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.

1 comment:

Miss Muddy Paws said...

You must post a picture of the B-man sleeping! That sounds so cute!