BIBLE HILL - Dawn Fougere opened herself up to a world of learning when she entered show dog competitions this year.
The Brookfield woman has been showing her purebred Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever, Celtie, in a number of shows and as many classes as she can.
"I wanted Celtie to have experience in a ring situation because I also do agility with her," said Fougere while waiting for the junior handler class to start at the weekend's Cobequid Dog Club show that was held at the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition grounds.
From the weekend, Celtie earned a reserve winner in conformation in breed, a pre-novice in obedience qualifying leg and first place in the rally novice B category. Celtie also worked with Elise Saint Pierre, 16, in the junior handler class.
"I love the dog shows because there are a lot of people and they are really nice. It's a good learning experience for Celtie and myself, and it's a social activity. I like seeing how Celtie compares to the breed standard," said Fougere.
While she enjoys many aspects about each class, Fougere said obedience and rally obedience are her favourites.
"It's more my thing. There's more direction to it. If I screw up, it's on me. If there's an error, it's more so the handler than the dog. It's more challenging."
Getting Celtie when she was between seven and eight weeks of age, Fougere has been spending a lot of time with her dog to prepare her for the classes.
"She's awesome to work with," said Fougere. "She's easy to train and she has so much energy. She loves everything. Celtie's a great little girl."
When it comes to getting ready for inside the ring, Fougere says it's just as much mental preparation as physical work with the dog.
"I have another dog in agility too, and it takes a lot of practice," said Fougere. "It's a lot of training and games so you make it fun for the dog. And I use all positive training, no negatives - no correction techniques."
In junior handling, it was Truro's 16-year-old Emily Bailey who took home the overall title with her four-year-old Italian Greyhound, Tina.
Bailey walked away with the title after defeating five other class winners, including Colton O'Shea, who won the provincial conformation title in March and has since gone on to become the top junior handler in Canada.