To Be a Show Mouse or Not to Be...

Julie Turnbaugh
From the March/April 1996 Rat & Mouse Gazette

Welcome to the wonderful world of showing mice! As a new "show" person, I am learning very quickly that what-how and why-fore's of showing my fuzzy little ones.

At last, the first mouse show that I will be able to show my pride and joy's at! After receiving the show flyer and working my way through the entry form, making certain I had my mice in the right color/coat classes, I sent in my entries and anxiously awaited show day. I was so excited about this show, especially since I had a bunch of mice entered in several different color classes. I had my Black Tan, who I thought was the best Black Tan in the world; my hairless; so tiny, but cute; my big Siamese and Blue-point Siamese; a Broken Longhaired, a pair of Broken Marked, and my unique Brindle pair. I had some really nice "show" animals, or at least I thought!

I awoke early on show day filled with excitement and anticipation. I was hoping for some really good competition during the day's events. I packed up everyone in the car and off we went.

We got to the show, checked in and waited for our classes. While waiting, I shared mouse stories with friends and looked at everyone else's mice. My friend, Bob, and I conferred on the colors of the other mice and planned future mouse purchases. Shows are a great place to socialize with those we don't see regularly and to meet new friends.

"Hey, they're calling one of my classes!" My sister had come with me, so she held down the fort while I rushed my mice up to the show area. Now I would really find out just what it takes to be a "show" mouse.

"Head-poor, tail-short, ears-poor (small), color-fair..." the judge remarked. Could this be true? Hey, those are my mice! "Body-fair..." I stepped a little closer to the table. Was I hearing this right? I thought these were good mice, and last but not least, the judge's last comment... "condition-good, temperament-good." Well, at least my mice had some redeeming values, but what happened? Why weren't my mice as good as I thought they were? Was this judge being unfair, or was I just not as informed as I thought?

After the awards were given out, I spent a few moments with the judge and got some real insight on what a "good" show mouse is. The judge was great! She not only tolerated my endless questions, which probably seemed silly to her, but she answered them all, even taking extra time to show me some really good mice. I was certainly learning a lot of valuable information on breeding and evaluating my own mice. My mice aren't "bad" mice, they just weren't "show" mice. They were pet mice, and I could use them to work up to some nice show mice. I learned that what I show in the future needs to be larger, with bigger ears, better color, and so on. All of these important features I had not been aware of, until now.

After the show was over, I called my friend, Allison, and told her that she needed to breed bigger mice, too. (She has mice from my earlier breedings.)

With one show under my belt and tons of information floating around in my head, I now have a better idea how to breed better mice. I also have a clearer idea of what to expect at future shows. To further my knowledge and learning (especially since my goal is to become a mouse judge), I'll be clerking some upcoming shows. There is always something new to learn and by sharing information with others, asking lots of questions, and paying close attention to the judge's comments (even for animals we didn't enter), we can learn and grow in our knowledge of showing and breeding "show quality" mice.

When at a show, make certain you follow these very important guidelines: You may stand close to the judging table, but it is very important to keep ALL comments, whether they are about your own animals, or others', to yourself. If you have any questions about the judge's comments, wait until the judge is finished and has placed the animals. Be polite to others who have animals on the table, and do not make comments or jokes about their animals. Keep in mind that, for some people, showing is a new learning experience, and last but not least, be proud of animals who win, even if they are not your own or of your breeding. The more good quality animals we have out there, the better the shows and the better the club!

Even though it turned out that my mice weren't as good as I had originally thought and I didn't win Best In Show, this was a day of learning I will not forget. I made some new friends, saw some "real" show mice, gleaned information from a very professional and respected judge, and even came home with some ribbons. It was a day well spent!