Saturday, September 12, 2009

Dispatches from the Confessional

Tuxedo Park Kennel Club, 9/4/09
Dinah: BOS
Badger: 1st in Open
Somerset Hills Kennel Club (Garden State Bearded Collie Clan Regional), 9/5/09
Badger: 2nd in Open

(Note to my Catholic readers: No offense intended, but sometimes you just have to riff on the accidentally funny when it presents itself.)

We always have good memories of the Garden State Regional. Dinah went WB there for the past two years, and this year was the first year she'd be back as a special. The Regional itself had been moved to a show on an earlier date for a couple of reasons: the biggest being that the Ramapo shows took place on the weekend immediately following the National, and people were too dragged out from the National to enter Garden State.

Thus it was with hope in our hearts that Kathy, her junior helper Joanne, Joanne's Portie Brita (World's Cutest Portie Ever), Dinah, Badger, and I converged on New Jersey. We were hoping that both Beardies would make a good showing, and we could keep up the tradition of winning at the Regional. Kathy was also showing Cali for our friend Lesley, and it would be nice to take home Winners Bitch three years in a row.

Our time in the hotel proved to be a special bonding experience for Dinah, the B-Man, Auntie Kathy, and me. Joanne mentioned that Brita usually didn't care for other dogs, but she appeared to really like the Beardies. Dinah was so happy to see Auntie Kathy that she danced and danced... she even danced on Auntie Kathy's head in the middle of the night. Badger stretched out diagonally across my bed, rolled over onto his back, and snored softly. I awoke a couple of times to find myself rolled into a little ball on the bed, with Badger expanding to fill the available space. Brita decided to join in the slumber party and helped Dinah take up all the remaining space on Kathy's bed.

When we reached the show site on Friday, we set up an "assembly line" for the Beardies. Badger went first, since he was the only boy in our little doggie group. I have no expectations for the B-Man; I'm not sure whether I should simply wait until his pigment comes back completely, or just go for it. After all, he is 7 years old already, and I am not going to struggle to finish him.

Much to my surprise, B-Man took first in his class, though the judge didn't give him Winners or Reserve. It did demonstrate to me that some judges would put up a handsome, great-moving dog with iffy pigmentation over a dog whose pigment might be better than his movement. It cheered me, even if he didn't get any points out of the deal.

Back on the grooming table, there was no rest to be had. Lesley got Cali all groomed for 12-18 Bitches, and Joanne prepped Dinah for Breed. It grew hotter and muggier the longer we stayed out there.

Cali ended up going Winners Bitch, and those last three points finished her Championship. It appeared to be a bittersweet experience for Lesley, who would have liked to have finished Cali at the Specialty -- but we take the opportunity to finish when we can.

Finally, Best of Breed came around. Joanne finished getting Dinah ready, and we performed a complicated dance: I held on to Badger, Kathy took Dinah in for Breed, and Cali went back in with Joanne. Dinah showed very nicely -- even in the heat -- and went Best Opposite. "He LOVED her!" Kathy exclaimed as she exited the ring.

Joanne had to stay late into the afternoon for Juniors, so I scooped up Dinah and Badger and decided to head back to the nice-air-conditioned hotel for a quick shower and a room-service lunch. It was just too hot to go anyplace where I'd have had to have left the dogs in the car -- so we returned to the hotel and hung out together. We had ourselves a nice, cool afternoon, shared my salad, and waited for Kathy, Joanne, and Brita to return.

Joanne reported that she had won her class in Juniors, but didn't get Best Junior. Brita strutted around with her pink squeaky toy and didn't seem to care. We all slept more soundly the second night, and Dinah kept her head-dancing to a minimum.

Saturday dawned frickin' hot and sticky and grew even hotter and stickier. Kathy had been running around in Friday's heat and bore up well, but Saturday's temperatures threatened to do her in. (She, like Dinah, is not a fan of the hot weather.) All of us had forgotten to pack the Gatorade, so I made some supply runs to the booth selling vitamin water with electrolytes, and threw in some salty potato chips for fun. We didn't even start showing until late in the afternoon. Joanne and Brit won their Juniors class and came back to wait with us.

Of course, when you're drinking considerable quantities of liquids, sooner or later, you'll have to "pay the rent" on those same liquids. Kathy departed, then returned and told me with a chuckle that someone had taped a sign over the porta-potty door reading "CONFESSIONAL." Thus, every time one of us needed a biology break, we'd depart with the announcement, "I have to go to confession now." "Again? You must have been very bad."

We kept ourselves amused until it FINALLY came time to show. Brenda Wantland appeared to have a very good time judging Sweeps, and we all enjoyed watching Sandy and Casey out there with the veterans. Kathy handled Cali in 12-16 sweeps (she hadn't been moved up after finishing the day before), and Sue handled Jezebel. They placed first and second in their class.

In the regular classes, B-Man took second in his class, but not Reserve. It was a bummer that he didn't do better on Specialty Day, but the handsome brownie that Karen Bowens showed definitely had the better day.

Cali took first and Reserve in the regular classes, and Jezebel took third. They held up well, for having to go run around twice in the heat.

While in the ring, one of the other handlers murmured to Kathy, "If he makes us run around one more time, I'm leaving the ring." Kathy replied, "If he makes us run around the ring one more time, I'll be leaving the ring in an ambulance!"

After more sweat and more confessions, the time finally came for Best of Breed judging. Dinah would have none of it. She wiggled. She sniffed. She looked everywhere but straight ahead. Kathy reported that she looked as though she needed to confess something, but she'd just gone to confession shortly before going into the ring. Apparently she hadn't felt completely absolved of her sins.

It was disappointing that Dinah hadn't felt like showing. Garden State is usually a great show for her, and she did very well there two years in a row. She must have put all of her energy behind the Friday show. She didn't do anything on Saturday, not unexpectedly -- but such a shame. When the Princess doesn't feel like showing, you can't get her to show with bait, bribes, steaks, cold hard cash, a bulldozer, or the entire first violin section of the Boston Symphony. She waited; she made her mind up; she was done. There's nothing else one can do about that.

We're Red Sox fans. Time to raise the battle cry: "Wait 'til next year!"

Another reason why our ring time was such a shame is that it grew too late to enjoy the wonderful buffet lunch that the Garden State club always prepares for members, exhibitors, and friends. By the time our part of the show was over, people were dismantling their setups and packing instead of hanging around and socializing. GSBCC is one of my favorite shows. I hope that next year, the Powers That Be will put us back in the morning so we can enjoy ourselves and enjoy everyone's company more.

A few people were interested in meeting and going over the B-Man, which was nice for both of us. They told me that they felt it was worth trying to finish him, and hoped his pigment came back soon to make that part easier. Some felt that his pink lips wouldn't deter an all-breed judge from giving him some respect, but until the blue fills back in around his eyes, he's going to scare them off. At least I had some reassurance that the effort wouldn't be entirely futile.

I can't believe how quickly this year is going by! In a couple of weeks, we'll be making the Long Trek to Minnesota for the National. Think good thoughts for us.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Long-Lost Doggerel Found!

I've been looking all over for this poem. Someone posted it to the Beardie List eons ago, and I haven't seen it since. Thanks to the magic of Google, it's been found. No one seems to know who the author is, but whomever you are... Thank you!

Lament of a Stud

My job is making puppies
And I get two tries at that
They pat me on the head and say "Good Boy",
and that is that.

It's half my job to give 'em
teeth and toplines, fronts and other,
Remember, it's only Half my job...,
they also have a mother.

It's not my job to carry pups
And make 'em grow and nurse 'em
And feed and clean and make 'em strong
That's for "mother" and a person.

It's not my job to wean
And feed the calcium and food
And stack and gait and housebreak,
And make 'em a "showing" brood.

It's not my job to plan the breeding,
And learn what produces well,
To study pedigrees, learn what's there,
And pick out those to sell.

It's not my job to guarantee champs,
The breeder picks the pair,
To mate and whelp and feed and show,
and HOPE that the champ is there.

It's not my job to be on hand
when points are given out.
The breeder, owner, dam and friends
Take credit with a shout.

It's not my job to deliver a winner.
It's only genes I sell.
But let the puppies turn out bad,
And guess who catches HELL.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

New AKC Grand Champion Title Proposed

This has been making the rounds of the email lists. Someone took a lot of trouble to type it in, possibly from the AKC Gazette. Thanks to whomever took the trouble.

Sure, we know that it's another way to increase AKC's bottom line by encouraging people with finished champions to get back in there and try for the next title -- but at least this decision gives you something for your money. As for us, it was freakin' hard enough to get two majors the first time around.

From the August AKC Board minutes:

Grand Championship Proposal

There was a motion by Mr. Arnold, seconded by Dr. Davies, and it was VOTED (unanimously) to approve a new advanced conformation title to be called Grand Championship. The specifics of the Grand Championship, which is intended to provide additional venues for exhibitors and to encourage entries, are:

All Champions of record that are eligible to be entered in Best of Breed competition, are automatically entered in competition for points toward the "Grand Champion" title when they are entered in the Best of Breed class at a dog show. There are no additional entry fees or cost to exhibitors for participation in this competition at AKC events.

Dogs and bitches that have earned their Championship and are moved up to Best of Breed class would be eligible to compete on the day.

Any exhibits found to be ineligible for "Grand Champion" points would have those points disallowed administratively by the AKC. If Best of Breed is found to be ineligible, all Grand Champion points awarded will be administratively disallowed for Best of Opposite Sex, Select Dog and Select Bitch.

Winners Dog, Winners Bitch, Best of Winners, or non-regular class winners, are not eligible to compete for "Grand Champion" points.

All eligible exhibits entered in the Best of Breed class will compete and judging will be concurrent with traditional Best of Breed judging.

The judge will award Best of Breed, Best of Winners, Best of Opposite Sex, Select Dog and Select Bitch. Judges may withhold any awards at their discretion.

For eligible Champions, the Best of Breed (BOB), Best of Opposite Sex (BOS), Select Dog (SD) and Select Bitch (SB) winners can acquire points toward the "Grand Champion" title. A maximum of four dogs may be awarded "Grand Championship" points.

The existing schedule of points and divisions will be used to calculate "Grand Champion" points. "Grand Championship" points will be awarded based on the number of eligible entries exhibited. All class exhibits and champions in breed or variety competition present will be counted to compute "Grand Champion" points.

"Grand Championship" entries will not affect the annual computation schedule of points assigned to each Points Division.

Best of Breed, Best of Opposite Sex, Select Dog and Select Bitch can earn "Grand Champion" points at AKC All Breed, Limited Breed, or Specialty events.

There will be no "Grand Champion" points awarded when all competing Champions of Record or move-up dogs are defeated by a class dog or bitch receiving the Best of Breed award.

If the Best of Opposite Sex winner is the Winners Dog or The Winners Bitch, neither the Best of Opposite Sex nor the Select award for that sex will be eligible for "Grand Champion" awards.

Best of Breed winner will receive the highest number of "Grand Champion" points available regardless of sex. Best of Breed "Grand Champion" points are based on the total number of dogs and bitches competing in the breed or variety using the point schedule for the individual dog's sex.

Best of Opposite Sex winner will receive Grand Championship points based on the total number of dogs defeated of the same sex. The Select Dog and Select Bitch will receive points based on the total numbers of dogs defeated of the same sex. Best of Breed or the Best of Opposite Sex will not be included in this computation.

Best of Opposite Sex point computations may be equal to the Best of Breed winner but in no case will they exceed "Grand Championship" points awarded to Best of Breed.

"Grand Champion" ribbons will be provided to all eligible Best of Breed, Best of Opposite Sex, Select Dog, Select Bitch winners.

Once an eligible dog or bitch has accumulated 25 "Grand Champion" points with three majors under three different judges and at least one point under a fourth judge, it may be designated "Grand Champion" and receive an AKC enhanced certificate indicating they have completed the necessary requirements for the title.

"Grand Champion" title holders will continue to accumulate points towards the "Grand Champion Ranking System" after completion of title (Top 25, 50 or 100 by Breed, and Group).

Any dog who completes its Grand Champion title will receive an invitation to the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Nothin' Shakin' on Shakedown Cruise

Newtown and Great Barrington KC Shows
Springfield, MA
8/22 and 8/23/09
RWD (both days)

After the exercise in remedial humility that was our last trip to Canada, I drove home, swapped dogs, and headed out to Springfield for more. Sounds masochistic, doesn't it? It wasn't intended to be, but it makes one wonder sometimes.

This last pair of shows was intended as a get-acquainted trip for Badger. The B-Man hasn't seen the inside of a show ring since he left the Old Country, and he's never been subjected to the bedlam that is an AKC dog show at the Big E. To me, it was more important that he get to meet Auntie Kathy and get back into the rhythm of things before we start to expect great things from him. I also valued the bonding time we'd get to have together without interference from other dogs or humans. We hadn't spent much "alone time" together at all since we took the long drive home from Richmond.

(The B-man is Greg's favorite dog, and I practically had to pry Badge away from him to get him into the show ring in the first place. Those two get plenty of "alone time" together, mostly on top of Mt. Ossipee.)

The drive west was a bit challenging. The remnants of the hurricane that we'd heard about while I was up in the Maritimes had decided to pass through western Massachusetts at the same time I did. There were times along the Mass Pike where traffic slowed to 20 mph with a long line of hazard lights blinking. The rain just pounded down and made it nearly impossible to see, but there wasn't enough room for everyone to pull over... so we crawled instead.

Once we made it to the hotel, I took Badge to the Petco in the strip mall next door for a sterilized bone. (I usually prefer to give him raw bones, but I wasn't going to be cleaning carnage out of his beard the night before a show, thankyouverymuch.) He attracted every toddler in the place, who absolutely had to come and pet the nice doggie. I resisted the urge to check their hands for grape jelly before they petted him.

Note to all fans of the movie "Best in Show": Petco has Busy Bees in their clearance bins! If you, or anyone you know, needs a Busy Bee, they're on sale at Petco now for only a couple of bucks! Don't settle for a crummy bear in a bee costume...! Don't let your dog FREAK OUT!!

We had a good time at the show. Badge was very rusty at the whole process and didn't pay much attention in the ring. It's hard to tell anything when there are only two dogs entered, but Badge was still getting used to everything and really didn't have a chance to shine. The Dog Who Eats Everything wouldn't even sniff the bait in the ring, though he practically swallowed my hand afterward. The other dog was there and paying attention, so he took the one available point each day. Good on him -- he worked for them. Badge's Sunday performance was better, but still not great. He'll improve with practice.

The exercise was worthwhile, and we actually had quite the enjoyable time. We set up with our friends Lesley and Sue, who had Fanny and Cali along. (Roy was there too, but he was sequestered with his handler.) Fanny ended up going BOS to Roy, and Cali went BOW -- she only needs three points to finish (I think). My favorite part of the weekend was the bull session at the Red Robin after the show -- we definitely should do that more often!

Badge got to meet Auntie Kathy, and get used to the show routine all over again. Springfield probably wasn't the best place for his initiation, but you go where the shows are. The guy is a trouper -- after a while, he was jumping up onto the grooming table as he used to do back in Wales. Before we know it, he'll be the B-Man I remember showing back in the UK -- floating above the ground, looking alert and powerful. He took at least one Best in Show over there under a Beardie breeder-judge, and maybe he can do it again. Kathy said she really liked him and thought he should do well. We shall see.

Badge is a terrific traveler, just as his niece Dinah is. He is possessed of the same unflappable Breaksea temperament, and he sleeps on the hotel room floor just as he does at home: on his back with his feet in the air and a smile on his face. I never see him on the drive; he just conks out in the crate. (Dinah sleeps on her back in the car, too. Occasionally I'll hear a thump as she turns over.)

The B-Man's show journey will be quite a bit different from Dinah's. With Dinah, she and and I started the trip with a six-month-old puppy who was a terrific show prospect, handicapped only by a complete stumblebum on the other end of the lead (me). Kathy brought out that potential in a way that I never could have. In spite of all of the broken majors and crappy luck, she finished her AKC CH just after her third birthday.

With the B-Man, we're starting from the beginning with an adult dog (whom we hope will get his love of showing back soon). That's a good news-bad news proposition. He won't be going through an adolescent gangly stage, and he's already in coat. You need far fewer dogs to make up a major than you do bitches, so he just might have an advantage there. The bad news is that class dogs his age are practically nonexistent. In spite of the fact that he spent his formative years in another country, people who don't know his story might wonder what could be wrong with a six-year-old dog who hasn't finished yet. Hey, we'll see how far we can get before he qualifies for Veterans.

Our next show will be a different kind of "shakedown cruise." Dinah and Badge are both entered in the Garden State Bearded Collie Clan's Regional Specialty (one of my favorites). I've never had to juggle two dogs at a show before, so this should be an experience. At the very least, it should make for entertaining Dog Show Newbie fodder.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

O Canada! O Hubris!

New Brunswick Kennel Club
New Brunswick, Canada
Reserve Winners Bitch

The next time someone tells you that something is "as easy as shooting fish in a barrel," remember that sharks are fish, and that rubber bands don't really do a heck of a lot of damage.

It's my fault, really. Remember that tired-but-still-true saying about "Never assume...?" Well, I assumed. You can guess the rest.

We waltzed into a lovely local dog show in New Brunswick, Canada, and I simply assumed that we'd slay the available competition, pick up her very last CKC point, and waltz all the way home. It sounded so good in theory: we had two AKC champions (Trav and Dinah) and two 12-18 puppies (Chester and Fiona). The two adult dogs would simply beat the two kids in the ring and go home Am/Can Champions. Sounds good to you too?

Ah, we had it all planned. We'd take photos together, assemble a huge and fabulous ad for the Beardie Club brag rag, and have stories we could tell around campfires for years to come. We could even finish the two of them on the very same day! There was a liquor store just down the street. I could quickly nip out for a little champagne. Wouldn't it be loverly?

Then... reality decided to take things in another direction. Who invited reality to the party, anyway?

Val, Trav, and Fiona had gone to the shows three days ahead of us. Their plan was to show all six days of shows, finish Trav, and get some group placements. Dare we dream of Best in Show?

My plan was to bring Dinah three days later, pick up her last point on the first day, and see whether I couldn't leave her in the classes so Fiona could bring home a couple of points as well. How very gracious, n'est-ce pas?

Our kind and gracious hosts were Ann, Bob, and Ashley (Chester and Fiona's breeders). They did all the heavy lifting for us: they towed and drove the RV and camper to the site, set up the X-pens, brewed the morning coffee, and make what plans needed to be made. Ashley even arranged for a local junior handler to take Dinah in for me, and to bask in the glory of finishing a new Am/Can CH.

That, at least, was the plan, but plans do have a way of deviating from reality. I had forgotten to take into account some additional ass-umptions:

  1. Dinah and Trav are very different in type. Judges who like Dinah's type tend to ignore Trav... and the reverse is also true. The other two dogs, being Trav's kids, were also of his type.

  2. One of the judges had previously dumped Dinah for a puppy at one show last year, even before Dinah set paw in the ring. It's safe to say she's not a fan.

  3. When Dinah doesn't feel like showing, no one and nothing can change her little Bearded mind. When condition are (to her) exactly right, she's unbeatable. When things in Dinah-land are not to her liking, you can't get her to show with liver, toys, or a bulldozer.

  4. I may have been keeping this blog for a few years now, but in the ring, I'm still a Dog Show Newbie.

Trav acquitted himself very well in the ring, going Best of Breed all six days and picking up three Group 4s and a Group 3. He finished his Can. CH on the fourth day.

Things weren't as easy for Dinah, unfortunately. (They never are.) She didn't like the junior handler showing up 10 seconds before we were to step into the ring. She didn't like my grooming or my handling. She didn't like the bait. She didn't like the heat, or the slippery floor surface where the mats didn't cover it. In short, she didn't like anything about that week, and she was prepared to display that dislike in the show ring.

Remember the "fish in a barrel" part? We had figured that since Fiona plodded around the ring, head down, that all Dinah needed to do to beat her was to show up. Little did we figure that Fee would pick that week to decide that not only did she love showing, but that she couldn't wait to get into the ring! This was wonderful news -- but it could have happened at a better time for Dinah.

In the end, Fiona went Winners Bitch all three days. Dinah went Reserve all three days. No final point, no Can. CH, nothing. I was crushed. It had never once occurred to me that we wouldn't finish. There would be no pictures, no party, no nipping out for champagne. It's what I get for assuming.

We did have fun, aside from the showing part. The pups had a fun time hanging out together, and we had plenty of play time. Val and I tried to figure out how we could talk BCCME into acquiring an RV for the use of the Show Committee. Dinah loved sleeping in the camper, and managed to take up most of the bed by stretching diagonally across the middle and lying on her back. Our hosts were kind, helpful, and encouraging, and Ann and Ashley deserve a huge amount of thanks for patiently trying to guide me through my fumbling attempts to show Dinah on my own. (At least I know I can fit into my electric-blue linen suit again!) The Kennel Club's traditional corn and mussel boil was a hoot, even though the DJ played all of the biggest hit songs from the jukebox in Hell -- very loudly. I even won a Tim Horton's coffee card in the raffle!

After a long, discouraged, empty-handed drive home, I had plenty of time to get philosophical about what had just happened. At the border, the US Customs guard asked whether I was bringing anything from Canada back into the USA. I sadly held up my empty coffee cup and said, "This is all I bought. I didn't even get one winners ribbon." He waved me through.

I'll have to make plans to bring Dinah up there again and try one more time to get that one last point, but I'll be leaving my assumptions on this side of the border.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

But the Stories You Can Tell: Priceless!

This semi-oldie was gleaned from the BeardieList. I'm sure you can identify!

The Most Expensive Collar you ever bought? Why of course ..that very first show collar!

How it all began

In the Beginning...

You got your dog, a real show dog, and quickly realized that you needed the correct collar to show him on.

Which, in turn, led you to that wonderful buttery smooth three-foot leather lead.

At your very first show, you noticed that you just HAD to have the proper grooming supplies also.

  • Slicker Brush $9.00

  • Comb $10.00

  • Spray Bottle $4.00

  • Good Conditioner $15.00

  • Water Bottle $4.00

  • Pin Brush $15.00

  • Bait $10.00

  • NEW Collar (your dog has now outgrown that first one) $14.00

  • Chalk $9.00

  • Chalk Brush $15.00

  • Wella Kolestral $10.00


  • Bait $10.00

  • Dog show calendar $12.00 — don't wanna miss ANY shows now

By now, you're beginning to realize the back seat isn't a proper way to transport your dog.

  • Dog Crate for the car $80.00

At your very next show you, begin to feel a bit more confident and relaxed at dog shows. Borrowing and waiting to use your friend's grooming table is so inconvenient.

  • Grooming Table $95.00

  • Grooming Arm $50.00

  • Bait $10.00

You begin to start collecting dog show things: old towels, skirts with pockets, dresses with pockets, good comfortable shoes, rain gear, umbrellas, water jugs, etc. Price: At least $100.00.

Too many grooming supplies?

  • Tack Box for supplies, $50.00.

Good comfortable Camp Chairs $35.00 — we seem to be spending much more time at shows lately.

Suddenly you realize all of these items AND your dog don't fit in the family car anymore.

  • Used Mini Van $15,000.

Somewhere around this point you get tired of waiting to use your friend's blow dryer.

  • New blow dryer $150.00

  • Extension Cord for Dryer $15.00

  • Five-way plug for sharing electricity with your new dog show friends $10.00

  • New and improved dog show collar and lead $40.00

  • New type of improved Coat Conditioner $15.00

  • Bait $10.00

  • Your friend's favorite Shampoo and Whitener $35.00

  • New Comb and Slicker brush $25.00 (you lost the old ones at the last show)

  • Scissors $30.00 (kitchen shears just don't trim those pads right)

  • Muddy Show grounds..Roll up mat for covering ground $45.00


The hunt for majors begins.

After wasting much money on entries where majors didn't hold, you begin to get frustrated. You seek out and find that new male show puppy and a perfect match for your female!

  • Crate for new dog $80.00

  • Show collar and lead for new dog $50.00 (your tastes have been refined now)

  • Handling classes for new dog $40.00

The very first show teaches you that your minivan will not carry both crates and all your equipment.

  • Brand New Larger Mini Van $25,000.00

Now, having two dogs to show and get ready quickly teaches you a generator is required!

  • Generator $325.00

  • Two Dog Kennels for outside $1,000.00

Just gotta pick up one of those majors on your female Handler for those major shows: $200.00 (+/-)


Your new male is too young to breed.

  • Updating & Health Clearances on Female $200.00

  • Stud Fee $1,000.00

  • Progesterone Testing $200.00

  • Whelping box $250.00

  • Vet bills-x-rays, sonograms, well mother checks $400.00

  • Putting first aid whelping kit together $300.00

  • Vaccines for new litter $150.00

  • X-pen for puppies $80.00

  • Whelping pads, fleeces, toys for puppies, weaning supplies, etc $450.00

  • Baby Scale $45.00

  • Well puppy and mother exams $150.00

Spectacular puppy in litter will be new show dog. Immediately realize minivan will NOT hold three dogs and show equipment.

  • Motor Home or Full size dog show van $30,000 to $100,000.00! !!!!!!!!

You suddenly realize you are eating macaroni and cheese while your dogs are eating Human Grade Dog food at $55.00 a bag. Congratulations! You have now earned the title of "Dog Breeder!" Aren't you glad you are finally making those big bucks breeding dogs? So far you have invested $75,652.00 in showing your two dogs.

This figure does NOT include dog food, the initial cost of your dogs, entry fees, motel bills, general vet bills, toys and Many other ownership incidentals.

Your litter of pups yielded six puppies, you kept one and sold the other five for $500.00 each.

Congratulations — you just made $2,500.00 Breeding your dogs!

Now if you can just breed 30 or more litters, you MAY just break even with your initial investment of over $75,000!

Saturday, August 01, 2009

A Pleasant Surprise

Just received my copy of The Bearded Colleague, the newsletter of the Bearded Collie Club of Canada. Seems that The Lovely One is still the #7 Bearded Collie in Canadian conformation standings in terms of 2008 breed points, as reported in the July Dogs in Canada. Not too shabby, considering she only had two wins in Canada last year. They were just big ones.

The Colleague also contained the unfortunate news that the 2010 BCCC Specialty won't be on the West Coast, I'd been looking forward to going to Victoria again (this time, with all my clothing!) with Ann and Ray and their young brownies. The good news for us is that the show might return to Gananoque in 2010, since it can't be in Victoria. Gananoque has been good to us.

Warming Up for Summer (Finally)

Like the weather, it's taken us most of the season to get into the summer showing season. This is mainly due to the old budget; this life of leisure doesn't really support my hobbies or what few vices I do have. Kathy and I have been selective about our shows, but there are some coming up that we don't want to miss.

We decided to move Badger's AKC debut from Fitchburg to Springfield. Since Kathy's other class-dog client (a boy of Lesley's) wasn't showing there, we decided to take the B-man and go where the breed points are. I would much have preferred to show at Fitchburg, if only because I don't have to shell out money from my dwindling supply for a hotel -- but maybe we won't have to go to as many shows to finish Badge if we just go to bigger ones to begin with. All those little zero-point shows I went to with Dinah were wonderful practice, but they didn't help us very much in terms of competition.

Kathy's going to enjoy the B-man. That dog is a born show-off, and will happily show himself. Dinah's beautiful and can move when she wants to, but Badge is a complete and utter ham. He doesn't gait; he floats. It will be impossible not to look at him in the ring.

This makes for an August full of adventures. I've also been possessed of the crazed notion of showing Dinah up in New Brunswick a few days before Badger's debut in Springfield. Dinah and I get to share a camper with Val, Pat, Traveler, and Fiona. Guess how much sleep we humans will get with that crowd --!!

Even our September adventures are starting to take shape. The Garden State Regional, another show that has been good to us twice in the past, has been moved to a different club's show on a weekend in September. Kathy and I had concocted an elaborate scheme where we'd get Dinah, Badger, Jake, Diva, and at least one of Lesley's dogs (Cali) to the Regional and borrow one of our favorite juniors to help show. As things worked out, we are now minus Jake and Diva, and might not be able to get Joanne to the Friday show because of school. We do have more leisure time, and maybe room for Casey the Newfie to join in the fun now. I'll miss October at Ramapo and the lovely Tuscan bistro we discovered, but we must go where the specialty goes...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

So Long, Farewell... the Irene Leduc Memorial Trophy, which has graced our living room for the past year. The Leduc Trophy came home with us after Dinah won WB at the BCCC National Specialty last year. Since we can't attend the show this year, UPS had to do the transport honors for us.

Just before I boxed it up for shipment, though, we had to have one more farewell photo...

I am weeping great salty tears at not being able to go to Quebec this year. As Canadian shows go, this one is practically right next door. Maybe next year we can go, and Dinah can enter Best of Breed...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Public Service Announcement: Handling Classes in Lincolnville, ME

Listen up, Dog Show Newbies! Wag-It Training Center in Lincolnville is offering the following show ring practice sessions (borrowed from Sumac Grant-Johnson's announcement):

Friday: July 31 6:30-7:30
Friday: Aug 21st 6:30-7:30

Sue Morlan will offer a show ring practice session to prepare for the breed ring. Sue will act as judge directing and going over dogs as at a show. (No actual judging or placements will take place.)

Pre-registration required
$20.00 - Two handlers from one household, $35.00.

limited to 12 handlers (handlers may alternate their dogs)

Sumac also is thinking of offering a regular beginners' handling class. Contact her if you'd be interested.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Some Nice Virtual News

The Lovely One has done it again! She took BOB in the MB-F Virtual Dog Show held earlier this year, and she just took BOB again in the latest show. Group judging is later in the week. She didn't get any love from the group judge this last time around, but we're hoping for better in this outing. Dinah scored a virtual Group 3 last year with most of the same competitors -- both Collies and the Aussie are very nice dogs indeed.

Now, before you think, "Of course she went BOB -- she was the only special Beardie entered," I have to point out that her breed competition was no slouch, either. She's been in the ring with some stunning girls, such as my friend Maryann's Sparkle and my friend Beth's Celia. If this had been a real dog show, she would have had to work for the honor.

I like that MB-F is holding these virtual shows more often (plus you can't beat the price). It took us a long time to accumulate enough nice photos to enter, but now we look forward to it. I only just found gaiting photos that I thought were worthy of entry, so I'll have to put one of those in the next virtual show.

From AKC's Meet the Breeds Flickr page...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Very Special(ty) Photo

Isn't she lovely? Our judge is Kimberly Meredith-Cavanna, and she and Kathy look pretty cool in the photo, considering that the sun was beating down on both of them and Dinah at the time.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Social Networking Comes to Dog Showing

Today I received a bunch of invites to a dog show-related site called The Dog Show Network. It offers some of the same benefits as other social networks, plus some extra bennies for the paying customers (including "premium content"). You can upload photos and videos, set up a blog or a Web site, participate in forums, create classified ads, and so on. The site isn't much to look at (it parties like it's Microsoft FrontPage circa 1999) and could benefit greatly from the judicious application of a spell checker, but its content does have some potential. I plan to go back and check it every so often to see what's up.

Just for the fun of it, I also decided to go have a peek at the Infodog group on This group benefits from the interface and the fact that show superintendents MB-F, the folks behind, are the group owner/moderators. It doesn't show a lot of message traffic yet -- 73 messages for 487 members -- but that could have a lot to do with the fact that eons, the self-described "social network for baby boomers," isn't exactly a booming metropolis either. Although I admit to having been born on the late end of the aforementioned boom, I'm not entirely sure I like the idea of a social network for people who don't get Facebook... but that's just me.

There are lots of groups on Facebook related to dog showing. The UK Kennel Club and AKC both have group pages, as do various parent clubs (including the UK Bearded Collie Club) and dog events (Westminster, Crufts, and the US and Canadian Bearded Collie Club National Specialties). Of course, if you can't get enough, there are also groups such as Dog Showing is Awesome!.

I don't have a MySpace account, but there are undoubtedly dog-showing devotees there, too. If you are on MySpace, let me know what dog-showing groups are there and how busy they are.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Who's the BOS?

Northeast Regional Beardie Specialty, Ladies' Dog Club
Best of Opposite Sex

It's hard to believe that six months have gone by since Dinah's last show. The last time she saw the inside of a ring was on her very first day as a special, on the Sunday of the Thanksgiving shows in Springfield.

The show season began quite a bit earlier in the year for me. I served as trophy chair for my local kennel club's shows, and stewarded for Vacationland (where the show chair really knows how to take good care of the stewarding staff). Dinah came along to Vacationland to act as my able assistant in the CGC tests, but she didn't show. She was less than impressed; she felt that if she came to a show, she should be able to show, thankyouverymuch. No crappy spectator stuff for this girlie.

Of course, I had to enter Dinah in the first-ever Northeast Regional Specialty (or whatever the heck we call it) at the Ladies' Dog Club show. The Specialty was a joint effort between the Bearded Collie Club of Maine and the Minuteman Bearded Collie Club, and it would have been impolitic as hell to not show my support by putting my girlie in. Besides, Wrentham is only a few miles from my hometown, and I couldn't just show up to my dad's house with my hands empty of visiting Beardies, could I?

Plus, I've always had a soft spot in my shriveled little heart for Ladies. 19 (eeek!) years ago, my very first Bearded Collie puppy went to Ladies for his very first show, and came in 4th in his class. Woohoo -- a ribbon! It was as though the little guy had just won at Westminster! I was so tickled that my baby Beardie boy had his very first placement there that I've been a touch sentimental about that show ever since. The rest of Merlin's story is short and sad, but that day still comes back to me with fuzzy golden edges.

Back to Ladies 2009: The weather gods smiled on us. Kathy the show chair, Debbie the hospitality chair, and Val the trophy chair all outdid themselves in making sure we had enough food, fun, and fellowship to make the weekend memorable. We even drew 5-point majors in both dogs and bitches! (This answers my agonized question of the past couple of years as to what we need to do to get majors in this region... throw a party!)

The show even brought out friends I haven't seen in ages. Rosie's mom Cindy brought her veteran girl Abbey for Veteran Sweeps. Lesley and Sue brought Cali and Jezebel, who were both still very much puppies when we last hung out at Thanksgiving. Michele (with Brock and Tart) even came up from PA and attended the show with Joanne and Jack (who is a very handsome young man!). Our friend Kandis was the Sweeps judge. Best of all... we got to stage a reunion of the fabulous all-star team of Auntie Kathy and Dinah Moe!

The Lovely One was pleased as anything to be there with her favorite boy (Traveler) and his kids Chester and Fiona. She's had weekly play dates with the Bramley/Avalon bunch since Val and I signed up for Tuesday morning Weight Watchers classes -- Dinah and Charlie come along for the ride and get to romp with Val's Beardies after each meeting. For her, the show was Old Home Week.

The puppies and veterans acquitted themselves well in Sweeps. Chester and Fiona looked wonderful, and did very well considering that this was only their second or third show. Barbara's Spirit ended up as Winners Bitch and getting the 5-point major. Barbara handled her in Bred-By, but Kathy handled her in Winners and won! Barbara was so thrilled that Kathy now gets to finish Spirit's championship. (She's also going to handle Barbara's new puppy Denbigh when he's old enough to start showing.)

There are some photos on the Web at the BCCME Web site, though all of us who took pictures are still slowly combing through hundreds of shots for the best ones. Come see what we have thus far.

I must admit that I'm liking this Best of Breed thing. Sure, you have fewer opportunities to compete in a given show since you're not showing in the classes, and there are really only two things you can win in breed competition, but if the entry is sufficiently large, the pace is much more leisurely. You can spend more time getting ready, and you're not on until last. Best of all, you don't have to care if there are majors at the show. You just go. Sure, you might get skunked more often since you're only competing in the breed ring for BOB and BOS, but the whole show experience is a lot more fun. If you're lucky enough to win BOB, the wait for Groups is usually long -- and thus more leisurely than you might like sometimes.

Kathy and the other handlers I know have always said that if the judge speaks to you while going over your dog, then you're doomed. When I saw our judge flash a big smile at Kathy and Dinah and say something, I honestly didn't know what to think. We've shown to judges who have obviously hated Dinah's type before, but they've never grinned at Kathy while doing it.

After the individual evaluations and the last go-round, the judge pulled out Roy, Dinah, and Traveler for her BOB finalists. Dinah couldn't have been more pleased -- she got to stand out there with two of her favorite boys! She shows best when she's happy, and the judge gave her Best Opposite to Roy.

Kathy told me later that the judge had REALLY liked Dinah, and that Dinah had come close to beating Roy for the breed. Roy's a magnificent dog with a high-powered handler and a big financial backing, so it's no small honor to come in second to him. Kathy also enjoys making Cliff (Roy's handler) sweat for BOB. The judge had remarked to Kathy, while going over Dinah, "I really like what I'm feeling here!" She went on to praise Dinah's structure and substance, and mentioned that Dinah did come within a hairsbreadth of getting Best of Breed. As much as I wish we could be on the other side of the hairsbreadth sometimes, you just can't hate that. Going Best Opposite at a Specialty, however small, is still a pretty good-sized win.

Of course, it's never official until I've texted Alan and emailed Gill and Jana. Jana replied that Buffy appeared to be starting labor. She had a hard road and an eventual C-section, but Buffy is now the proud and loving mum to two baby brownies, a boy and a girl. (The proud papa is Leo, Bendale Special Times, the gorgeous brownie who won Breed at Crufts.) Dinah is now an aunt!

We didn't fare as well with Dorothy Collier on Sunday -- she pretty much ignored everyone except Roy, but she deserves some props for putting up Lesley's girl Cali (who took the major on Sunday and went BOS to Roy over the bitch specials). Dinah wasn't as cheery that day as she had been on Saturday, and kept pulling on the collar and gagging herself for some reason. When Dinah's not into showing, she's Not Into Showing, and it does no good to complain.

Still, if we had to pick one day for Dinah to shine, we'd have picked Saturday anyway. Can't hate that.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Friend in the Trade...

Got an email announcement about these Show Ring Seminars being held in conjunction with Groom Expo 2009 in Pennsylvania in September. The faculty includes Frank Sabella, Peter Green, and Margery Good.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Virtual Dog Show

Every year, I enter Dinah in the MB-F Virtual Dog Show just for giggles. Just think of it -- a dog show where you don't have to do hours of grooming ahead of time, change into your show clothes, or get soaked in the rain!

The Virtual Show isn't just for conformation competitions among photos, though. People can submit and vote on "fun" photos in a variety of categories. Although entries for both categories have closed by now, you can still go and vote for your favorite fun photos. Or not. I always like to go look.

Dinah Moe was the only special entered this year. My friend Maryann's puppy Sparkle took Reserve -- that little girlie should be sweeping all the kudos as she gets older. She's a NICE puppy.

Anyway, The Lovely One took Best of Breed again this year...

Group judging starts on Thursday. We had a Group 3 last year. Wonder how we'll do this year...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Nice Surprise

Our BCCC newsletter arrived in the mail yesterday. I opened it up, read the news, and whose name should I see in the conformation standings but Dinah's! It turns out that according to Dogs in Canada (January - March 2009), Dinah accumulated enough points with her two show wins last year to be the #6 Bearded Collie in all of Canada for the year 2008! What a nice surprise! Incidentally, #5 was Seamus's brother Conor.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Another Year, Another Season

Winter's finally gone, except for a few shrinking piles of dirty snow in shady corners. Here in Maine, that means the coming of...

1. Mud
2. Blackflies
3. Dog show premium lists

Even though being unemployed means that there won't be huge numbers of shows in our future for this season, I'm still looking forward to those few that we will enter. It's Dinah's first show season as a special, plus we have that one more point to get in Canada.

And then there's this guy...

Meet Badger Blue Burfitt (Breaksea Revolution). If you've been following our tales of adventure on my other blog or on Facebook, you'll know that Badge came to live with us after his former owner sadly passed away. Jeff had intended to register Badge with the AKC and show him, but that never came to pass after he got sick. I'm now in the process of getting his paperwork done in three countries.

You have a perfect right to collapse in peals of hysterical laughter at the merest thought of me showing again, after all of the agony and drama we went through getting Dinah finished. Kathy hasn't met Badge yet, but she thinks it will probably be easier to finish him since he's 6 years old -- he won't have to go through any awkward adolescent-puppy stage. Back in the Old Country, the B-Man collected some fairly impressive wins, though it's so hard to finish a dog in the UK that he didn't finish there. He has shown at Crufts at least a couple of times, and he has 24 offspring, including one AKC CH.

Depending on paperwork, cash flow, and other circumstances, Badge's AKC debut is still a big TBD. Watch this space for any announcements. Whether or not he's entered in the show, I have promised that if I make it to the BCCA National this year, I'll bring him along so Gill, Alan, and Margaret can see him again and see how he's doing. As for the BCCC National, that's also a TBD for Badge. Dinah already has an HIC, but they are offering herding instinct tests there this year...

Dinah Moe: the Ima Special Tour

This year's first show for The Lovely One will be our Northeastern Regional at the Ladies' Dog Club show at the end of May. I decided not to enter her in the YCKC or Vacationland shows earlier in the month. Since I'm a member of YCKC and always tear-my-hair-out busy at that show, I made the executive decision to preserve the remains of my sanity and wait until Ladies to start our show season in earnest. Auntie Kathy will be at Ladies, so Dinah can make her Best of Breed debut in the best possible fashion. (Actually, Dinah made her BOB debut last November on the Sunday after she finished. This year is the first year for her to start the season as a special, though.)

Between Ladies in May and BCCC in August, we haven't made any concrete plans yet. We'll figure that out as time and my employment prospects go on. I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone, though, and I know that Trav will be happier at the shows when he sees Dinah there.

Speaking of Trav...

Congratulations to Auntie Val and Trav's daughter Fiona! Fee placed 3rd in her class at the National Capital Regional last Friday. Not bad, considering this was Fee's show-ring debut. She's only been in a ring once before, but she did very well at that match.

We're all waiting to hear news of Trav's kids. Ebby Ritchie should be having hers any day now. Sadie, Fiona's mom, had a repeat breeding a couple of weeks ago, but we're hoping that this year's puppies will be as gorgeous as last year's. Dinah and I just helped out with collecting for our old friend Rosie's AI breeding with Trav. (Dinah got to realize her dreams of being a professional "teaser bitch," a task she always performs very well. We're sure Trav appreciated the additional -- er -- inspiration.)

We're also waiting to hear whether Dinah's litter sister Buffy will be having puppies. Jana and Buffy have recently returned to the Czech Republic after a whirlwind breeding tour of the UK. The proud father-to-be is Leo, the handsome brownie who won BOB at Crufts this year. If I weren't already full up with four dogs, I would beg for one of those puppies.

Public Service Announcements

Closing date for the Northeast Regional/Ladies Dog Club show on May 30, plus the supported entry at the Framingham show that Sunday the 31st, is May 13. MB-F is the superintendent. For the Beardies and their people, we'll have some fabulous trophies and rosettes, a raffle and silent auction, a potluck lunch buffet, and plenty of camaraderie.

Closing date for Vacationland is 4/29, and the show is May 16-17 in Scarborough at the traditional spot. We don't usually have a huge Beardie entry at this show, but I hope that the folks with the puppies and other Beardie folks will enter. I'll be stewarding both days (I've requested the Beardie ring), and will be offering CGC tests after Best In Show on Saturday. The one hitch with offering CGCs at a dog show is that only dogs who are eligible to be on the grounds for the show can come for the tests -- i.e., only dogs who are entered in conformation, rally, or obedience at the show. You don't have to sign up ahead of time for the CGC test, though. If you're planning to enter Vacationland anyway, come on by after BIS. Bring $25, a brush, and a plain flat collar (and bring your dog's AKC number on your show paperwork or in the catalog).

"Supported" Entry at YCKC

I suppose we BeardieMainiacs brought it upon ourselves. By choosing to hold our first-ever Regional at the end of May, we should have predicted that only the locals would bother entering our supported entry at the beginning of May. Between that conflict and last year's crappy weather, our entries aren't exactly huge:

Saturday's entry is 6: 1-3(2-0)0

Sunday's is 5: 1-2(2-0)0

That's okay, really. We know some people who would have come will be home with little puppies at that time. I'm kind of bummed that we don't have a Veteran entry for Sunday, though -- we had a rosette and a nice trophy.

We could have decided to skip the supported entry at YCKC altogether this year, but somehow, that wouldn't have been right. It was at YCKC that we decided to form the Bearded Collie Club of Maine, after all, and we now have a tradition to uphold. Since YCKC is hoping to cluster with Vacationland after this year (assuming both clubs make enough money to be able to offer shows next year), the old Acton get-together will be no more after this year's shows. We'll decide what to do about supported entries once we see how the Regional goes.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Public Service Announcement: Handling Classes in Gorham, ME

Penny Cary of PETIQUETTE Canine Education will be holding indoor handling classes at Refreshing Paws in Gorham. Classes start on April 1 and run 6 weeks, on Wednesdays at 6:30 PM. Contact Penny for class prices and other information.

Monday, March 09, 2009

A Candid from Crufts

Congratulations to Leo (Bendale's Special Times) and his mom Anne Wilding for winning BOB at Crufts! We were cheering for him for BIS, but the judge didn't pick him for the group. Ah, well.

I hope this link stays up a while, but take a look at this CLASSIC photo taken at the show by a Reuters photographer.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Brief w00t and a Few Shout-Outs

Just wanted to announce that my article on Maine dogs at the Westminster Dog Show appears in the March issue of Downeast Dog News, and the paper's designer made the story look just fabulous. I'm deeply tickled that Holly (the editor) asked me to send her one. Thanks, Holly!

That article wouldn't even exist if it weren't for David Frei, director of communications for the Westminster Kennel Club. Because I didn't have access to a print catalog, he saved me thousands of hours of painful combing through the online results for every single AKC breed in existence by sending me the list of local competitors. I contacted a couple of them and asked them a few questions, and had the most delightful conversations. Thanks, David -- you've saved my life and helped me make my deadline. I owe you one.

Thanks too to the kind ladies who took time out of their post-show days to let me interrupt them and beg them for stories. I'm looking forward to seeing them in the ring when the snow finally leaves this latitude.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Westminster Post-Game Show

Congratulations to CH Clussexx Three D Grinchy Glee (Stump), the Sussex Spaniel who took BIS at Westminster! We who love our old guys can be especially proud that 10-year-old Stump took the honors, as if to declare that our senior dogs can still show the young pups how it's done in the show ring. Those of us who have less-popular dog breeds can be cheered that for once, a Best in Show judge had the guts to choose the dog from the 145th most popular breed in AKC registrations, instead of just going for the easily-recognizable breeds or the toy dogs again and again.

I'm happy to admit that Stump was my pick for BIS. I fell in love with that beautiful brown face during the Group judging, The camera obviously loved him as much as I did. "There," I told Greg. "There's the dog I would pick for BIS, but he doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell. Just you wait -- that Best in Show judge is going to pick a Poodle or some little foo-foo dog. No one ever picks the rare breeds."

Not that I'm knocking the BIS judge at all — Sari Tietjen has been a legend in the dog-showing world for ages, and I remember as a little kid, reading her name in the AKC Gazettes that my uncle gave me back in the '60s and early '70s. Although she is known most for her involvement with Japanese Chin, I could swear she also had Pekingese at one time. (I stewarded for her sister Joy once. We didn't hit it off.) 

Anyway, I was sure that this meant she'd favor the Brussels Griffon -- who was quite the little specimen in his own right. And, of course, there was a Poodle in the ring. I also loved Tiger Woods, the Scottish Deerhound -- another breed that I figured wouldn't get any respect. In short, there wasn't a loser in the bunch -- but the big question remained, Who would be the biggest winner from among the winners?

Was I tickled when Mrs. Tietjen picked Stump! "I can't believe it!" I told Greg. "She picked the best dog there, and it wasn't the Poodle!" I know this means that the Sussex Spaniel Club of America is going to have its collective paws full with people calling to buy Sussex puppies -- but the Sussex is a breed that won't end up going into manufacture to meet the demands of Flavor-of-the-Month fans. 

Stump has a busy year ahead of him, as Uno did last year. As the newly crowned "America's Dog," Stump will be traveling with David Frei, Westminster KC's communications director and my current hero (more on that later), to appearances all over the country. He will assume a new role as spokesdog for all good dogs. He'll visit children and soldiers in hospitals. He'll help educate people about responsible dog ownership. I'm hoping that he'll help people to think about what it means to live with and love a dog, and to help stem the crazy, wrong-headed tide of anti-dog/animal-rights-sponsored legislation that's rising all around the country and trying to end dog ownership as we know it. It's a big job, to be sure. Miss America should have as important a mission. Although David will do a lot of the talking, Stump's gorgeous hazel eyes will also speak volumes.

20 Minutes of Fame, Up From 15

You might remember last year at about this time, when my friend Monica Collins (a.k.a. Ask Dog Lady) asked me about a certain little-discussed, but no less vital, aspect of showing at Westminster. Thanks to Monica's witty syndicated advice column of the same name, dog lovers all over the country (wherever her column appears) had the chance to -- er -- go behind the scenes at the Garden. It just figured that when my 15 minutes of fame came around, that I'd spend it discussing dog poop.

Anyway, when Monica asked me to join her and her co-host on her weekly radio show, I was just tickled to bits. (I did wonder whether I'd have to watch what I said about poop over the airwaves.) We had a delightful time chatting about Stump, and our feeling that his win was a victory for senior dogs everywhere. She asked me to explain some of the acronyms in Dinah's list of accomplishments, and we even had a caller! That was perhaps the quickest 20 minutes I've experienced in my life.

You should be able to hear our portion of the show on the Ask Dog Lady Web site once it's available. The sound experts probably have to edit out all my "um"s and "ah"s. Oh, and we didn't talk about poop. (Much.) The FCC will be proud.

Public Service Announcement: Handling Classes in Fryeburg, ME

Telling Tails Training in Fryeburg is holding breed handling classes with Dayna Rousseau. The classes take place on Tuesdays from 7-8 PM. If you're in southwestern Maine or that part of eastern NH, they should be well worth the trip. I know Dayna slightly from back when I was trying to do agility with Charlie, and Dayna took some priceless pictures of Chuckles for me.

Now is a very good time to get come practice in before the show season starts in Maine. Fryeburg is a haul for me, but if you go, let me know what you think.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Dog Showing in a Nutshell

A big thank-you to Szizlin Vizslas for having this article on the very basics available on their Web site. Although there are parts specific to Vs, most of the article contains information that any Dog Show Newbie can use.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Obligatory Look Back, and Where We Go From Here

At the end of every old year/start of every new year, it's customary to look back at the year you've just slogged through and try to assess what the h-e-double-hockey-sticks just happened. Top 10 lists abound, as do pleas to vote for the Best Whatever of 2008. Given the state of things these days, there are plenty of Worsts out there, as well.

I don't feel any sense of loss in saying goodbye to old 2008, though for us, it will be the Year Dinah Finally Finished, Dammit. Just for chuckles, I scanned the past year's blog posts to compile the year's statistics. We really didn't show that much in 2008, but it wasn't for lack of trying.

Here's what we did in 2008:

  • 6 AKC shows, 4 BOS, 1 WB at a Regional Specialty, 2 majors

  • 3 CKC shows, 9 CKC points, 1 WB at a National Specialty

  • 6 eaten entries, 4 more where we pulled out before entries closed

  • 1 broken major

  • 3 UKC shows, 85 UKC points, 3 BOBs, 1 major, 1 Group 3

Some folks have told me that I'm a masochist for doing this, but I went back and calculated how many shows it took to finish Dinah. 30! 30 frickin' shows (if you count Saturdays and Sundays separately) -- and that doesn't count all of the ones where we ate the entries due to lack of competition! Granted, we did almost all of our early showing in places where Trav was the only other Beardie, so there were no points to be had. I probably should count them as lessons, since puppy entries were (at the time) cheaper than handling classes. However, the AKC counts them as shows, and so must I.

However, I am NOT brave enough to calculate how much money we spent getting there. I'm afraid I might cry.

You'll have to forgive me if I avert my eyes, stick my fingers in my ears, and sing "La la la la la la, I can't heeeeear you" every time I get reports of someone else finishing a puppy in three shows, going BOB or BOS over a dozen specials for a bazillion-point major every time. We never had that kind of luck. It was such a struggle for us that I just plain don't want to hear it. Congratulations. I'm glad for you, really. Now go away. I'm not bitter; I'm just tired.

Where Are They Now?

Nicole, the editor of The Show Ring Online (for which I'll be writing soon), asked me whether I've been bitten by the dog-showing bug as a result of my experience. The answer is maybe. A true dog-show addict, feeling just a tad bereft after finishing her first show dog, would probably rush right out and buy or breed the next puppy, and then start all over again. A real die-hard would also special the new champion.

It's not that Dinah and I don't have plans -- we do -- but I feel that achieving the CH is just the beginning of our adventures together, not the end. I'm just so relieved to finally get the whole frickin' thing over with that I can't even begin to think about starting over again with another show puppy at this point. I honestly think I don't have it in me to do this all again. "La la la la la la, I can't heeear you!"

So What's This Beginning Thing You Speak Of?

What's in store for Dinah and me for 2009? Kathy and I have been trying to compile our to-do list. The top of the list for me is to take Dinah back to Canada and get that last point for her CKC championship. Kathy pointed out that we should try to bring her back to the BCCC National as a special this year. Dinah would be only the second Am/Can CH in the Breaksea family, and the first bitch to sport that combination.

The joy of being a special is that you can pick and choose your shows, instead of desperately hurling money at every show within a 300-mile distance that stands even the remotest chance of attracting enough class dogs to make the trip worthwhile. With that in mind, we'll make an appearance at Ladies to support the local Beardie club's first Regional. Kathy and I both have warm spots in our hearts for the Garden State Regional, so we'll definitely want to head back there (and make plans for dinner at that Tuscan bistro) -- assuming we're home from the National in time. Since I have to show up to the BCCA National in Minneapolis anyway and the Burfitts will be there, Dinah might as well come along. At this point, Dinah's 2009 career as a special will probably be limited to those shows. We haven't the time or money -- or the need or desire -- to put Dinah out on the specials circuit every weekend. Kathy has a life, too -- and dogs of her own as well as other clients. It's Diva's turn to be at the top of the show-handling food chain.

Since the BCCC National is coming to Quebec (the closest thing we'll ever have to a local National Specialty), we'd be crazy not to go. Kathy and I would both like to show Dinah there as a special -- so we can plan on two Canadian shows this year.

There's always UKC, too. We've made it this far in one weekend, even with our pulling from the last show due to burnout. We might as well get that done.

Performance Events: Sticking With What We Know

Whatever will we do with all of the extra time and money we'll have now that we're not going to so many dog shows?! We've been enjoying our Tuesday-night agility classes with Auntie Cindy, and Dinah just keeps getting better and better. She improves by leaps and Beardie bounces. I improve by baby steps at best, but my handling is getting just the teensiest bit better. We're not ready for trialing just yet (as our performance at our first CPE trial strongly suggested), but we'll have more time to practice. With the money I'm not spending at dog shows, I can purchase some more equipment (or materials to make some) and a subscription to Clean Run.

Dinah also accompanies Seamus and me to Sunday morning rally-roo classes. I have her enrolled in Auntie Judy's Novice class, which meets just after Seamus's Advanced/Excellent class. I don't think Dinah sees the point of rally just yet -- why stop so many times when you could fly around the ring and really have some fun? -- but she does the best she can to humor me. Seamus loves to work for the sake of working, but Dinah's work ethic is a little different. She wants to know why one would bother. If you give her a good enough reason, she'll put her heart and soul into it.

Me to Charlie: Jump!
Charlie: Nah. Been there, done that. Ask one of the kids to jump.
Me to Seamus: Jump!
Seamus: Yes, ma'am!
Me to Dinah: Jump!
Dinah: Why?

I confess to being the world's laziest trainer, which partially explains why Dinah's littermate Buffy already has about 658 performance titles after her name while we have only two. Add to that my stage fright, and it's a wonder any of my dogs have ever earned titles at all. Duncan the Wonder Dog really only needed me to sign the entry checks and drive him to events; he could have done everything else without me.

But What About the Blog?

Ah, not to worry. I'll still have plenty to say in between shows. As an owner-handler, I'm still very much on the newbie end of the scale -- so there are plenty of newbie adventures to be had. Here's to 2009!