Our dog show comeback with new PH Grand Champion Willie

After a five-year break, I returned to the show ring during the Philippine Circuit 2023, touted as Asia’s largest dog show, and I’m so glad I did. Our dog Willie (Thai Champion Plasma MS Whirlaway) emerged as a Philippine Grand Champion, taking Best of Breed six times and Best Opposite Sex three times. He even managed to bag two group wins in the fiercely competitive molossoid and schnauzer/pinscher group (better known as Group 2), holding his own against larger opponents such as the Doberman, Boxer, Rottweiler, Bull Mastiff, Bulldog, Giant Schnauzer, Standard Schnauzer, and Great Dane.

Honestly, I was stressed out in the days leading up to the circuit. We had expected Willie to arrive early in December, but due to logistical issues, he arrived the night before the dog show started. Imagine how tired and confused Willie probably was as he explored his new surroundings. I spent several minutes sitting on the floor of Novotel Hotel, where I got Willie from our Thai friends who brought him to the Philippines, cajoling him to come out of his crate. Who cares if we were in the middle of a crowded lobby?  When he finally did come out of the crate, my heart sank – he was scared and anxious. 

By then, I had resigned myself to a poor showing. How would he survive a 12-ring dog show, I asked myself. But trust a schnauzer to be a schnauzer. As I tried to comfort him, a pack of dogs came by and suddenly, he was girding  to run after them! With that, I kept my hopes alive, and we spent the evening at the sixth floor garden area of Novotel, getting acquainted with his personality and moves. Still, I was too worried  that I couldn’t even enjoy seeing dog show folks who I haven’t seen for a long time, and I kicked myself for even agreeing to return to the show ring.

Imagine my pride when the next day, Willie started his winning spree. Everyone was in high spirits as the show began, but I was feeling totally defeated as I watched from ringside. I had a glimmer of hope when he won the class. Then he went on and on. By the end of the day, we had ribbons and medals, a smile on my face, and the drive to carry on with the remaining shows.  I still thought Willie was tentative on the first few days, and I knew that he could be flashier, but hey, how can I complain with his medal haul and achievements? 

Willie at ringside with his medal haul

I have to admit that the feeling of victory never gets old, especially with tough competition, and I am happy to experience this high all over again. It’s hard to describe the feeling as one goes into the ring and watching the judging – the anticipation, the worry, then the joy or the frustration as the ribbons are handed out. As my friend Frederick Tan commented, “hindi ko kayang bilhin ang pakiramdam na ito” (“money cannot buy this feeling”).

I must of course thank my teammates who made Willie’s Philippine debut a big success. On top of the list would be our handler and trainer Eric Decano who got Willie through his adjustment phase and showed him beautifully. Breeder and co-owner Youngyut Amjaroen was there to guide us from Thailand, while co-owner Nick Montesines manned the ringside and looked after Willie. Nothing can take the place of a solid team.

I’m still not sure if I can make a full return to the show ring in 2023 given my time constraints, but I certainly look forward to more fun times ahead with Team Willie.

Team Willie
Judging of Group 2, the ultra tough molossoid/pinschers and schnauzers group. Photo shows the final cut of breed winners competing for Group placement.

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