This is a hobby with short-lived results to say the least. You can win big one day and lose the very next. When I say win big, I mean big in bragging rights, because that's about it. When Mark showed reining horses, he was stressed because he pretty much had to win to be able to afford to keep showing. He would work at our machine shop, then often catch a plane to meet up with his horse and trainer. He made a couple of runs, then would hop on the plane and beat it back here to get to work.
We never made big bucks, but often he would win a couple thousand or so (this was in the early '90s) so he could make entries, pay the trainer and support the horse. He also brought home lovely and valuable bronze or pewter trophies that he could keep! (In dogs we have had several that we had to pay to add our dog's name to by an engraver, then ship it back the next year to the club to be re-used.)
Well, us dog folks aren't under that stress because we know going into it we are gonna lose a pile of money, effort and time win or lose. There is no real prize money, though I've gotten a few bucks here and there, not even enough to pay for the entry. For what you say???
It's definitely an intangible "thrill" if you win, but a really tangible loss either way. For instance, I don't particularly like to drive hours and hours to go anywhere, much less a dirty old fairgrounds (or worse) for a couple days, then drive back. The winters are cold, summers sweltering and it rains here in Ohio pretty much whenever you don't want it to.
I rarely do outdoor shows because I don't have a motorhome to lounge in and keep the dogs (and me) cool. I am not thrilled about port-o-lets and restrooms without soap and often toilet paper. I usually have barfing dogs to clean up from car sickness and can never find power to use the hair dryer as folks hoard it. So if there is a wall hand dryer in the restroom, I stick my poor dog's face under it to dry.
You spend a fortune on gas, food, hotels, entries, parking, tolls, supplies and don't give a thought about all the other things you could do with that money. Specialty shows (for individual breeds) come with airfare, cabs, hotels, $50 dinners, donations, etc. But we go to meet up with folks we don't see very much and show off our newest dog. If you don't like to handle your dog in the ring, you can run up a heaping bill with a professional handler. I always worked for food, travel fare, diet Cokes, whatever. So, I've handled a variety of breeds for some wonderful folks. I've shown Chows, Flat-Coated Retrievers, Yorkies, Goldens, Pulik, Shih Tzu, Japanese Chins, Westies, Lhasa Apsos and others.
So, you go into the ring and your dog acts up and you are done for... or "viola" you win! You collect your ribbon costing well under a buck and thank the judge profusely! If you are really lucky, you may win a trinket or two, but mostly nothing or nothing you want. (Author's note: I got a comment from my friend Nanette reminding me also of how everyone is your friend when you lose, but folks can turn on you in an instant when you win...see comments.)
Then finally, you earn enough purple ribbons to call your dog a champion. It's an exciting time. But, since most of us breed to get the next new show dog, we don't use our males for outside stud services or sell show puppies. There is way too much bother in that to be worth it. Trust me.
So, why do I do it? Dunno. Will I keep on doing it? Yep, probably now and then the rest of my life. There is a thrill to see a lovely dog sweeping around the ring and watching the right one win. (That does happen sometimes.) If you love dogs and have never been to a show, look one up in your area. Try infodog.com and click on show schedules. You will see many beautiful dogs!