Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Road to Hell is Paved with Broken Majors

Garden State Bearded Collie Clan Regional Specialty

Ramapo Kennel Club, 10/14/07: 1st, Winners Bitch, 2 points

Actually, things aren't as bad as the title makes them seem. I just liked the phrase.

Kathy's handling a Newfie bitch who doesn't care for indoor shows. Not that I blame her -- outdoor shows are always much more fun in good weather. The problem is, unless you're lucky enough to be showing in California, you're pretty much stuck spending some percentage of your show career at indoor shows every year. Here in New England, the outdoor-show season only runs from May to September, with very few shows at all between January and April. Gather ye rosettes while ye may. Ye only get 5 months of the year in which to do so outdoors.

Because Livvy doesn't like indoor shows, Kathy was trying to show her at as many outdoor shows as she could before the end of the season. She'd picked the mid-October shows at the Ramapo Kennel Club in New Jersey as Livvy's seasonal grand finale. In order to ease the financial burden on Livvy's owners and make better use of her time, Kathy asked her regular Beardie clients (Deb, who owns Jake, and me) if we wanted to show at Ramapo. The only hitch was that Kathy's van only holds two crates, and she was taking Livvy and Jake as "sleepover clients." Dinah never camps over with Kathy -- we always meet her at the shows -- so if I wanted Dinah to be in the show, I had to drive her down there.

I think I might have said no a couple of times, but I honestly don't remember. I was hosting a fun match at my house that weekend... I wanted a weekend off from showing, especially after that dismal Specialty... and so on. No matter what I said in protest, I did eventually enter Dinah in the show, found us a hotel room, and blew down there from the fun match at the earliest possible moment. The entire time I drove southward, I kept asking myself, "Why am I doing this?"

That question melted away when I reached the fairgrounds that next morning, though. The Essex County Fairgrounds are beautiful, and huge by East Coast standards. As a member of my local kennel club, I felt jealous looking at the beautiful site that Ramapo had available.

Even though the entry wasn't huge due to the show's date one week after the National, the folks who gathered there were fun, congenial, and happy to be showing in the sunshine. I saw old friends whom I'd seen every day of the previous week, and more whom I hadn't seen in ten years. The Garden State Bearded Collie Clan knows how to throw a party -- they had scads of wonderful trophies, a potluck lunch for all the exhibitors, and the most upbeat gang of folks to hang around with. I had completely forgotten to grumble.

Dinah showed for Kathy as well as she ever has in her little Bearded life. She gaited, she baited, and she behaved perfectly. The judge made it plain that he liked her, and gave her first in Open and Winners Bitch. She would have had her first major, too, if only one more bitch had shown up. She ended up not taking Best of Winners, but we know the lovely puppy boy who did get BOW. He did get a major that day, even before he beat Dinah.

What a showing it was! Karen Bowens, the wonderful handler who took Dinah into the ring at National Capital, ran up and gave me a huge hug. My friends pounded me on the back and jumped up and down. Even the big-time handlers and show folks whom I'd always been a little too shy to say much to came over and congratulated me. We ended up with some lovely swag, including a couple of big rosettes, a handmade jewelry box, and an engraved pewter plate.

Kathy had to show again shortly after the Beardies were done (I forget if she took Livvy or picked up a Borzoi to handle, or both), so we agreed to set up an appointment for a photo with our judge for later in the day, when he was done judging toy breeds and she was done with her other handling assignments.

I think we underestimated the number of Toys at that show, though. We waited at ringside while the judge went through billions of Papillons, gazillions of Pomeranians, kajillions of Chihuahuas of all coat lengths... and so on. Of course, every single one of the demanded a photo immediately afterward, too, so we couldn't get him to join us until after all of them were done.

Not that watching the goings-on wasn't fun. Kathy and I watched one Pomeranian handler who went into the ring without her armband, and who had to be chased down and properly outfitted by the ring steward. The judge patiently explained to the Pom's handler how to set the dog up, how to move... somehow, it looked familiar...

After a few minutes of this, Kathy turned to me and asked, "Could she be... a Dog Show Newbie?"

(Now that my official title belongs to someone else, what should I do about my blog? "Dog Show Old Crabby Jaded Grizzled Veteran" doesn't quite fit.)

Finally, after the gazillion kajillionth Toy had been properly photographed, we secured our judge. He seemed tired, but relieved to be guided out into the sunlight again. We took our photo -- one of the nicest ones we've taken -- and headed for home. I'm not entirely sure how we got there, but I think we floated.

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