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!