four D's Ms Ice", (on the second day this blue „She `s A Knockout“ went "Winners Bitch" and received 5 major points). The harlequin bitch, "Four D's Ms Ice", fascinated by a pure-white colour, a very good pattern distribution without any grey, a lot of nobility and elegance and a wonderful movement. "Best of Breed" in the champion's (BOB) class went to a blue bitch on this day. „She `s A Show Girl“, a half-sister to „She` s A Knockout“(the same mother – „Dixie Chick v. Saravilla”), made all honour to her name: She was convincing by a ring presence which put all the other dogs in the shade. One had to look at her simply over and over again …
The "Photo shoot" follows with American shows at the end of the judging. The winners of all twelve classes (dog and bitches), Winners Dog and Winners Bitch, the reserve winners, the best veteran and the dog with the BOB from the champion's class are photographed together with the judge and the winning rosette. And what is considered unacceptable during the judging, the Double-Handling, here during the shoot it is a must to get the best picture.
So that the dogs, who are as tired after a long day of showing as well as Judge and Handler, present themselves from her chocolate side, people called, whistled, hopped and animated holding and sometimes throwing the stuffed animals around.
With so many dogs who must be photographed here (on every photo a board with the gained result is also illustrated beside the Dane on the ground, at the same time this placement Win must be changed every time ), such "a  Photo shooting" lasts endlessly long. I had asked the photographer, an amusing man called Phil Steele, whether I may also take a photo of the Winner and got the permission. Thus I also hopped in the ring and shot many nice photos.
After long and strenuous hours (less for ourselves, because I could sit calmly in the shade when rather for Linda and the Handler, which brought forward partly ten and more dogs) we let the day end quite comfortably in the circle of the breeders and exhibitors with a cool drink.


3. Day – „After Show Party“


3. Day – „After show party“
The fact that the American breeders and Handlers are a tight knit community was apparent during the day’s judging. And how pleasantly welcoming it can be in the evening in these circles, we experienced today.  Linda and I were invited to a taco party on the camping site. A good opportunity to get to know not only the dogs outside of the ring but also the owners and breeders. Most Handlers  travel in the USA with big motor homes from show to show, long and wide like a normal coach, often still with the option to widen the inner surface by extending  the bay windows after arriving which gives you a lot more room These motor homes are fully air-conditioned and equipped "appropriately for dogs". Jeff permitted an insight into his mobile home to let me see.  On the journeys to a show it turns into a long vehicle and is followed by a luxury passenger car, so that they are mobile when required and must not park with the motor home in supermarket parking bays or drive the narrow local routes.  Inside the Mobil-Home is equipped comfortably: Kitchen, office, computer with Internet access, two comfortable bedrooms and bath, a comfortable television corner – nothing is absent.
However, the "dog department" is most impressive. At one side of the vehicle big Benches are side by side for the Danes – six dogs Jeff and Patrice can take this way. Also on that side, are the dachshunds of Patrice and the eight-year-old harlequin bitch Simone. In front of the motor-home four big Benches are under a sun shaded blind here the dogs are accommodated in the evening hours if it becomes chillier outdoors and pleasant for them to be outside with more legroom. Then everybody spends the night again in the air-conditioned Motor-Home.  No breeder and no Handler leaves his dogs unobserved – who goes away from his motor-home and brings his dogs from the outside back in and closes the door.
In this evening the whole Show community met before the Mobil-Home of Marshal and June Stoner famously known for their breeding Lost Creek Great Danes Sue and Steve Mahany, partners in breeding with Marshal Stoner and June. One of the best known American fawn breeders. Everybody brought something: Nachos, dips, salad, tomatoes, drinks, Margherita’s, chairs, mugs, plates. Then we could sit in a comfortable circle together, enjoyed June’s famous, home-made tacos, slurped Margheritas and talked about the Great Dane breed. Here I learnt not only a lot about the American Dane people and their dogs, but also about the show training. In this circle we also met Melanie who had judged the sweepstakes on this day and lived in the same motel as us, only two doors down. Melanie took us home after the Taco Party. On the way home we stocked up with wine and chips, and sat together in front of the Motel’s at a Picnic table till 1 o'clock in the morning. That evening Cheryl joined us with her black bitch Agnes who had become second today and first- in the Open Black Bitch class. Agnes was in season, and she did not feel like generally appearing in the ring at her best. „She was `nt up“explained Cheryl. Though Agnes was not "up", but cuddly … We got to know this evening not only a lot about Danes, but also about cosmetics. Melanie represents a Swiss cosmetics company in the USA and explained to us that even the products of Pantene, Garnier and L’Oreal which there are in the USA and in Europe even under the same name do not contain the same ingredients The reason: The norms of cosmetics are much higher in Europe, and in American products are included contents materials which would not correspond to the European norm. Also the declaration regulations for contents materials are used in America more laxly. Again learned something new …