I feel like things have come full circle now. I joined this forum before I picked up Cooper at 8 weeks and before I had a clue about showing, conformation, really how to evaluate a dog and whether they met the standard and how to stack. I asked a lot of newbie questions and got a lot of great advice from members here. Before my first show, I got even more great advice and then showed Cooper to his first blue ribbon with a class win at the specialty from 6-9. I was ecstatic---if you'd seen the smile on my face, you would have thought we'd just gotten a lot more than "just" a blue ribbon. I think there's a post from when I finally put Cooper's first point on him as well and I know I followed up when he became a champion. Cooper finished his championship over Memorial Day Weekend of 2018--honestly I was getting a bit frustrated by the time he finished and just wanted him finished. I was sitting in the pool, constantly checking my phone for the results when a handler tagged me on Facebook to say that my handler had won and Cooper was finished-and I actually burst in to tears of happiness. I wish I'd actually gone that weekend to see him finish but I kept feeling like I was jinxing it. Around October, I decided that I would like to see about getting his grand championship but only if I could do it completely owner handled. We started at that October show, in about 95 degree heat and went back to back Best of Breeds and and owner handled group 3 and 4. In December, we got pulled out at the specialty against David Harper and Clint Livingston and she really considered Cooper out of a lineup of who knows how many goldens with me on the other end of his lead...and even all these years in, I got nervous when I realized what was happening and who I was up against and didn't show him as well as I could/should have. We learned our lesson and went on to win multiple Best of Breeds, Best of Opposites and Selects and almost always a Best Owner Handler as well. I finally put my first major on him out of a beautiful lineup in March and we were almost always placing in the owner handled groups as well. Over Easter, Cooper won back to back majors and finished on Easter Sunday with a 5 point major over phenomenal competition--owner handled 100% of the way. What a fun ride this has been with now Grand Champion Cooper aka Grand Champion Apollo's Start Me Up! Pretty soon after that, his first litter was born and I've been giddily watching them all grow up. Such fun--and to everyone here that offered advice along the way, thank you! To anyone out there that's starting out, stick with it--it's fun and rewarding but you have to be patient and persistent because it's not always easy, but it is definitely worth it.
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