Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Oh Canada! Part Trois

Sarnia Kennel Club, 7/5/08
BOW/BOS, 4 points

7/6/08, RWB

The Lovely One and I took our friend Maryann up on her offer of crash space and dog handling over the July 4 holiday. We planned to drive out there, go to the Great Lakes Bearded Collie Club's regional specialty on the 4th proper, and then head into Canada to show there over the weekend. After the Sunday show, Dinah and I would head back across southern Ontario for home.

The wait on the Bluewater Bridge into Michigan took quite a while, due to the fact that it was a holiday weekend and they'd blocked off the middle lanes from traffic. I'm just a tad afraid of heights, so sitting several hundred feet up at a standstill wasn't really my idea of a good time. I did get a chance to watch the boats and admire the blue water, though.

Of course, of all of the US Customs agents working on the US-Canadian border between Ontario and Michigan, I'd meet up with the one agent in the entire area who hailed from Portland, Maine. He noted my license plate and asked, "What paht o'Maine ya from, deah?" We exchanged my passport and several "Wicked Good"s, and he gave me directions to the nearest Dunkin' Donuts before sending me on my way. Ayuh!

Maybe it's because she's been traveling since she flew across the pond at age 10 weeks, but Dinah has always been a terrific road-trip companion. She enjoys sprawling on the bed with me at Red Roof Inns. Let the boys all sit at home and eat nasty microwaved spaghetti in front of the tube -- our road trips are girl time. I brush her, we walk, we share the bacon from my BLT, we hang out... all we really need to do is braid each other's hair and paint our nails. If the hotel has wireless broadband, then we're all set.

Sad to say, we weren't nearly as good guests at Maryann's house as we were at the Red Roof. I try to be as low-maintenance as possible, but I failed to give Dinah a copy of the memo. Much to my shock, she marked in the house -- always on the white carpets. She got along well with Maryann's Beardies, but developed a major crush on the young intact male, and wouldn't leave him alone. Poor Chase just wasn't used to that kind of attention; he just didn't know what to make of the little hussy. Although she'd already been mostly past her last season, she decided to start back up again just for his sake. I ended up having to keep Dinah on a Flexi, even in the house. I think we ran through the entire stock of Nature's Miracle in the house while we were there.

Thanks to Maryann and Jack and pups for their sainted patience with us! I honestly wish we'd been a little more low-impact than we turned out to be, but we had a terrific time. Someday, when I win the lottery or the escalating battle against clutter, I want to have the same doggie setup in my house that Maryann has in hers.

Why, Oh Why, Do We Do This, Again?

Stick around dog showing long enough, and you're bound to hear that question asked, in tones ranging from gently bemused to agonized wailing. I know I've sung several choruses of that particular song. Think of it as the Being and Nothingness of the dog show set.

The GLBCC Regional was one of those shows that inspired choruses of that same song from most of the attendees, even some of the winners. This has nothing to do with the host club, whose hospitality was matchless, and who put together a nicely run show. It was great to run into people whom I hadn't seen in years, and to put some names and email addresses together with some faces. I even won one of the raffle baskets.

Amy, the sweeps judge, is an old friend, and it was a pleasure to see her there. She will make a wonderful judge; she was gentle yet upbeat with everyone in her ring, and appeared to be having a terrific time. Jack showed Sparkle to her in Puppy 9-12 and received a 4th-place rosette. Maryann says that Sparkle will have a great time going toy shopping with the $9.10 cash prize.

One of the advantages of importing a judge from another country is exactly the same as one of the disadvantages: You probably won't know what that judge is going to do.

For people concerned about possible political choices and "face judging," importing a foreign judge provides a little hope that all exhibitors can start out with an equal amount of consideration. On the other hand, you also won't have any foreknowledge of what characteristics that judge favors, or his/her method of working, or anything that can help you calculate your dog's chance of success.

Some judges are "head judges." If your dog has a nice head, you probably want to show to that judge. Some favor type over movement, and some favor movement over type. You know your dog better than anyone else, so your best chance of success comes when you show to a judge who prefers the characteristics that match your dog's good points. Even if you're showing to a "face judge," your best chance lies with hiring one of those faces to show your dog.

Let's just say quickly that most of us probably won't be jetting off to New Zealand to show to this judge any time soon. This even goes for some of the winners. It wouldn't do to talk smack about her, much as I'd enjoy it. She's entitled to her choices; it's just that none of us could discern the pattern behind them.

Anyway, no majors for Dinah. Why, oh why, do we do this, again?

Good Day, Eh?

Although we knew there'd probably be majors at the Ann Arbor shows elsewhere in Michigan, the logistics of getting there from Maryann's house were just daunting -- plus the road there was heavily under construction. We decided to show closer to home by attending the shows in Sarnia, Ontario instead. Not only was Sarnia much closer by, but we could enjoy the trip, show at the more laid-back Canadian shows, and maybe forget about Friday.

Maryann, Jack, Chase, and Sparkle made the journey in the famous Doghair-mobile. Dinah and I followed in my little car. I put on my shades and listened to podcasts. Dinah napped in her crate. The trip over was absolutely delightful; we passed through gently-rolling, bright-green farm country, rode a six-car ferry across an aquamarine strait into Canada, and breathed in the sunshine. I contemplated the glacial color of that water and tried to imagine how I could possibly duplicate it in oil paint, or maybe gouache.

I even ran into the very same US Customs agent from Maine whom we'd met on the Bluewater Bridge. He caught sight of my car and called out, "Hey, what paht o'Maine ya from?" -- even though he already knew the answer. I guess you can get there from here! (Old Mainer joke. You had to be theyuh.)

You have to love CKC shows. They're just so laid-back, with the same simple running scheme as UKC shows. Everything just seems more informal and personal. I even got to meet Mark of COLMAR Show Services, whose emails I've been reading since Dinah and I first went to Gananoque in 2006. He even brought his two little puppers along to the show, and a dish of little Zukes treats that you could offer to them if you wanted to be their Best Friend Ever.

We parked our vehicles side by side under some large shade trees, set up the grooming tables and a couple of chairs, and just worked out of our cars. The weather was perfect. We chatted with friends. All was well.

Dinah ended up going BOW and BOS to the handsome, charming, and huggable Hart, earning her her first 4 Canadian points (and you only get 5 for going BIS!). Chase went WD for his final 2 Canadian points, so he's now a CKC/AKC/UKC champion. Dinah was only too happy to give him a congratulatory love-tap with her front paws. Our good day at Sarnia helped clear our collective mood after the existential confusion of the Friday show.

On Sunday, the 2 available points were hers to lose. She was a bit burnt out from showing and didn't care who knew it. The judge really wanted to give the points to puppy Hannah anyway, so everyone managed to go home happy.

That's the thing about dog showing. One day you're in the dumps and wondering why you bothered to get up that morning, and the next day you're on top of the proverbial world. Those top-of-the-world days are the real reason why we're willing to endure those other days.

Shout-Outs and Stuff

Thanks again to Maryann, Jack, Cowboy, Chase, Sunny, Checkers, and Sparkle-Pup for putting up with us. I had hoped we'd be lower-impact guests than we turned out to be, but we did have a good time. We hope you did, too.

Another shout-out to Ashley in New Brunswick, mom to Sadie and Chester (one of Trav's kids and a handsome little brownie). I had no idea you read this blog, but I'm tickled to bits!

Kathy reported that our buddy Jake took two of the majors in Springfield to finish his championship. Way to go, Jake! Congratulations to him, owner Deb, and Kathy for handling him! (Must feel nice to be finishing SOMEbody this year, eh?)

1 comment:

Curlious said...

I have to say your blog is quite entertaining! I stumbled upon it quite by accident, actually searching google for shade tarps for x-pens!

From the sounds of it, you are past the point of being a newbie! Keep up the good work, you'll find those majors eventually! And on the plus side, you've already earned your Canadian major (you need 1 win of 2pts or more, not as hard to get as in the US!)

I don't have a blog myself, but I do have a site if you'd like to check it out. www.curlious.ca