Thursday, October 30, 2008

Proud All Over Again

I've been sitting at home, feeling sorry for myself because everyone else is out at the BCCA National in California, drinking Sonoma County cabernet and having a grand old time -- while I'm freezing here in New England. It isn't the first, or fifth, or fifteenth, or fiftieth time I've wished that I'd had the available cash to take Dinah out there and show her to Wendy Hines. Bess and Travis will just have to uphold the family honor for us.

The one bright spot is if I hadn't been stuck home this week, I wouldn't have been here to pull the latest issue of the Bearded Colleague (the BCCC's quarterly magazine) out of the mailbox. This was the Specialty issue, so it brought back some nice memories of August in Gananoque all over again. I'd taken out a nice little black-and-white brag ad for Dinah's two Canadian wins this year, and Lois (the editor, who also owns Seamus's litter sister Kyla) did a fabulous job with it.

Dinah's BCCC win photo (photo by Kathleen Schaffer of Pup Art):

The part that I've been waiting for is the judge's commentary on her various placements. Here's what she had to say about Dinah:

Breaksea November Storm: 1st in Open Bitch. Quality bitch of the style I like, beautiful feminine head and expression, she is completely balanced combining strength with quality, shown in good coat and condition, her free flowing movement impressed me, I felt she was worthy of Winners Bitch.

Another sweet and completely unexpected surprise was the note of congratulations that Seamus's breeders added to his mom Maxine's ad in the Colleague. Not only did they congratulate Conor for his BOW/AOM at the Specialty, but they also congratulated Seamus for completing his APDT Rally Level 1 championship (RL1X) back in September. I have to admit to getting a little choked up. We expect Dinah Moe to get the glory when she does well, but it was genuinely touching for Seamus to get some too.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Up Close and Personal

Our show photos from the Harvest Cluster arrived in the mail today. The Lovely One has never looked lovelier. Ta- daaaaa!

Here's the photo from Saturday's show. Judge: Vincent Grosso. Photo by JC Photography.

And here's Sunday's appropriately seasonal photo with judge Larry Stein. Photo by Perry Phillips.

Monday, October 13, 2008

This Just In: Lightning Does Strike Twice

Palisades Kennel Club, 10/11/08
Winners Bitch, 3 points, First Major

Garden State Bearded Collie Clan/Ramapo Kennel Club, 10/12/08
Winners Bitch, 2 points

Kathy said it first, but I was thinking it. Neither of us could shake the feeling of deja vu, the sense that we'd been somewhere before.

When we went to Canada for the BCCC Specialty in August, I was convinced that Dinah wouldn't win the show for a second time. It wasn't due to any lack of confidence in The Lovely One or in Kathy's handling -- only that the odds of her winning twice at the same show seemed pretty remote -- and at a national specialty, even less likely. Was I surprised to be proven wrong!

Likewise, Dinah went WB at the Garden State Bearded Collie Clan's Regional Specialty last year. (Blog post is here.) It was a beautiful Indian Summer day, we had a great time, and I'd already found a soft spot in my hard little heart for that show. When the time came to enter for this year, I not only wanted to go right back to the GSBCC Regional, but I was psyched to enter on that Saturday and make a weekend of it this time.

Even though the GSBCC Regional didn't have enough bitch entries for a major, the Saturday Palisades show did. I tried not to care about that part too much. Majors have a way of breaking your heart if you let them, after all.

We had a good crew coming: Jake (as a special this year) and Diva, plus Kathy's Newfie Casey and client Newfie Clarence. Kathy recruited Joanne (one of the juniors who helped us out at that show last year) to come back and lend a hand. Sadly, Jake had forgotten to bring most of his coat, so Deb and Kathy agreed to pull him from the show and let him serve as a cheering section for the grrrls.

After our embarrassing loss at Westchester, I asked Val (who is an animal communicator) what Dinah was thinking. Dinah replied that she wanted to have fun at the shows, and that she didn't enjoy showing when everyone was too serious. With that in mind, we let Dinah goof around with her buddy Jake as much as she wanted to. She didn't care to pal around with the Newfies, though -- she only had eyes for the Beardie boys.

Saturday: Strike One

On Saturday, Diva was entered in Sweeps before the regular Beardie classes. While Kathy took Diva into the ring, Joanne and I readied Dinah for later on that morning. (Well, Joanne worked on Dinah. I just kept her standing up.) This means I didn't have a chance to watch Diva show, so forgive me if I get her placements wrong. I'll correct them once the results are posted.

Anyway, Kathy, Deb, and Diva returned with a third-place ribbon, a puppy toy, and a check for something like $5.27. Now Deb can answer "Yes" the next time that anyone asks her, "Have you ever won money at dog shows?" Diva can take that $5 and change and parlay that into a little shopping spree for puppy toys.

Thanks to Joanne's expert grooming, Dinah looked her loveliest for the regular classes that day. She was one of two Open Bitches, and took First... and then before I could draw breath again, she took... Winners Bitch!

I didn't even dare react. Everyone under the grooming tent was asking the same question: Did the major hold? In New Jersey, you need 7 bitches for a major.

When the ring steward (who was quite a character -- ask Kathy!) verified that yes indeed, the major had held, I was still too surprised to react. After all this time, expense, and heartache... could Dinah really have picked up her first major? Weren't majors something other people's dogs got and not ours? Surely there was some mistake. People must think I'm the coolest character at ringside, but I'm not. I'm just holding my breath the whole time, and for so long that I forget to let it out again.

Woohoo! It was indeed Dinah's first major. My friends under the tent congratulated me, including Karen Bowens, who has handled Dinah in the past and who had the other Open Bitch. I told her that I was sorry that Dinah didn't cooperate for her at Westchester, but it makes for a good war story. Dinah didn't get BOW, but we didn't care. We had our major anyway. We took our picture with the judge, and returned to our grooming area happy.

Dinah won some pretty decent swag, too: an engraved cast pewter medallion from the Palisades KC, plus a dog toy and a decoupaged treat jar from GSBCC.

It was a pretty good day in Newfie-land later on, too. Kathy's boy Casey, who has been waiting to grow up a bit, took BOW and the available 2 points. He really looked wonderful out there, and behaved nicely for Kathy.

Clarence acquitted himself nicely for Joanne, considering that it was his first show. Kathy and Joanne had raised blisters on their scissoring fingers trying to find a show dog under all that hair -- and they succeeded. Although Clarence was a tad dubious about this weird new sport, he behaved well enough to take his class and go Reserve to Casey.

Kathy, Deb, Joanne, and I held our post-show celebration at a Tuscan bistro not far from our hotel. If you're ever in or near Newton, NJ and are looking for some amazing Italian food, go to the Tuscan Bistro on Route 206. We raved about the place all during and after the meal. If we show there again next year, we are definitely going back there for an encore dinner!

Sunday Classes: Strike Two

Maybe it's because I've had a lot of practice at not getting my hopes up, but I had long been convinced that Dinah wouldn't be the judge's type. Larry is one of Traveler's breeders, and Trav is a very different type of Beardie from Dinah. (This is why Val didn't enter the shows. Both Bob, the sweeps judge, and Larry are two of Traveler's breeders.) Larry has never met Dinah or Kathy, even though his wife Angela has.

We've known since the entries closed that the show wouldn't have a major for bitches, but if Dinah went BOW, she could get the major from the boys' entry. The odds weren't really in our favor, but it made for a nice dream. Imagine finishing out there among friends, in the Indian Summer sunshine?!

Diva took Second in Sweeps, but was not happy with the golf carts trundling past the ring. Deb worked on desensitizing her to the ambient noise of dog shows by having her stay by the ring for a while, getting used to the various sights and sounds.

I barely remember the class judging, perhaps due to oxygen starvation brought on by forgetting to breathe again. Angela took photos at ringside. I had my camera, but forgot to use it.

Everything I'd assumed about Larry's likes and dislikes were wrong, wrong, wrong. He picked Dinah for WB! He also picked handsome Joel, a distant relative of Dinah's from the Breaksea/Balidorn side of the family, for WD. Karen handles Joel, and I've liked that dog from the minute I saw him. He's not a British import, but he's the son of two British imports -- both beautiful dogs.

Sunday BOB: Strike Three

When Best of Breed finally came around, I could barely stand the suspense. I could barely stand up! If Larry picked Dinah for BOW, lightning might as well strike me on the spot. Nothing more fantastic, or unlikely, would happen that weekend. He gave both dogs a look that seemed to last weeks, and for an infinite minute there I thought he'd pick her for BOW. He did end up picking Joel, but we were that close. People came by later to say "We were rooting for you" -- including Karen. She showed Joel well and he looked great. Except that I'm biased, I might have picked him too.

Joanne came by with the armload of trophy-type stuff that Dinah had won: a papier-mache box, a hand-painted Lenox plate that just happened to be Val's work, and the First and Winners rosettes. Kathy handed me Dinah's leash. "Here. Let's make her happy; you can take her back to the tent." Larry had a pile of breeds to judge before we could get a photo, so our objective was to keep Dinah happy, clean, and cool.

GSBCC throws a terrific catered luncheon feast for exhibitors at its regional specialty. Karen's sister Gail was this year's host/chair. I fully intend to steal this idea for BCCME's regional, if we ever get around to throwing one. Kathy and Joanne had to eat and run to get the Newfies ready for judging and Deb needed to tend to Jake and Diva, so I ended up alone at the table about midway through my sandwich. I migrated to Lucy's table and started chatting with Joanne Williamson about regionals, nationals, and other scary subjects appropriate for Hallowe'en. Joanne's gorgeous puppy-boy Jack not only took Best Puppy at the regional, but he also ended up taking a Puppy Group 1 later in the day. I don't know how he fared in Best Puppy in Show.

Later on in the afternoon, it was the Newfies' turn to shine at their supported entry. Clarence looked and behaved even better on Sunday than he had on Saturday. Casey took WD and his very first major! Both boys won pottery, dog toys, and heaps of other goodies along with their rosettes. The weekend turned out to be a pretty good one for Kathy, as far as majors are concerned -- and she even got to bring one of them home with her dog! Woohoo! If I'm not mistaken, this brings Casey up to 7 points with one major. Dinah now has 21 points and one major.

Eventually, we took our pictures, packed our equipment and our swag, and headed for home. Unlike last year's trip home, we didn't end up stuck on I-84 for hours behind a traffic accident that closed the road. I'd like to think that the rest of this year's shows, like our ride home, are nothing but smooth sailing ahead.

More Belated Shout-Outs

We haven't posted anything to this blog since Westchester, but Barb Rimoshytus sent me this photo of Rio's BOW win from last month. He now only needs one more major to finish, just like The Lovely One.

Barb also reported that her Golden, Tazzy, completed his RN at the Golden Retriever Club of America's national specialty in RI. I reported this along with Seamus's rally-roo news on my other blog, but Barb and our cheering section visit this one. Tazzy finished the title with a perfect score and a second-place finish out of 65-odd Goldens entered.

Congratulations to Barb and both boys!