Monday, May 05, 2008

So Close, and Yet So Far Underwater

Dinah's other Auntie Kathy and Dinah romping in the swamp at YCKC

York County Kennel Club of Maine, 5/3-4, 2008
1/WB/BOW/BOS both days, 2 points

This business of chasing majors is as much an exercise in humility as it is an exercise in futility. Just when you think everything's in place and things are going to work exactly as you thought they would, the universe always finds a way to intervene and teach you a little lesson about excessive attachment. If there is a God, He must be a Buddhist.

Our kennel club was sooooo prepared. We had everything set up/swept/cleaned, the fairground plumbing had been fixed, all of our trophies and supplies had been collected and placed in the correct locations, and all appeared to be well. Even the local weather report called for partly-cloudy weather with sun in the afternoons -- not too hot, not too cold.

Our local Beardie club was similarly ready to get out there and have a good time. Our grooming area was staked out and set up, the Beardie Parking signs mounted, and the food and drinks and silent auction items were all ready. The Weathervane was prepared for the post-show onslaught of hungry exhibitors seeking lobsters and beer. Val had outdone herself painting piles of gorgeous trophies for both days of showing. Everybody baked cookies. We were primed.

However, the Weather Chair for the event must have fallen down on the job. Although nothing can equal the sheer, abject, freakin' shin-deep sucking misery of the Great Deluge of 2005, the stuff that Mother Nature sent us made us seriously question the entire concept of outdoor shows in Maine before Memorial Day. If this doesn't make us move our show date to later in the year, nothing will.

Saturday was the better of the two days. It rained most of the time, with a few brief periods of letup that enabled us to show between the raindrops (mostly). However, the clammy temperatures managed to get to us all eventually. Everyone who could do so sported extra layers of clothing, including hats and gloves. The husband of one of our out-of-state exhibitors kept nudging his wife and saying, "So this is that beautiful Maine weather you were raving so much about."

Worse still, just when we thought we had everything set up for our major in bitches, one of our out-of-staters admitted sheepishly that she'd forgotten her class bitch at home and had brought along one of the dogs instead -- and she'd only realized her entry mistake when she arrived at the show. It was too late to call Barbara down in Massachusetts and advise her to turn back, and there was no answer at her house when I called to ask for her cell number. Barbara arrived at the show after beating feet for 100 miles to make it in time, and I had to break the news to her.

I'm afraid that my initial response, upon hearing this news, may not be published in a family blog. The exhibitor in question was so sorry that we really couldn't beat her too hard for slipping up. After all, her bitch missed out on a chance at a major, too. It would have been Dinah's first, but it proved to be an exercise in letting go instead.

Not that we let that get in the way of our having what fun we could in the midst of a freezing swamp. After all, we had coffee and home-baked cookies and all of us together. With enough EZ-Ups and the semi-shelter of the barns over our heads, we were about as well set up as anyone at the show (except for the toy breeds showing indoors).

My friend Kathy had offered to show Dinah for me, since she said that her bitch special really wasn't into showing and was happy to attend as a retiree. I might otherwise have passed on entering Dinah in this show, since I had so many hats to wear as YCKC trophy chair/show committee member/BCCME member/cook and bottle washer that I don't think I sat down for more than 10 minutes both days. At least I kept somewhat warm that way.

Dinah and Kathy made a great team. It must be because she was born during a howling rainstorm off the west coast of Wales, but Dinah has always enjoyed showing in bad weather. If she were a horse, they'd call her a "mudder." She looked lovely, behaved beautifully for Auntie Kathy, and took Best of Opposite both days to Lucy's magnificent Christopher. Chris went on to get group placements both days, and Lucy's daughter Anna got Best Junior in Show on Saturday. I felt terrible for Val and Pat, though -- Trav didn't get any love from the judges, and they went home wet and discouraged. (Rarely do Dinah and Trav do well at the same shows. The judges who like his type don't like hers, and the judges who like her type don't give him any joy.)

On Sunday, the skies just opened, and the day consisted of one long downpour punctuated by short bursts of light rain. Our ring had been moved indoors to one of the barns -- fortunately, within Beardie-lugging distance of our grooming area. Although the ring was so small that only the puppies had a chance to take more than two strides at a trot, at least we were out of the rain and the cold for a few minutes. (The EMTs kept good-naturedly inviting us down to hang out in the ambulance, where it was nice and warm.)

There will be pictures -- fortunately, those were taken semi-indoors as well, since the nice outdoor area that the photographers had picked ended up being unusable fairly early on in the show. Dinah was not happy about having to stand still and be brushed, but we're hoping they come out. Kathy and I kept doing a Chip-and-Dale routine of "you first -- no, you." Eventually we managed to get everyone into the picture who was supposed to be there -- including Dinah.

In spite of the stinkin' weather and the busted major, quite a lot went right with the show. Our caterer for the staff and the judges, bless her heart, served hot soup and hot entrees both days -- and there was always plenty of coffee. Everybody held it together, and the post-show dinner at The Weathervane was convivial -- and dry. The judges had such a good time at their dinner that (as I heard it) most of them just didn't want to leave. The one thing I know I got right was that the two Best Juniors were tickled to bits to have won grooming tackle boxes instead of more stuff they'd have to dust. Sometimes it pays to ask actual juniors what they want to win, and not just the girls.

I have yet to hear whether we made any money, or even broke even. The couple of vendors I talked to actually did an okay business on Saturday, but were eager to beat it out of there on Sunday. At least we can all brag about having survived another year.

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