LR: Welcome to Pure Dog Talk, I’m your host Laura Reeves. Today, we’re going to talk about a couple of the most difficult pieces of any dog show day: win photos and outfits. I KNOW, I feel your pain. So, let’s start with photos, we have all been there. Ok, the huge win, the perfect moment memorialized forever, you count the days until that photo mailer arrives, or you look it up on line, and you open the photo in anticipation, and Oh Dear God. I look like Jabba the Hut. Ok, the Good Lord knows my pile of photos will never see the light of day, is daunting. I don’t consider myself photogenic on the best of days. And even the good pictures, I’m obsessing about some detail that nobody else is even gonna notice. So, a while back I talked to a few folks in the sport and got some really great tips on how to make this a much less painful process for everyone. With a little work, we can all improve the potential for an awesome win photo. From Warren and Vicki Cook, show photographers here on the West Coast, best advice: smile. Warren says he sees people all the time that are so concentrated on their dog in that moment, that they forget that this is supposed to be fun. Have fun. Ok you need to practice your smile in the mirror, His description is a power smile, one that says: of course you liked my dog, everybody does. I loved the input that he provided about where to look or where to stand with your dog during the photo. He said if it’s a standing or a table breed, you should be more towards the back, the tail end of the dog with your body, and that this makes the photo flow instead of everything being bunched up in one place in the front. And it allows you to kind of tilt the top of your head away from the camera, that tightens up the neck skin. Trust me, there’s multiple advise items here on double chins, so, just saying. And then he says that you should either look at your exhibits head with your confident and calm smile, or look at the camera. There’s a difference of opinion about look at the dog, look at the camera. Everybody has a side to this topic, I personally lean towards look at the dog, but you know, do what feels right in the moment. Back to the whole double chin question, very important, Warren’s comment: don’t tuck your chin. He’s right, this isn’t a good look, so we avoid this one. Ok, so now if you have a down breed, so like a Setter or something like that where you have to hold the tail and the head at the same time, you’ll likely find your body is sort of in the middle of the dog. So, as best you can, turn your shoulders a little bit towards the head end. Once again, do not tuck your chin. Women, darlings, please remember that the flash goes under the dog too, so if you’re wearing a skirt, it’s a good suggestion to turn your knees towards the head as well. Great suggestion for men that I would not have thought of: if you’re leaning over a dog rather than getting down and kneeling with it, make sure you have a tie clip. Otherwise, that tie is gonna possible tickle the top line and the dogs gonna break out of his stack, And I love this one: don’t watch the hand holding the tail, it’s all connect, ok? So, if you were holding the tail in the right place 2 seconds ago, it’s still in the right place. And again, some more really good advice for table breeds, be aware of patterns in your blouse or your top, or where the belt line in men or even women, shows about of behind the top line of the dog. These can be distracting, and from across the ring when the judge is first looking at your exhibit, might give a bad impression that’s kind of hard to shake. So, put your dog on a table at home, kind of see where your outfit puts the whole element of that picture, by looking at the dog with one eye. How cool is that? This is what the camera does, and frankly, most people have a dominant eye, so they’ll see the dog 1st from a distance with one eye as well. Warren’s advice on stacking the dog for the photo, and this is my advice for stacking a dog when you’re training it anyway: when you first go in the ring, when you’re setting up for a photo, establish the outline, set the left front, left rear. Right? Outside front, outside rear, we talked about this in our very 1st podcast about stacking your dog. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, the same thing applies. There are some places, according to Warren, now I’ve not personally encountered this, you’re not going to get a lot of time with your show win photographer. So, know your dog, establish the dog at the proper angle for that individual dog, and then be sure that you tell the photographer, nicely, where you’d like them to be, to shoot the angle that you’d like them to shoot the dog. If they disagree, maybe you could just ask them to do it your way first, and then you can try shooting a different angle if they think that one still doesn’t look good. Another show photographer that’s been around for ages, Meg Kalea, same thing: practice in a mirror. Practice your smile in a mirror and remember what it looked like, and what that felt like. And a lot of times, and I find this to be true actually, it feels like you’re over the top, but it comes across really well on a photo. And a good friend of mine Karen Calgary is an owner/handler of Belgian Tervuren, don’t wear dark clothes with a dark dog. And we talk about this in other places, not just for the photo, but particularly in the photo, it’s very hard to get any distinguish-ment of the dog and see the dogs outline if it blends into what you’re wearing. So, think about that when you make your outfit choices, and we’ll go into that a little bit later. Women, check your face, make sure your make-ups good. Stand up straight, we talked about this and back to the double chin thing, Karen’s advice is pull your chin up and out slightly, to remove the extra chins. She likes to call it: smiling like you’ve won the power ball. Another friend of mine, Blossom Scott-Hinde is a professional handler, again, her recommendation: practice in the mirror. And her advice is press your tongue to the roof of your mouth to help do-away with double chins. Cool, right? And finally, Karen Evasook who’s candid dog show photographer and she’s an ad designer, again, practice. And I love her comment: you need to be able to make your face into a pleasant visage by rote. So, in other words, you have to just automatically go into that perfect smile. You practice everything else, you practice stacking and gating and grooming, practice smiling. And she had another wonderful tip I thought. Use selfies. Use your phone for selfies not to post all over social media, but to see what that smile looks like when you do it a certain way. Know how that looks and what your face feels like, and she also suggests, and I think this is a really good one, it’s tough sometimes, but if you want to chat a bit with the judge, that you do that after the photos are taken. Not while you’re trying to concentrate on getting the dog set-up, and looking good and all the rest of it. Ok, there you go. I know for a fact that I’ll be locking the door before practicing my pleasant visage. But hey that’s alright, old dogs learn new tricks every day. And a lot of thanks to our experts out there, really appreciate your excellent advice. And as a corollary to photos, let’s talk some more about clothing. First and foremost, we need to understand that our sport deserves to be treated with respect, period. Business professional is the order of the day. Jeans, short skirts, high heels, dangling jewelry, those are great for a night out, but not a trip around the dog show ring. We’re going to spend a lot of time in the fairer sex here, because let’s be real, our troubles are mighty. I’m gonna start with you guys. I’m certainly no clothes horse, and my version of sartorial splendor makes most of your average fashionista’s just blink. But, even with that, I will recommend against polyester anything, anytime. Great example, I have the most adorable guy that bought 1 suit so he could owner/handler the Wire Hair Pointer I sold him. And this guy, he’s road crew, rough, errrr. Iowa guy. And he fully expects to be buried in that self-saved suit, but by God, as he says, it was a decent wool blend dark suit that could be dressed up with different shirt and tie on different days, and it worked right for him. Make the investment in a decent suit. Maybe add a couple pairs of Dockers and sports coats or something for those hot outside shows. Buy 1 shined up pair of comfy loafers, and boom, you are good to go. Now, on the hand, on the other hand, women struggle with everything from skirt, to pant suit, classy, fashionable, and comfortable. Please, girl. Shoes, oh my gosh, ok. So, here’s some more input from our Photog experts, Warren again says: dress as if you were applying for a loan at a bank, and your grandmother is the loan officer. Excellent. Ladies especially, take a really good friend with you when you shop for clothes. And let us all remember that what is tight and tucked in, might not be so when you’re bending and twisting and running around the ring, ok? If you could play a round of tennis in the clothes you’re showing in, they’re probably the right amount of looseness. A great tip, and one that I see a lot of people miss, and that is the long flowing skirts, detract from your exhibit. So that’s perhaps a no, ok? Another one I love from Warren: jewel colors look good with dogs. So, the jewel tones, the sapphire and emerald and ruby, and like that. And you want to try not to have too much reflection, so shiny suit Saturday, not always a great plan, although we love it. Red dogs and red or orange outfits are not good according to Warren, but blue dogs and blue outfits are fine, go figure. If, for example you have an Afghan Hound that is black, and lacking in coat down from the brisket, a black skirt of black slacks would help minimized that, and would be the exception of standing towards the rear of your dog in photos or when you present the dog, very good observation. Ok, back to our very real girl struggles. Number 1 on the list, hose, or no hose. Ya. My rule personally, 80 degrees or less, yes to nylons. Above that, not required. I’ve shown at a lot of really ugly, hot, outdoor shows, but there’s one that just completely stands out in my mind. We were in Wisconsin in July, it was 105 on the thermometer and 85% humidity, literally. And the group judge that day was none other than one of my idols, Mrs. Michelle Billings, oh dear Lord. Ok, she was the Jackie O of dog show judges, there was no way I could go in her ring without wearing hosiery, so I dutifully slithered into a pair of suffocating nylons just long enough to get through the group, which I won, fortunately. 30 seconds after the win photos, those nylons were gone, and the Best in Show photo looks like I’ve literally been dipped in a vat of Olive Oil, that was just a miserable day. So again, do what makes you feel comfortable, while still being respectful to the sport. An unwritten rule, that people may not know about for men and really for women too, if a judge removes their jacket in the ring on a hot day outside, that’s an Olly Olly Oxen Free to do the same thing for the exhibitors. So that’s just something to be aware of, if your judge in the ring you’re going into, boom, you’re good to go. Another one, bait bags, no. Just no. I don’t mean to be unkind, but that particular option is essentially unprofessional and it’s clumsy and it marks you immediately as an inexperienced handler, just putting it out there. Buy outfits with pockets, learn how to put a piece of bait in your arm band. I absolutely refuse to encourage the raw bait technique, I find it incredibly awkward on multiple levels. For that matter train your dog, train your dog to stand up and not need a whole lot of bait, there’s another option. Ok, suits, separates, skirts, pants, everybody has an individual style, that’s not really all that important. These are very personal decisions, your basic defining principle needs to be professional, comfortable, appropriate. A side note here, I beg of you women, friends: do not succumb to the old wives’ tale to win by cleavage. It isn’t pretty, and it isn’t classy. Now I’m not saying we have to dress like nuns, but for heaven’s sake, less is more, alright? We aren’t here to see the handler and/or her adornments. We’re here to see the dogs. Distractions from your dog are not in your best interest. Finally, shoes. Now, on this one, I really cannot stress enough, remember someday, you too will be old, ok. Take care of your feet, and by taking care of your feet you take care of your entire body. And if you do that as a young person, much more likely that your body will hold up until at least a reasonable middle age. Spend money on shoes, it’s worth it. Buy shoes with proper arch support, proper fit and comfort that aren’t going to leave you crying at the end of innumerable hours on concrete floors. Personally, I’ve been burned more times than I can even begin to count, because I wanted to have new, comfy shoes for that big deal show. Like, example, Orlando just in December. You know, I still haven’t learned. Six hours, definitely not comfortable. Learn from my advice, please, do not take new shoes to a big dog show. At minimum, if you really want to wear that super cute pair of matching shoes with your outfit, great. Bring an old, trusty, reliably comfortable pair of shoes with you, wear those all day and just change into the fancy ones for that half hour, whatever you’re going to be in the ring. There you go guys, I hope this helps. For future reference these are issues of great importance, but seriously, comfortable, professional, classy and don’t forget to smile. This has been Pure Dog Talk wishing you pretty pictures and fabulous outfits in the near future.
As always, if you have any questions or input, we’d love to hear from you. The show notes and links to resources on today’s topic are available at puredogtalk.com. Drop us a note in the comments or email to Laura at puredogtalk.com. Remember guys, this podcast if for you so if you want to know something, give me a holler, we’ll do podcast for you. If you wouldn’t mind, you could help me out here, take a couple minutes to visit iTunes and give us a review. This will help share the love with others out there in the sport. This has been Pure Dog Talk with your host, Laura Reeves. We hope you can join us next time as we continue the journey to success with your purebred dog.