The first year of owning and showing an American bully is almost a blur. If your anything like myself, you would have consumed every piece of information out there on the subject. From best kibbles to feed, to exercise, to training. It wasn’t until recently you could find information about the history of the dog, blood lines, or how and why the dog was created. It also wasn’t until recently that the popularity for the American Bully exploded with the integration of social media into the dog world. All that aside, we are going to focus on your first year of owning our beloved breed of choice. From going to your first show, to learning your standards, to finally setting foot in the ring for the first time.
When I purchased my first American Bully which I named Bane, was the first time I had ever seen one of these dogs. He was 12 weeks old, chunky as hell and his head was a lot bigger than his body. As the breeder was signing the papers to give to me he mentioned “you can show him too.” I didn’t say anything but little did I know that those 4 words would throw me into a lifelong pursuit of perfection. Fast forward a couple of months and my wife (girl friend at the time) and I decided to go to a show to “just check it out.” When I got there, I had no idea what I was looking at. It was raining, the field was muddy and we didn’t have an umbrella. A kind soul reached out to us standing in the rain and invited us to sit with them in their booth. Luckily, he did because if I remember correctly we were just talking about leaving. As I sat there and watched intently at every gesture the judge was making while he was going over the dog. For the life of me I could not figure out why the hell he was grabbing the dog’s balls. It goes without saying I had never seen anything like this, I was hooked! My best advice I could give you all is ask questions and learn. I consider myself lucky because I was such a novice when I started I had no preconceived notions about what I was getting myself into. Looking back now, that was probably the best thing that could have happen to me because I learned. I figured out why someone would do this while another person would do that. I figured out what worked and what didn’t. The ground work I put in that first year has allowed me to consistently grow and in my own right be successful. You should do that same.
After going to a show and seeing what it was all about the standard is where you should advert your eyes to. Read them, and then read them again. If you want to be successful in the conformation show ring you must know them like the back of your hand. Everything that this dog should incorporate is written down like a road map and If your smart you’ll follow it. Will you understand what a stifle is? Hell no. You’ll need a good mentor to visually point out things like that to you. I was fortunate to be taken under the wing of long time American Bully dog men, even one of the original and I learned very quickly. Information back then just wasn’t at my fingertips like it is today so I hope you can use this to your advantage.
After attending 2 maybe 3 shows I mustered up enough courage to step foot in the ring. I believe I was sweating while I stood in the line up like I had just run a marathon. I wouldn’t even call what I did handling because when the judge asked me to do something like the down and back I had to ask him “what exactly that entailed?” lol I don’t suggest you do things the way I did it but if that’s how you learn by just diving straight in then be my guest. I didn’t win a ribbon in that first year of showing. Although it was slightly discouraging the exhilaration I felt when I was competing for a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd ribbon was simply nostalgic. Although the beginning was very tough I wouldn’t change it. My experiences are what have shaped and molded me into the type of person I am within the American bully community today.
All in all, guys your first year is going to be shit. Even when I run into a young man or woman in this game that are already winning with their dog they purchased 2 months before I say “you’re in a lot better position than I was when I started.” I truly mean that when I say it. If you’re not as fortunate as everyone else and you’re like me you’re going to have to grind, and wok for it. You’ll have to work longer, work smarter, and learn twice as fast or risk never achieving stardom. Even if you’re not like me and were fortunate to get that one dog from that litter that became something you’ll have to work just as hard to continue to grow and not flatline. There are going to be those of you who have friends and family in this. Those of you who have been around this for years before getting your own dog. These snippets of advice may not be as true for you as it was for me. The one thing that will be a constant for anyone within their first year is that you must work fucking hard to be successful. I guarantee that and this is all in just one year. Wait till you guys read about year two. To be continued……..