As a non-dog show person, I was admittedly nervous going to a big dog show like the AKC/Eukanuba show. I don’t know the lingo. I don’t know how to conduct myself. I was worried that if I admitted I was as clueless as they come and didn’t know a triangle from a drum that I might be laughed out of the place. After all, dog show people aren’t like the rest of us, right? They’re kind of stuffy. Pretentious, even. Out of touch with all of us regular folks slumming it in the trenches.
As it turns out, though, I couldn’t be more wrong. The dog show people I met are- get ready for it- just like anyone else, plus ribbons. They are dog lovers first and foremost, who just happen to have a hobby I’m still learning about. Take Michele Molnar, for example- the lady of the hour, owner of London, this year’s winner at the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship. I asked her if I could interview her for the blog in advance of the show’s air date this weekend, and she immediately accepted. She’s fun, accessible, and above all a total dog lover.
That’s Michele in the killer red dress. Anyone who can rock red sequins like that is good people, that’s what I say.
And what about the man of the hour himself, Grand Champion Jaset’s Satisfaction- aka London? He held himself with such composure that I think all us bloggers were all a little scared to go up to him after his big win, concerned that perhaps such a dignified gentleman might be mortified to be surrounded by the great unwashed masses.
Well, all of us except Susi (of course). Here she is attempting to stare into his soul. Kind of like when you see the tourists at Buckingham Palace trying to rattle the Queen’s Guards. No dice.
But much like his owner, London is totally down-to-earth. Sure, when he’s on the job, he’s all business, but when he’s at home with handler Ann Rairigh, guess what he likes to do? Sip martinis? Sit around with other poodles and scoff at the hairless breeds? Actually, according to Michele, he spends the day romping in the yard, barking at squirrels, playing with toys, and taking naps underfoot.
His favorite toy, by the way, are his squeaky toys. Left to his own devices, he pulls out all the stuffing and covers the house with white squeaky toy guts. See? A troublemaker just like all the rest of them. And lest you think he only likes to hang out with other poodles, his BFF is Bucky the Pomeranian.
“The biggest misconceptions I think the public has that people involved in dog shows aren’t every-day people,” said Michele. “If one started talking to the exhibitors, one would quickly find out that for the majority of us are involved in dog shows as a hobby. We have lives, a day job, etc. outside our passion for dogs.”
That hobby can be time-consuming. London spends, on average, 2-3 weekends a month at dog shows, wowing judges. And as you can probably surmise, prepping a standard poodle for a show can be a bit labor-intensive. The distinctive clip is a matter of form following function:
“Not many people know that the poodle was originally bred for hunting,” says Michele. “The trim allowed the poodle to wade through the marshes and not get caught on brambles and weeds, but kept all the major organs and joints protected from the chill of the water.”
But on show day, London’s not exactly prepping for a mud run. He needs to be picture-perfect:
And that takes a bit of time. “Grooming for standard poodle that is going to be shown starts with a bath, a blow-dry and scissoring a few days before the show,” says Michele. “Feet, face and if it is adult, legs are shaved. Then at the show we re-brush and scissor to make sure the shape is perfect. With all the prep time before we even step in the ring, we can put in 3 to 5 hours in on a single dog.”
But the time and effort paid off when London, who turns 4 in mid-March, took the grand prize at the AKC/Eukanuba show.
“We didn’t even dare to dream that he would win Best in Show. With having won both the variety and the Non-Sporting group the day before, we already were on cloud nine. Who could ask for anything more?” says Michele. “The line of the dogs in Best in Show were the who’s who of competitors and any one of them deserved the win. So when Judge Polly Smith pointed at London and Ann, it quickly became an overwhelming emotional moment. Complete disbelief and tears as ‘We couldn’t believe it was happening’, as it was beyond our wildest dreams.”
Happy pup, happy owner, smiles all around. Just another loving dog owner, see? Plus ribbons. Big ribbons.
And an upcoming spot on the Big Bronze Trophy.
Thank you again to Michele Molnar and London for giving me a behind the scenes look at the life of a champion! Best of luck to Team London as they head next to Westminster!
London and Michele are online at Facebook and on Twitter, where they will be joining the Twitter party for the AKC/Eukanuba show when it airs on Saturday on ABC. I hope you all get a chance to hop online and say hi during the air date and see London in his A-list performance! If you have any questions for London or Michele, feel free to post- they have been super nice about answering them.