Monday, June 23, 2008

Tempus Fudge-It

Last night I emailed back and forth with my friend Pat in Ohio. As with almost every conversation about show entries this year, ours turned to the fact that entry numbers are in the proverbial toilet. Pat's one of those real die-hards who is out there showing every single weekend, taking the old Monster Van as far as it needs to go -- even to the FCI World Show in Mexico last year. She bemoaned the fact that sometimes she'd drive hundreds of miles to find that no one else had shown up, or that judging programs would come back and the only entries would be her dogs. This in Ohio, convenient to just about every decent-sized show location between the two coasts, plus Canada!

Anyway, in talking to Pat it suddenly hit me that we haven't had a major in Beardies in the Northeast since last December's Boston shows. Small wonder the pickings seem so slim -- I'd say that going 6 months without a major would narrow down the field of possibility some.

Since my luck is my luck, of course there are majors for both dogs and bitches in Beardies over July 4th weekend, when I won't even be here. Apparently Linda was successful in recruiting a bunch of people to come to Springfield (ugh, Springfield) and show that weekend. But would they come to Maine to either of our supported entries? Nooooooo. So much for the "supported" part of "supported entry."

If You Can't Beat 'Em (Because There's No One to Beat), Steward For 'Em

BCCME's second supported entry of the year, at the Penobscot Valley KC shows, seemed like a sure thing to us. School would be out, it would be summer in Maine, the sun would shine, and the lobster would be plentiful (if not exactly cheap). We figured that the weather would be more predictable (by Maine standards, anyway) than it usually is in May. If enough people showed enthusiasm for that weekend, we might even expand to holding a regional specialty then in future years! We felt like real heroes for supporting our local kennel clubs.

In theory, it seemed like a nice idea. In practice, we ended up drawing only 4 class bitches, and Val and Pat and I were the only Mainiacs who showed up. I decided (yet again) to leave Dinah at home and go play ring steward for the weekend. At least Trav took BOB both days, which pleased Val and Pat.

After some initial confusion when the head steward assigned two stewards to the same ring, I managed to end up working a ring with Jean Fournier, who was charming, gracious to everyone, and a lot of fun to work with. After she found out that it was my second time running a ring solo, she continually encouraged me and gave me some tips to help speed things up and keep the ring running on time.

I had great fun working across the table from an experienced steward from the Vacationland club. As the day grew progressively hotter and more humid, we peeled off layers, fanned each other, and compared notes about freezing at Acton in May. We joked about the hot spaghetti, hot chowder, and hot coffee we had for lunch (but it was good, and free, and we enjoyed it thoroughly anyway). We fantasized about ice cream sundaes and trips to the beach. We hoarded hand wipes for our judges and shared the walkie-talkie. Other stewards dropped by to visit and to hand out numbers while we were busy directing ring traffic.

Ring stewards share a kind of camaraderie that's unique among groups of dog show attendees. Once you've been initiated into the club, you get to keep company with a friendly, funny gang of self-described masochists. The experienced stewards band together to help the fledglings, and come armed with a wealth of "war stories" and helpful hints. The venue may change, the hosting club may change, but the legion of stewards is always the same.

You can always spot a show that's chaired by a ring steward (Vacationland being a great example). The coolers under the ring tables are always stocked. Volunteers come by with hot and cold drinks, extra hand wipes, Band-Aids, and other necessities. Everything runs on time. If you're stewarding at such a show, it's easy to get spoiled by all the care and attention. This show wasn't such an example -- we were lucky to see a single hand wipe per judge by the time Sunday rolled around - but no matter. We survived, and Sunday's sandwiches were fantastic.

A Quick Shout-Out

Steph and Bowie of Run Bowie! fame were in my ring on Saturday at the Penobscot show! I'd been hoping to meet her for a while, and we finally ended up in the same place. The two of them worked together nicely in the ring from what I could see, and I hope they do very well at the shows this summer.

Road Trip Over Niagara Falls

This week, Dinah Moe and I get to drive out to Michigan for the Great Lakes Bearded Collie Club's regional specialty. My friend Maryann and I devised this plan last year after I set up her Web site. "Think about this, " she said. "Bring Dinah out here where we'll definitely have a major. I'll show her there, and then we can go show in Canada for the weekend."

It seems as though we've had this plan forever, but now it's actually time to make the journey. The car has been outfitted with new front brake pads (cha-ching!), and has just undergone its 150,000 mile checkup. The entries are in for the shows in both countries, and we're ready. We'll drive across New York, enter Canada right by Niagara Falls, and cross the bottom part of Ontario to reach the "thumb" of Michigan. All three shows are just a short commute from Maryann's house. Wish us luck out there!

Road Trip, Part Two - Already

Hard to believe, but we've also just started planning for the BCCC National Specialty in Gananoque in August. Kathy's coming up to show Dinah, Jake, and Diva, and we're already compiling our To-Do lists and our To-Pack lists. August seems like it's a long ways away, but July starts next week. What happened to the summer, and where was I when it started to whiz by?

Of course, I have fond memories of returning to the site of Dinah's first big win ever (Best Puppy in Show at a national specialty at her fourth show) -- but I'm also looking forward to seeing everyone again. It'll be even sweeter this time because I won't have anyone screaming at me. Seamus's breeder will be there with one of his sisters. Moxie's breeder always throws a margarita party in her hotel room, and maybe the lovely Miss Moxie herself will be there. Pat's coming up from Ohio with Merlin (her English import) and a couple of puppy entries. Val and Trav are coming along to split the expenses and share the fun, and we're hoping for a better journey than the one we took to National Capital. (I intend to rent a van from a more reliable rental company. Enterprise had its chance and failed miserably.) If we're very lucky, Dinah will step into the ring with a few Canadian points already to her credit. Trav will enter a show as a class dog for the first time since he finished.

Here's hoping we do well, eh?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

No Prizes for Beauty, But Pretty Durned Slick

My friend Ann, who has Brittanys (and a blog -- link to come later), sent me the link to today. Since I get my daily emails from Infodog, I wasn't sure I really needed another show information site... but I took a peek, just to satisfy my curiosity.

Holy Pup, what a great site! The design and user interface won't win any beauty prizes any time soon -- the looks are strictly Microsoft FrontPage circa 1996 -- but you can find, and sort, and save, and contribute to just about anything you could want. The list of Very Nifty Features is almost too long to mention, but I'll give it a try.

1. Everybody gets to play hurry-up-and-wait at one dog show or another. Just because your ring has a start time of 8:00 AM doesn't mean you do, especially if there are two breed entries of 25 dogs apiece before your breed comes before the judge. Showdays has a terrific feature that helps you calculate your actual start time, as opposed to your judging program's assigned start time.

2. Favorites, favorites everywhere! You can pick your favorite host clubs and sign up to get notifications when information on their shows is available -- and not just conformation and obedience, either. You can also pick rally, agility, herding, tracking, and other activities. ShowDays covers all of the show superintendents in all of the 50 states, so you can even put up all the specialties in your breed and get information.

3. Let's face it, there are only three types of dog show judges in the whole world:

  • a. Great judges. These are the ones who put your dog up.
  • b. Sucky judges. These are the ones who didn't put your dog up.
  • c. Judges you haven't shown to yet, but who will eventually end up as a. or b.

Showdays allows you to not only rate judges you've shown under and to see what other people thought (experts as well as regular exhibitors), but you can even pick your favorite judges and keep them on a short list so you can see where they'll be judging next.

4. Host clubs have lots of resources to promote their non-show events as well as their shows. There are forums, announcement boards, and even virtual "booths" where a club can promote matches, clinics, and so on. Our local kennel club's publicity chair is going to love that!

5. Entry Promises. They really should rename this Major Builder. Luckier people, who actually get majors in their breeds, can collaborate online with fellow exhibitors to try and build majors. Not that I mind asking around and then trying to guess who actually did (or didn't) follow through, but this feature could take a lot of anxiety and guesswork out of entries once enough people you know start using it for your breed.

I could go on and on and on, but just go have a look for yourself. The site supports itself by offering two levels of membership: Basic (free) and Advanced (paid). Really, how much fun can you have for $5 or less per month? That's still only two-thirds the price of Infodog, and you get to try out all the features for a month before you decide whether to commit.

Go on -- check out ShowDays. Tell the nice folks there that you heard about the site from Dog Show Newbie. I don't get any kickbacks for endorsing the site, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't accept any.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Public Service Announcements

The Lovely One Herself

Handling Class Update

Penny Cary is starting handling classes in Brunswick, ME at The Natural Pet on Pleasant Street. The next 6-week session starts on Tuesday, June 3 at 6:30 PM (no class July 1). Contact Penny at 282-7317 or at (new email address).

Sanctioned Breed/OB Match in Augusta July 19

The Central Maine Kennel Club is holding an AKC Sanctioned Breed/Obedience match on Saturday, July 19, at Union Park in Augusta, ME. The Mid-Coast Kennel Club will be at the match offering AKC Canine Good Citizen testing.

For more information, call Match Chair Jody Hansen at 622-9948 or email her at