Sunday, May 20, 2007

Redemption in the Mud

Vacationland Dog Club shows, May 19 and 20
Best of Breed both days, 2 points

It takes a village to show a puppy. I've been lucky that my friends have been so patient and helpful as I stumble my way through the jungle of dog showing. We certainly couldn't have done so well this weekend if we hadn't had a lot of help.

Kathy and Dinah continue to work better together every time they're in the ring. I'm not entirely sure what the magic factor was this time, but with the combination of practice, patience, and Dinah's being able to see me at ringside, she behaved very nicely for Kathy and gaited as well in the mud as anyone could expect. Things can only get better from here.

Connie could easily have decided not to show Dory at all. Dory has more single points than she needs and only needs her majors to finish. A lot of people would have pulled their dogs if the entry was so small, but Connie was kind enough to stay. Dory needs the practice, since she's been away from showing for a few years -- and you could see that she was beginning to remember the drill. It seems a little cheesy to say "Thanks for bringing your dog so we could beat her," but if it weren't for people willing to do sportsmanlike things like this, then even more shows would go begging for entries.

Val did a magnificent job grooming both girls. Kathy got Dinah all pretty for the breed judging, and Val put on the finishing touches (including the waterless shampoo on muddy feet) before Dinah and Kathy went into the Group ring. Val said she was happy to have someone to groom because Trav wasn't entered. I'm glad we were able to help with that! Oh, and Val made the little pink tiara for The Princess.

Plus I can't forget Greg. The Man graciously consented to going for food, parking the car, schlepping equipment, schlepping the dog, taking photos... and all this just for a couple of hamburgers and a creme horn from the concession stands. Dog shows really aren't his thing, but he enjoys any change of scenery.

The Vacationland shows take place every year at a campground about half an hour's drive from here. The facilities really are nice and ideal for dog shows, but someone at the dog club really needs to get in touch with Mother Nature before next year's show. Seems that every year, there's either an active monsoon going on during the weekend, or one has just passed through, leaving the Okefenokee Swamp behind. It's the only show I ever attend where the grooming tent is considered "waterfront property."

To be fair, conditions really weren't as bad at the show as they were . I heard scattered reports of people falling and shoes sucked off their owners' feet, but last year was really worse in that department. This is one show where everybody shows in rubber boots and jeans, even the judges. You can bet I'm not planning to show up there again wearing pantyhose!

All the same, you saw more dogs being carried to the ring than heading there on their own four feet. The owner of the Borzoi Kathy was handling kept asking Kathy and me if we would carry her Borzoi to the ring. Surprisingly enough, there were no takers. Dinah put a dewclaw through one of her boots, so I had to lug her back and forth between the ring and her crate.

Anyway, Dinah behaved beautifully and showed as well as can be expected given the ground conditions. Nobody could do much gaiting, since most of the rings had puddles, muddy spots, and sawdust strewn in a vain attempt to soak up some of the moisture. (I almost would not have been surprised to have seen the Creature from the Black Lagoon emerging from one of those rings.) Greg and I stayed at ringside, and Dinah seemed happy enough to behave for Auntie Kathy once she was done locating us. She was such a good girl, and moved so well, that the judge picked her both days. Dory is beautiful, brown, and much more mature -- so winning wasn't exactly a slam-dunk.

Since this is the very first time Dinah has had back-to-back BOBs, of course I had to have pictures taken both days. Saturday's picture was taken in the ring after breed judging, and looks as though it will come out nicely. Dinah was still mostly clean at that point. Sunday's photo, while taken on the nice platform with all the flowers an such, still won't be able to disguise the fact that she (and Kathy, and the judge) all have desperately muddy feet. Maybe I'll have to Photoshop that one before posting it.

Most dog show people started out in horses. Sunday's judge complimented her on Dinah's movement in the ring. Kathy got a laugh when she replied, "Yes, she's a good mudder." It's true -- Dinah actually appeared to enjoy showing in the mud, even if it meant being carried from ring to crate and back.

Dinah is now officially 33% of the way toward her championship. The majors will be the hardest part, but every point is another step.

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