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The Magical World of Dog People
by Amber Short

Amber ShortIf you are a junior with parents who are not what we would call “dog people,” you may feel like Hermione from the famous Harry Potter book series, a uniquely talented young person with “muggle” parentage. Actually, the dog fancy is a community not unlike J. K. Rowling’s magical world. It is filled with its own unique jargon, like “gait,” “bait,” and “stack.” Just as Hogwarts students are sorted by the magic hat into their houses, dogs are placed in groups based on their common traits and skills. And sadly, there are some people like the Malfoys who regard a dog’s bloodline as more important than its individual character and quality. Though there are breeders, judges, and handlers which have molded and protected the sport of dogs like the famous witches and wizards of Rowling’s realm have done for magic. No doubt, just as in the Potter fantasies, there are certain peculiarities belonging to the dog world which stick out to the newcomer, but often go unnoticed by veteran fanciers—be they young or old.

So, to lightheartedly caution and inform fanciers who count themselves “newbies,” and for the amusement of those who unabashedly live and breathe the dog show life, here is a list of indicators that signal to everyone that you, indeed, have become a “dog nut.”

  • You have a plastic bag tucked into a pocket of each pair of jeans.
  • You spend more time deciding on which shampoo and conditioner to buy for your dog than for yourself.
  • Every outfit you own wound up in your wardrobe because it looks great with your dog.
  • You know your dog’s heritage and family tree better than you know your own.
  • You know where all the state and county fairgrounds are, even in a few adjacent states.
  • You don’t bat an eye when someone uses the word “bitch” frequently and properly in a single sentence. (Bonus points if you don’t blush or giggle either.)
  • When your friend points into the ring and comments “What a handsome stud,” you know your friend is talking about the dog, not the handler.
  • You’ve learned how to keep a piece of chicken or beef meat product tucked in your cheek without vomiting or drooling.
  • You can identify what breed a dog is from behind.
  • You can tell what jump height a dog is without measuring it.
  • Before you make weekend plans with your non-dog friends, you have to see if there is a dog show that weekend.
  • When you get out of the shower you dry yourself off with a towel that has the name and date of a show your dog won embroidered on it.
  • You can watch a dog show on TV and know the names of the top professional handlers (and sometimes their dogs) before they’re announced.
  • You have no trouble distinguishing a dog from a bitch without looking “down there.”

If none of these sound out of the ordinary for you, then you must be a true dog person. If you are still a bit bewildered by this list, hang in there—you’ll understand eventually! And fortunately, unlike the fictional magical world, if you want to be part of the dog world, you don’t need an invitation, because everyone who loves dogs and wants to be a part of the dog show world can be. Just be warned—you might pick up some unusual traits.