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.

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