If you happen to be in Melbourne in September, saddle up because the Royal Melbourne Show is in town. For most, the show is about the attractions, regional food, entertainment and agriculture but for others, it’s a culmination of many years of training and hard work.
The Royal Melbourne Dog Show is the largest in the Southern Hemisphere with over 200 breeds and more than 4000 competitors. This year the chosen feature breed is the German Shepherd. Ian Wollard and Dawn Howard are members of The German Shepherd Dog Club of Victoria and long time participants in the Royal Melbourne Dog Show in a variety of events. Obedience, ability, training and responsible dog ownership are all part of a well-rounded entrant and here they share what is involved in the lead up and why they participate.
Ian Wollard and his German Shepherd Jake
What is involved in preparing Jake for an obedience show?
Jake’s training began at 10 weeks of age and continues today, he is now five years old. Training for us consists of exercise and play with brief formal and informal training sessions every day.
What will the judges be looking for in the winning entrant?
Judges look for team work between dog and handler; a good team will work harmoniously. Scoring is out of 200 points and every imperfection in the routine will receive deductions.
Is the world of dog shows a competitive one?
The Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC) title system allows a person to compete at obedience trials such as the Royal Melbourne Show where they are not only challenged to try to win their class but to also gain passes to progress to increasingly more difficult levels.
Some people are very competitive, however overall most people are happy when they feel their dogs have simply worked well and gained passing scores. The obedience community is generally very friendly, considerate and helpful to each other.
Have you always trained German Shepherd dogs?
Yes, and I have had four German Shepherd dogs, Jake is my second competitive obedience dog.
What is your greatest achievement in the shows?
I am very proud that my previous dog Kierah won best in trial at the Royal Melbourne Show in 2007 and 2009 and was Victoria’s first ‘Utility Dog Champion’.
Jake has moved through all the levels of obedience, gaining every possible ANKC obedience title. He is now one of only three dogs in Victoria to hold an ‘Obedience Grand Champion’ title, which he gained earlier this year.
Dawn Howard and her German Shepherd Rain
What are you looking forward to about this year’s show?
The Melbourne show is a highlight of our year and this year it is really special because the German Shepherd dogs have a judge brought out from Germany to judge the breed. It will be a very interesting spectacle for the public to see the German Shepherds showing how well they can perform in the gaiting around the ring at a fast pace.
Have you always been involved in the Royal Melbourne Show?
Our family has been part of the Royal for many years and it is a rare year that we have not had at least one dog entered in both the Conformation and the obedience rings. This year we have Baby Rain entered in the Conformation Show under the Specialist judge. She has one of her puppies entered as well.
Describe Rain’s history in competing at the show?
Baby Rain, as she is called at home, is a veteran of the Royal Melbourne Show and has already done extremely well in both the All Breeds and the Speciality rings. Rain has done well when she has been shown under the German system and has five excellent medallions. We will be hoping for her 6th excellent medallion at the show.
Rain is entered in the Open Obedience trial on the last weekend of the show. Hopefully she will do well there too.
For further information about German Shepherd dogs visit gsdcouncilaustralia.org
A world away from the show bags and jam sponges, the Royal Melbourne Dog Show showcases obedience, agility and responsible dog ownership.