Hair Of The Dog
By Christine Wilson, England
CAME TO YOUR National Specialty at Hudson, Ohio in 1990 and at 5 AM that
first morning (with my body clock still on U.K. time), I awoke, could
not get back to sleep so decided to go out for a walk. Everything
outside the hotel was dark and quiet, except for a tent in the tennis
court area. Being nosey, I peeped in.
there, pass me that spray bottle, could you, please?" greeted me.
Standing on the table was a Newf, patiently waiting. Scissors, combs,
brushes were nearby; obviously a grooming session was in progress. I
asked if I could stay and watch.
came the reply, "so long as you help if I need you; just hold his
head still while I trim his ears."
was my first meeting with Penny Shubert.
England, I would wash my Newfs about four times a year, brush them deep
down once a week, then the day before a Championship Show give them an
extra thorough brush, trimming ears and feet if they needed it. They had
won or been placed in most of their classes and were as clean and tidy
as most other Newfs in the ring-and a lot more than some (matts, fluffy
feet, mud, and yellow-tinted Landseers were not exactly rare). What I
watched in that tent was a whole new concept. Here every Newf in turn
was "perfected"-that was the only word I could think of to
describe the care and attention given to each dog's appearance. I was
still in that tent at 11 AM, having missed breakfast and most of the
Puppy Sweeps classes.
following morning brought Judy Oriani (a Newfie breeder) and myself to
that tent; helping with the work if asked. How Penny must have hated us
as she tried to work to her ultra tight schedule and explain the
how and why of every movement of her scissors. We watched, fascinated
and soaked up her words and techniques like a couple of sponges. We got
none of the "I can't tell you that, it's one of my little
secrets" attitude we would have encountered back home. By the end
of the week, we were determined that in the future our Newfs would look
much smarter in the show ring than they had in the past.
home the dryers were bought and then, having practiced on our older
non-show dogs, we set to work on our show "hopefuls." We were
very cautious at first, aware that new ideas are not always welcome,
especially with some of our more traditional breed specialists. Nothing
too drastic to start with, just a cleaner, more "groomed"
look. My puppies were always immaculate (in the show ring that is) and
they won again and again, often taking both Dog and Bitch Puppy classes.
In May, 1991, Penny and her husband Bob came to U.K. and kindly offered
to give us a grooming day. Friends came from many parts of England to
watch Penny groom their dogs; two of them for the Championship Show the
following day. Watching Penny's 10" blade scissors make contact
with the coat it has taken six plus months to grow, without the benefit
of having seen what a fantastic result she gives, must take courage. The
following day both dogs won their classes and the bitch took the
Challenge Certificate, despite having no undercoat at all!! People said
Penny had taken at least two years off her age and several thought that
Carol had brought out a new dog.
the standard of presentation over here is improving, but Judy and I
still suggested to Penny that she should come back this January and
groom our dogs for Crufts; the most famous dog show in the world.
Luckily she agreed and spent six busy days bathing, drying and trimming
the Newfs of those five people who decided to put their trust in her
ability. I had a panic moment when a fellow exhibitor told me in
mid-December that our judge for Crufts like a Newf "au naturelle"
with not even the hocks trimmed to shape. Dogs have to qualify for this
show by wins or placings in certain classes at Championship Shows. The
judge, Mrs. K. Gibson, is one of our long-established breed specialists.
Poor Nick Ford at his first Crufts was our guinea pig. We waited with
baited breath as he entered the ring with Louis, the first "penny
groomed" dog to be shown. Would she throw him out with the comment
"he was overtrimmed." We all breathed again as she awarded him
a second; well, he had looked very good! Penny groomed a total of eleven
Newfs there that day; they were awarded 1 x 5th, 1 x 4th, 1 x 3rd, 1 x
2nd, and 5 x 1sts, the Bitch Challenge Certificate winner (Ashness
Naomi) and the Reserve to her (Ch Stormsail Black Walnut). We were so
pleased for Penny and the bookings are already coming in for next year.
The judge then will be Judy Oriani and everyone knows that she will
expect well-groomed Newfoundlands under her hands. How glad I am that I
could not sleep that first day of your Specialty!
THANK YOU Penny for the changes you have brought to the Newfoundland show ring over here.