Sunday, March 27

Life's a bitch female dog

Okay, I can cross another item off my Checklist Of Life Events: attending a Dog Show.

I don't remember where I first saw the notice, but I made plans to attend the Fort Worth Kennel Club Dog Show with HayJax. Sadly, her water heater didn't cooperate, so she spent the weekend sucking water with a wet vacuum.

This brindle Bull Terrier reminded me of a dog I owned a long time ago. Getting candid shots of dogs wasn't hard, although the fluorescent lighting at the Will Rogers Memorial Center made flashless digital photography a real challenge. I could've used the flash, but that that's frowned upon; it distracts the dogs as they're performing their routines.

As expected, the vast majority of my photos were blurry. An examination of the EXIF data (captured as part of the JPEG) shows that my camera's automatic mode took the photos at 1/8th second @ F/4.0; no wonder they are blurred! The few that were sharp enough for "keepers" were shot at 1/15 second @ F/2.8. Had I thought about it (!) I'd have set the digital camera for manual aperture at F/2.8 to at least give me a fighting chance at more usable photos. Compare this to an outdoor photo at 1/400 second @ F/7.1 and it's easy to see the difference.

I should've learned this lesson when I tried taking digital photos at the Mesquite Rodeo a few years ago. Next time (?) I shall take one of my film cameras, which is much better at capturing motion in bad light.

This Golden Retriever and his/her handler Posted by Hello were still just long enough for this one to appear reasonably in focus. In the background, you can barely make out one of the many "show booths" where dog accessories were being sold. I can't imagine that's profitable; the number of people who were there to buy leashes and brushes were probably one in 500, if that.

While scouring the web for information about dog shows, I wandered across Greg Hlatky's voluminous Borzoi Blog which had a 32-part Dog Shows Explained (starting in July 2002 and ending in April 2003). Being the Anal Twit that I can be (at times!) I converted this to a PDF and printed it on standard paper; even at 10 point type, this took 23 pages (using both sides)!

In comparison, there is no way I can do more than convey some first impressions, based on conversations with those particpating:
  1. given a 2-day show with the same dogs, yet different judges .. you can have two wildly different results;
  2. American Kennel Club (AKC) rules are apparently not as rigorous as United Kennel Club (UKC) rules;
  3. today's show was a minor one; only 1 point is earned by the winners;
  4. major shows earn 3 points;
  5. even in the dog world, the males go first (and bitches second);
  6. breeds for whom there are fewer entries have a much better chance at a ribbon (than popular breeds);
  7. in many categories today, there was only a single entrant, guaranteeing a blue ribbon just for showing up;
  8. some people spend as much (more?) time at dog shows as Plano Soccer Moms spend at the athletic field!

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