I’m a hoarder. I’ll admit it. But I don’t hoard everything. It’s ribbons. And rosettes! Whether its Fourth Place or Group One, I am thrilled to get it. And I keep it. I keep all of them!
With more than forty years of showing, I now have boxes and boxes of ribbons and rosettes. I have my first ribbon from 1978. My Cocker Spaniel was third out of three at the Montgomery Kennel Club dog show. The ribbon, along with the judging program and arm band, is in a scrapbook. I started with photo albums and scrapbooks to hold the ribbons, but then I won some rosettes and they didn’t fit neatly in scrapbooks. So, I got memory boxes.
Now some rosettes hang on my walls and on my wall unit in the living room. Some don’t have a clip in the back to hang them, so I have to find other ways to display them or they go in a box. I’ve been intending to get my Winners Bitch photo from the 1984 AKC Centennial Show, with my Vizsla “Lola” and judge Jane Forsyth, framed with the rosettes we won. Lola was my first AKC champion. The rosettes and win photo are still waiting in my wall unit where my hopes that someone would have them framed for Christmas never happened.
My Westminster BOB and BOS rosettes are there too, patiently waiting for me to frame them. My National Specialty BOB rosettes, thankfully, were already framed or they’d be hanging next to the BOS rosettes on the wall unit—not everyone’s idea of décor if you watch HGTV.
So, yes, in addition to being a ribbon and rosette hoarder, I’m a procrastinator. But I do love the ribbons and rosettes. Each one has a memory and an achievement associated with it. Some are special because we won them in different countries when we lived overseas. Many of those dogs are no longer with me.
I also added to my ribbon collection when my dad passed away. When he was young, he raised Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, primarily to hunt with. He did occasionally take them to the ring though, and after he was gone we found ribbons from the 1950s. He had carefully wrapped them in wax paper. I cherish them even though I’ll never know the dogs he took into the ring.
So, I was quite surprised at some shows this past year when I discovered that not everyone feels about ribbons the way I do. I am always happy to help folks who need someone to take a dog in the ring when they have scheduling conflicts, or a dog takes a class or goes Winners, and an exhibitor needs an extra set of hands to take it in. So, after helping a variety of people and then handing them the ribbon and being told they didn’t want it, I was a bit surprised; especially by the handlers as I had assumed they would provide them to the dogs’ owners.
Now, mind you, they weren’t refusing to take them or throwing them on the ground or in any way showing poor sportsmanship. Some ribbons that I tried to hand to them when I gave back their dog were for quite good placements. The handlers responded to me that they just don’t keep the ribbons anymore. Several shared with me that they don’t even keep the ribbons to give to the owners.
Years ago, when I was young and helped handlers, they stapled copies of the catalog pages and the ribbons to the invoice when they mailed them every month. Owners got every ribbon.
So, I’ve been asking around and it seems quite a few people don’t want to keep up with the ribbons they’ve won. I did some reviewing of contracts on various professional handlers’ websites and the majority state that the owners get all the ribbons and prizes. However, a few stated that if the owner wishes to have ribbons kept and given to them, they must inform handlers prior to the dog’s first show.
Then I asked on social media for exhibitors’ feelings about ribbons and rosettes. I am relieved to discover that I am not the only ribbon hoarder! Of the more than three hundred comments received, the majority stated that they keep them. Some stated they only keep the prestigious awards, and some, when ribbons won have become too many to keep, donate them to 4H and youth groups. My favorite was the donation to school librarians to give to children to use as bookmarks.
There were some people who shared photos of beautiful quilts and wreaths they had made to display their dogs’ wins. I haven’t the talent to do those. I’m not “crafty.” (I’m happy to sew a button and have it stay.) But seeing those photos gives me ideas. As I’m a procrastinator, however, the ribbons will probably stay in boxes for the foreseeable future.
But I do love ribbons and rosettes—the fancier the better. I dream of one of those really big Best in Show rosettes… If I ever am lucky enough to get one, it won’t go in a box!