Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A view from the steward's table

First, thank you for the tremendous, generous outpouring of condolences and happy memories so many of you have sent following Connor’s passing. The pain is still pretty raw and I cry for no apparent reason but today is a bit better and tomorrow will be better still. Thank you. Dog friends rock.

Now, for more fun stuff.

Last Friday, I spent the day stewarding at the Five Seasons cluster. There were four of us working the Open A/B ring and I was the only one with any extended obedience experience. We had a fun day and may have been the best darn ring stewards in the history of obedience.

Then I got out of bed the next morning and wondered why my legs felt like I’d been run over by a truck. Hmmm . . . maybe it had something to do with setting the broad jump 39 different times. I’m pretty sure the only ring job that’s worse is fluffing the chute at an agility trial. I got assigned to broad jump duty because everyone else figured I had all the obedience experience and wouldn’t screw it up. Wrong! For the last 10 years, all I’ve had to do is set the broad jump at 48 inches and forget it. Believe me, I found multiple ways to screw it up.

Here are a few stewarding observations I made along the line.

• If you entered two dogs in two levels of three venues that are being judged at opposite ends of the show grounds, don’t expect me to wave a magic wand and resolve all your conflicts.

• No, I don’t know if the judge is taking a lunch break. It’s 8:17 a.m.

• I have no idea what your dog’s jump heights are. YOU tell ME.

• As soon as the judge decides, I will mark the sits/downs groups on the check-in sheet. Asking me every two minutes will not make this happen any sooner.


• I can and will happily tell you the heeling pattern but for heaven’s sake, what have you been doing while the last 26 dogs were judged? (I can totally relate to this one as an exhibitor. Why is it so darn hard to watch the pattern!)

• Thank you for telling me you might have a conflict. I will note it accordingly. I do not need to know the intimate details of this conflict, especially if they involve any bodily functions relating to you, your spouse, child or dog.

• Yes, the class just started and that’s dog #528 in the ring. She’s going out of order. Relax. Breathe. Please do not pass out or we will have to call an ambulance and that’s really going to mess up the AKC’s “dogs judged per hour” recommendations.

• Racing up to the table and shouting “How many dogs before me?” does not endear you to ring stewards.

• There are 36 dogs in this class, 35 of whom want to move up, back and sideways. Please excuse me for not being able to personally tell you exactly what time you will enter the ring.

• Yes, “moved to end” written by a number does indeed, really and truly, mean that dog has moved to the end of the class. Not the front. Not the middle. The end. Honest. Would I lie to you?

• I am not personally responsible for the show committee’s choice of candy in the table bowls.

I really appreciate ring stewards and you should, too. Go hug a steward this weekend.


  1. Very funny and as an "experienced steward", I can relate to all of the above. I do like to steward for the most part but it's very hard to not talk to friends and dogs going into the ring. The hardest thing for me to remember is to take the treats out of my pocket! Or maybe I should leave them in and give you all something else to "train".

  2. Once I was the one and only rally steward at an outside show on a very windy day. This entailed making sure the next dog was ready at the ring gate, timing the run, running the leash to the other end of the ring, watching the honor dog and recording scores on the board and in the judge's book all at the same time. To top it off, the steward's table blew over once due to the wind and the signs were blowing all over the ring and the course had to be reset many times.

  3. Too true! We should give out your comments to all of our stewards at our April trial as a "source of strength" for everyone!