Sunday, June 17, 2007

Now We Are Nine

North Shore Kennel Club, 5/16/07: BOS, 2 points
Middlesex County Kennel Club, 5/17/07: BOS, 2 points

We are nine and we are proud! This weekend, The Lovely One has arguably shown the best she's ever shown. She looked beautiful, she behaved perfectly, and she moved nicely. She even smiled at Sunday's judge.

Kathy joked that maybe Dinah overheard us talking about giving her a little vacation from showing until she matured. I'm hoping that all the additional handling classes, plus a little help from Mother Nature and Father Time, might have helped make the difference as well. However it's happened, Dinah has started showing beautifully, and the judges no longer ignore her.

Our new ringside strategy has made a great difference, too. I no longer hide from her, but stand as close to the steward's table as I can without being in anyone's way. Now that Dinah can see me there, she no longer has to spend time looking around for me. She acts relaxed and happy in the ring.

She still has a "cotton head" and plenty of puppy fluff, but the adult coat along her back and sides is coming in nice and harsh and correct. She doesn't have more undercoat than she needs, either, which means that it requires less work and less stripping to show her gorgeous topline and correct length.

On Saturday, we had five bitches entered (one shy of the six we need for a major these days). Three of the bitches were in the Open class. Dinah behaved beautifully and was rock-solid out there, and the judge picked her. Two points! Even when we've taken Best of Breed, we've never managed to get more than one point at a given time. She gave Chaos the Reserve from the Bred-By class. Trav was the only male and the only special, and Dinah went Best Opposite to him. Brian, the wonderful junior handler who helps Kathy out occasionally, took Dinah in so Kathy could show Trav. The two of them enjoy flying around the ring together, and they looked great.

Most of the rest of the day passed by in a blur. I had a chance to wave at a bunch of people and talk to a few, but the early (8:30 AM) ring time, the lack of caffeine, and the sheer surprise and pleasure all shifted my perception of things into a slow-motion crowd scene. Dinah and I carpooled with Connie and Dory. We dropped them off at the Park 'n' Ride, came home, and napped.

Sunday's ring time was still early, but not the inhumane hour of Saturday's showing. Dinah and I arrived at the show to find Kathy, Val, and Pat deep in conversation. They were certain that the Sunday judge would pick Mia from the Open class because she's being shown by a high-powered handler.

There are judges who are love-'em-or-hate-'em types -- and probably every judge out there has fans and detractors. My Collie buddies just love this judge and were psyched to be showing under him. It all depends on one's experience, of course, and I had none.

This judge might not have been a big fan of Trav's, but he loved Dinah and little Moxie, and made a point of saying so. Dinah smiled at him in the ring. He picked her for Winners Bitch (one point) and gave Moxie the Reserve. The high-powered handler didn't seem too thrilled to be in the ring. He phoned in his gaiting patterns with Mia and disappeared... but not before looking Dinah over carefully. Kathy reported that he seemed impressed.

Since Kathy is specialing Trav, her friend Karen handled Dinah in BOB. For one long, long moment, everyone thought that he might pick Dinah for BOB over Trav... but he did put her up for BOS over the bitch special. Karen reported to Kathy that he said some very complimentary things about Dinah to her. No wonder Dinah smiled at him!

Anyway, it appears that we fall into this judge's love-'em camp. Since he's more or less local and shows in this region frequently, we should have the pleasure of showing under him again sometime. Of course, life hands you no guarantees, and the next day might not be Dinah's day... but then again, Dinah's growing up and getting the hang of this dog-show game. It's quite likely that more show days will be "her day" in the future. She has never shown as well as she has this weekend, and Kathy emailed me after returning home to have me kiss Dinah on the nose and to tell her how proud her Auntie Kathy was of her. I was proud to deliver.

For a dog to become an AKC champion, s/he needs to earn 15 points, including two majors (3-, 4-, or 5-pointers). Often, those majors are the hardest part of showing, especially in regions (such as ours) where it's difficult to assemble enough dogs or bitches to make a major. Now that Dinah has 9 points, she could finish with two 3-point majors, or two majors of any size. Since majors are so hard to come by that we're lucky to have three points' worth, it's likely that both of Dinah's majors will be three-pointers unless we win in another region with larger entries.

(After some of our performances this spring, I'm still amazed that I can be having conversations about finishing.)

I reported our point level to Dinah's breeder, who responded, "You're taking her to the National, right? You don't want to finish her too soon, because it's better for her to be a class dog at the National than in BOB." Since the likelihood of our getting Winners' Bitch at the National is minuscule (but certainly a lot more than zero), I replied that I'd be happy to have her finished anytime, since majors are so hard to come by. Imagine my sense of deja vu when Kathy said the same thing about the National this afternoon!

It would certainly make my life complete if Dinah were to finish her championship in a blaze of glory by taking a 5-point major at the National -- and certainly, it happens to one dog and one bitch every year -- but our chances are the same as those of all the other class bitches, and there are a lot of other class bitches. Still, what a fantasy...

Thursday, June 07, 2007

To See and to Be Seen

Ladies' Dog Club and Framingham District Kennel Club, 2nd in Open, Reserve Winners' Bitch both days

The Ladies' Dog Club has been a Boston tradition since the Victorian era. I've always had a major soft spot for their shows, ever since my very first Bearded Collie (Merlin) got his first ribbon at Ladies'. The Minuteman folks used to have a big Beardie get-together at that show, too.

The show has changed venues since those days. It (and the Framingham show) now take place at the Crackerbarrel Fairgrounds in Wrentham (which was the Wrentham State School back when I lived in town). Dinah and I were able to crash at my dad's house, visit with the family, see a friend of mine from high school, and still have a ten-minute commute to the show site. Sweeeeet.

Dinah made a very nice showing at Ladies', even though we came in second both days to our Beardie-friend Rosie. Rosie went BOS one day and BOB the other to finish her championship. Her owner was so happy she cried; it had been a long time coming. Dinah looked lovely and behaved nicely, even though Auntie Karen handled her one day and Uncle Brian did the other day -- and Kathy was occupied with handling Rosie. Now that Rosie's finished, Dinah moves up to the top of Kathy's handling food chain -- as far as class dogs are concerned. I'm sure there will be days when Dinah and Traveler get to face each other in BOB, but we'll work that scenario out when we come to it.

Dinah also earned her Canine Good Citizen title at the POC match this weekend, so she is now Breaksea November Storm, HIC, CGC.