This appeared in the December 2000  AKC Gazette Cardigan column

                                            Winter Resolutions

    Another year is soon upon us and many people take this time to reflect on their past years’ achievements.  Promises are made for the year to come and should include commitments you made to that short-legged companion, your Cardigan.

    If you made the choice of a show dog, it’s time to take stock there.  Has the little prospect done as well as expected?  Perhaps the time has come to be honest and to place him/her as a pet companion.  Make a commitment to the breed you love to improve the quality of Cardigans in the show ring.  It’s long been said that if you show a Cardigan long enough, it will finish a championship title, but do we have any value in a title achieved in this manner? 

    Many show prospects do not turn out.  By understanding the Standard and evaluating show stock honestly, we can improve the quality of our Cardigans in the show ring.  Have you spent time reading the Standard and Illustrated Standard?  Does your “prospect” come as close as possible to what is described?  Be honest and non-emotional.  Our breed includes many experience breeders, mentors and breeder/judges who are happy to go over the points of the Standard with you.

    If you own a companion Cardigan, have you given your time in creating that special bond?  Cardigans are truly companion animals, and they love to please.  Despite the frigid temperatures, or snow or ice on the ground for many, show or basic training should not be neglected until spring.

    If your are fortunate to have a young Cardigan who will be old enough for spring shows or for the National Specialty in Kentucky in June, you should get a start in the pup’s early training now.  There are lots of things you can work on indoors. 

    Winter is a perfect time to start table training.  Breeders with a young litter of puppies should familiarize them to table work whether or not the decision about show/pet quality has been made.  Learning to stand still on an exam table is good for all pups for vet exams and routine grooming.

    With short time increments each day, stand the pup on the table and extend the time within a few days.  Eventually, have someone go over the pup in an examination, just lightly at first.  Within no time at all, the pup’s stand will be perfect!

    Pups can learn to catch bait at an early age.  Put the youngster on a leash, and pop a treat toward his/her mouth. (For show, have the dog standing).  At first, the pup will miss, but don’t let him grab the treat off the floor.  That’s what the leash is for – snap him away from getting the treat.  He will learn that he only gets the treat by catching.  Don’t laugh too hard at him when the treat bounces off his nose!  This is groundwork for “free baiting” in the show ring, as well as getting more attention in obedience.  And it’s fun for them!

    For older Cardigans you can start basic obedience lessons; stand, sit, down and stay require very little room to teach.  During the course of a TV commercial, your companion will be on a “long-sit”.  More advance work would be to perfect your “straight-sits” by working quick pivots on leash.  Correct, Praise, and pivot.  This also teaches  “attention” and maintaining better eye contact with handler and dog.

    A new year is a new beginning.  Start it by bringing your relationship with your Cardigan and with this breed a step forward.

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