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Living on Lounge Lizard Time

Several people and dogs in an arena with a judge.


Living on Lounge Lizard Time – Retired Show Dogs Enjoy Simply Being a Dog

Every show dog has its time in the spotlight. But eventually, regardless of the heights that a dog reaches, the decision must ultimately be made to retire them.

And that is different for every dog, handler, breeder, and owner.

retirement of show dogs

One of the most famous and accomplished Herding dogs in recent years to go into retirement is GCHP Gem-N-I River Of Urloved CGC, better known simply as “River.”

River, who is owned by Rick and Susan Waits, has won multiple Bests in Show and Bests in Specialty Show. As his owners describe it, they have been “living on River time” with their top-winning canine who ranked among the very best in the country when he was out showing.

For the Waits, River had already proven all he needed in the Conformation ring and it was time for other endeavors. River, who won the Herding Group at Westminster, has more than enough accomplishments under his belt, with that victory serving as the headliner.

Since retiring from conformation in 2023, River has earned Herding titles among others in non-Conformation work. To Rick and Susan, this is extremely important to what the essence of the breed truly is.

retirement of show dogs

“It is extremely important to us, as fanciers of and owners in the breed, to demonstrate the amazing versatility of the German Shepherd Dog,” they said. “This breed was created at the end of the 19th century to do working jobs. We want to show that the breed can—and still will—do it all. We are very proud of our once-in-a-lifetime River.”

When River is not busy showing off his talents and earning titles, he’s just like any other dog. “He loves being a family member, at home with us, going on daily walks, exercising with our other five dogs,” the Waits share. “He also adores going to our other place, where he can play in the pond and keep in shape doing roadwork with his golf cart. He also likes staring us down for cookies with those dark, soulful eyes.”

River has sired multiple champion progeny and is now “living on lounge lizard time” in retirement after a career full of accomplishments.

Breeder/owner/handler Cass Frank also dabbles in a Herding breed as a breeder of Cardigan Welsh Corgis. She has found plenty of success in the show ring with her dogs and has her own standards on when it is time to retire a dog (which is different for everyone).

“As a Breeder/Owner/Handler, I set my goals around what I can achieve with a specific dog, what we can do together,” Cass says. “If I accomplish what I set out to, then I’m happy to retire them from the show ring. With the bitches, I have my eye on breeding and improving my program, so this contributes to when I might retire them. Sometimes there is that one special dog that loves to show and the quality just shines through. That’s a dog that I may semi-retire and bring out for special shows or when they are a veteran.”

Just as the decision to retire a dog is different for each case, so too is what their life looks like after retirement.

“Much like finding the right home for a puppy, I only want the right situation for my retired dogs,” Cass says. “Currently, my two retired girls spend their days chasing the Aussie boys and monitoring the field for foxes, turkey, and deer.”

retirement of show dogs

Not all retired show dogs stay with their breeders, however, and it is common for some to be placed in forever homes following the end of their careers. It’s an idyllic lifestyle for a dog.

“One special girl is living her best life in Maine, with winters in Arizona,” Cass shares. “Her next-door neighbor is another retired show Cardigan and they meet up for regular walks and play at the park. It was incredibly difficult to let her go to a retirement home, but I knew she deserved one-on-one attention and had earned her couch time.”

Cass does not personally participate in non-Conformation sports, which is a personal decision some people make, as every dog person is unique unto themselves.

Raina Moss, who breeds Clumber Spaniels, has a similar view. “Typically, the decision is centered around a goal made for that dog, a goal achieved, and future goals for that dog to go on to achieve outside of the show ring,” Raina says. “The goals for every person and every dog can vary vastly. As a breeder, owner, and handler, I am limited in time, resources, and support to show my own dogs myself, which makes planning and goal planning critical.”

Raina has had some dogs that she retires and breeds, later bringing them out into a sort of “semi-retirement” in which they participate in a select few types of outside events.

“I have had one girl who quickly finished her AKC championship, which was my only Conformation ring goal for her, and then retired to the whelping box,” Raina offers. “She produced the next generation beautifully and then, at four years old, retired to one of her puppy owner’s homes to live the most spoiled life as their family companion, alongside her son, and do more AKC events like Fast CAT, Rally, and Nosework.”

One of Raina’s most special retired dogs is MBISS NBISS GCHS Rainsway&Cajun’s Reese’s Pieces CGC ATT CHIC, a sire of 10 AKC champions, better known simply as “Reeses.” He’s first and foremost a companion these days, but he also serves as a parent to all of the litters Raina breeds, including the one she has on the ground right now.

“Every litter that we have, he is right there helping to raise the next generations,” Raina notes. “He loves weekend getaways to our lake cabin to swim, running errands, especially stopping for pup cups from Starbucks, and he’s enjoying dabbling in Scent Work and Tracking.”

For those in the dog world, the decision to retire is always an important and well-thought-out one when making a decision on when it is time to completely pull a dog away from the show ring or to at least cut back significantly. Each dog’s retirement story is different in its own way, but there is one common thread at the end of any Conformation show career—each dog simply enjoys being a dog.

Or as River and Co. call it: “Living on lounge lizard time.”