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Best in Show

A lot of time when I'm giving tours, people ask me how I deal with the stress of veterinary school. One of the most important things that I always tell people is to make sure to take time away from school to do things that make you happy! Everyone has their own hobbies, whether it be going to see movies, playing sports, or hanging out with friends. One of the things I do with my free time is a little unusual...I go to dog shows! My boyfriend and I have a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever named Finn who competes in dog shows and hunt tests. Eventually we would like to breed him, and so getting a show championship is necessary towards that goal. Now for those of you that have seen the movie Best In Show, we aren't anywhere near that crazy, but it is definitely a whole different world when you step into the show arena. Here's how it goes:

Preparing for a dog show takes a certain amount of planning ahead of time. Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers are pretty low maintenance as far as breeds are concerned, but we still have to wash and groom Finn the week before a show. He needs to have his nails trimmed and filed, his hair trimmed around his ears and feet, and then there's the grooming on the day of the show as well. We're lucky that Finn doesn't need much grooming, unlike some other breeds! At one of our last shows, we were grooming Finn next to a breeder with a lot of Giant Schnauzers, and for anyone who has ever owned a schnauzer, you know how much grooming is involved! The dogs each had their own professional groomer who started grooming early in the morning and often worked long into the day getting the dog in tip top shape.

After all the dogs are groomed, each breed has a different time that they are expected in the show ring. From there, each handler takes the dog in the ring, where the judge performs a shortened physical exam on the dog (checking to make sure the dog has proper conformation, size etc.) and watches the dog jog around the ring. Eventually, the judge awards the top dog in each breed the Best of Breed award, which is of course what everyone hopes to win! From there, each top representative from each breed can compete in the group awards (for example Finn's breed would be in the Sporting Group), and then those group winners compete for the top award, Best in Show!

When we first started learning about dog shows and going to them, I was so confused about the whole process. It can definitely be complicated, but the more I went to shows, talked to breeders, and saw all of the dogs competing, the more interesting I found them! Now, I look forward to each dog show we go to!

No matter what your passion or hobby may be, it's so important to continue doing what makes you happy while you're in vet school. Even though you do have to study a lot and school can be time consuming, I firmly believe that taking time for myself makes me a better student. So find what makes you happy and go after it!