Well, the shows at Wassamki came and went. Beautiful weather, lovely campground, good company... it was a very nice weekend. It was not a successful weekend, but it was very enjoyable.
There were three dogs entered each day, so I had hoped that Ian might come away with, if not both points he needs to finish, then at least one of them.
Um, yeah. Not so much. Not only did he not come away with a point, he didn't even come away with a Reserve. Now THAT is what we call being royally dumped at a dog show.
Elli came out of the weekend slightly better with one Reserve, finishing second in Open Bitches each day to her littermate, who was also Winners Bitch two of the three days. Congrats to Ah-Leah on her wins. I never have a lot of expectations for Elli in the ring; she is almost always the smallest one in there, and while she does have some nice qualities, many judges are going to look at her size compared to the rest and are not going to look any further. I need to find the judges who will. Regardless of whether I get her finished or not, she will be bred this winter on her January/February heat cycle (assuming she passes OFA), because I definitely see enough in her to build on. I'm about 95% certain of who her suitor will be; more on that once I firm it up.
But -- Ian. At what point do you say "enough is enough?"
Ian didn't come here to be a show dog. He came through an act of Divine Intervention: I was on a waitlist for a Pembroke and just counting down the days until the breeder I had chosen had a puppy for me. In the meantime, I was reimmersing myself in the dog world after a looooong absence. I was surfing the Web and had probably Googled "corgi" when I came across a picture of an available 16 month-old Cardigan -- this one, to be exact:
I had heard of Cardigans, certainly, but I had honestly never even considered one. I hadn't met any personally, I didn't know anyone who had one, and to be honest, I thought they were pretty funny-looking. But I tossed and turned and thought about that face all night and all the next day at work, and that evening when I got home I knew I had to make a phone call, because This Was My Dog. As it turned out, Ian's breeder had recently moved to Virginia from up here in Maine, we knew a lot of the same people, and everything just clicked. A check was mailed, transport arrangements were made, and a few days before Christmas '07, Ian came home to me.
Ian had originally been sold as a show puppy but had been returned for reasons that had very little to do with him and a whole lot to do with the buyer. He had been shown a couple of times but did not have any points. Since his breeder felt that he "was not a group-winning special or anything, but was finishable," I decided what the hell, I'd show him and see what we could do.
You know how they refer to marijuana as a "gateway drug?" Well, Ian was my gateway dog. He won two out of three shows his first weekend out, and with me!, who had never shown in conformation before. He's the one who started me down this fun, rewarding, frustrating path that I'm on, and I Thank Dog for it.
But that was a lot of shows ago. I keep a spreadsheet for each dog of all shows entered, the judge, the result, comments about it, etc. To date, Ian has been shown 33 times. You know how much a show entry averages; you do the math. And that doesn't count the shows that I entered but didn't go to for whatever reason, or any of the other 1,001 expenses associated with showing a dog.
Ian stands at 13 points, 3 majors. "He's so close, you have to finish him up now!" That's what I've been telling myself. But right now I've spent a whole lot of money to bring him to where he is. This is not a dog I'm going to breed. He wasn't sold on a show contract, nor with any expectation that he would do anything other than be a beloved pet and possible obedience/agility partner. Does it really make sense to keep throwing money at show entries and hoping something will stick? At what point does the number of times he's been shown just become embarassing? When do you cut bait, throw in the towel, call it a day, etc.?
When? July 22nd.
What happens on July 22nd? Magnum turns six months old. Magnum WAS sold as a show puppy, WAS chosen for that purpose. I DO have plans to breed him (again, assuming that he passes his health screenings). And if he turns out anywhere near as nicely as I dare to hope he'll be, I can't wait to get him out there. My time and resources are woefully finite, and I need to focus them on the future, one that I hope will be very bright for "the little man."
So, Ian? My lovely boy, my heartdog, my gateway to this crazy world: you are and always will be first in my heart and on my pillow. Let's get that CDX, and start herding, and maybe take up tracking one of these days. Let's throw the Kong out in the backyard, snuggle on the couch during Doctor Who. Let's give this conformation thing a last hurrah these next two months, and let the points fall where they may.
After July 22nd, the show ring belongs to your brother.
Edited to replace the first picture with a cropped one, thereby losing the pajama pants. Also fixed the red eye issue. The purple thing is a little graduation cap, with a dog biscuit on top. That would be why it's not on Magnum's head. Eating the hat = not cool.
Tonight is Magnum's graduation from Puppy K, to be followed in a couple of weeks with a beginner's course at Thom's. Since this will be my third set of Basic with Thom, I darn well better have the best behaved puppy in class. If I don't, shame on ME! If I remember to take the camera with me tonight then there will be photos tomorrow. Anyone want to start a betting pool on how many seconds Magnum will leave the cap on his head? I'm gonna go with negative 1.5.
This weekend, Ian and Elli are entered Friday through Sunday at the shows in Scarborough. It's a lovely site at the Wassamki Campground when the weather is nice, and the forecast for the weekend is superb (we need to borrow that club's Weather Chairman!). There are only three dogs entered in the classes each day, so fingers crossed super-tight that Ian can go 2 out of 3 and FINALLY finish. Not counting on it, but it would sure be nice! If Ian doesn't come up WD, then I get to console myself by showing Karen and Cheryl's Brady in Best of Breed. I adore that dog; he's gorgeous and super-fun. I just need to convince him to stand and look pretty for his treat rather than sitting.
Magnum is going to Wassamki as well to take in the show atmosphere and have a little puppy party with Mary and Nancy's puppies, Song and Aldo. I hesitate to take him out in public at all right now because OH GOD! is he going through the puppy uglies. I mean, to John Q. Public, he's a cute and engaging puppy. But these are show people! And here's Hocky McHockerton all up on his hocks, legs flying everywhere, skinny tubey body, ears out to here... maybe I'll cut up a sheet, cut a couple of eye-holes, and make believe he's at a costume party. No one gaze directly upon the monstrosity!!
At least I've: a) seen photos of other Pecan Valley dogs and how they develop; and b) gone through the puppy fuh-HUG-lies with Elli, so I'm not doing the "oh sweet lord in heaven what the hell have I bought?!" panic dance thing this time around, but I imagine there will be some raised eyebrows at my "show puppy". He's four months old, people; he's SUPPOSED to look heinous right now.
Oh! Elli's photo from the Nationals arrived last week. All that drama, and it was really kind of a crappy picture. Elli wasn't stacked well AT ALL. I should have taken more time to set her up the way I wanted instead of relying on the photographer to tell me where to set her legs. $40.00 lesson learned. If I ever get a minute to hook up the scanner to my laptop, I'll scan it in and post, but I'm mighty disappointed after all the photo angsting. :-(
After having Magnum at her house during Nationals week, Joanna said to me that Magnum attracts more attention than any five dogs. That is SO true.
Before our Puppy K class on Wednesday, we went over to Camden to walk around the park and up and down Main Street. I literally could not pass people without receiving some comment on him. "What kind of dog is that?" "He has Husky eyes." "I've never seen that color before." "How big will he get?" "Look at those ears!" And, my favorite, "Squeeeeeeeeeee!!!" At one point he was descended upon by about 8 teenagers, all scootching down, squeeing, and petting him. That kind of a cluster#$%& would have freaked a lot of puppies out, but he let them all pet him, licked hands, and yeah, okay, he may have tried to jump on a couple people. We'll break him of that eventually.
Beyond the friendliness, though, what REALLY impressed me was how well he walked with me up and down Main Street. Magnum isn't used to a ton of traffic, and there's a TON of it going through downtown Camden this time of year. Lots of cars, lots of foot traffic. There were kids on skateboards, men on ladders, little kids, big trucks and motorcycles going by, you name it. I would have fully expected ANY puppy or young dog to be all over the place, looking at and sniffing all of these crazy new distractions.
Magnum? Walked beside me perfectly, loose leash, looking up at me with only a glance here and there to grab a quick look at things and to see where he was going. You guys, IAN doesn't walk through town that nicely on leash. And he knows what "Heel!" means. I can only pray that I don't somehow screw Magnum up, because if he can focus this well at 16 weeks then I may have a lovely obedience dog on my hands, in addition to being "Look at me, I'm gorgeous!"
Joanna, if I win the Powerball, I'm going to commission like FIFTY puppies from you. And you really need to make some business cards and send me a bunch to hand out. They'll be flocking to you in droves.
Aaaaaaaand, we've reached the stage of development where it's All Legs, All The Time. This puppy is growing like a weed. I think Joanna fed him some Miracle Gro while he was at her house. Fifteen weeks is NOT the most attractive time in Cardi development, that's for sure.
Oh, okay, maybe not ALL legs. Because these ears? Can pick up channels from Japanese satellites. We measured, and they're actually 1/2 inch longer than Ian's already. If this guy grows into his ears and feet, he's going to be YOOOGE. YOOOOOOGE!!!
Wow, so Nationals happened. I don't know what I was expecting, but it was definitely more of a whirlwind than I thought it would be. A brief synopsis:
Sunday: drive down to Joanna's to drop off Magnum. Visit and kibbitz and show Elli to Joanna and Kate. Take off after about an hour and half for Gettysburg. Mostly uneventful trip, other than a few aborted attempts to get gas. Memo to the Department of Transportation: When you say gas is available at a certain exit, maybe it shouldn't be 8 miles from the exit. Sheesh. Get there around 6:30 p.m., check in, haul stuff to the hotel room. Find a sandwich and crash.
Monday: Get up at 7:00 to be over at the obedience building by 8:00. When Open A comes up, take Ian in for our most embarassing performance to date. His nose was stuck to the carpet like it was super-glued there. As far as he was concerned I did not exist. At all!! We never even made it to the jumping exercises. The judge and I both agreed that we should be excused. Wow. Not how I wanted to do at Nationals. After that, I stewarded for the rest of the afternoon. Find something to eat, take the dogs for a long walk because I have Mom guilt for them being crated so much. Look at schedule for next day, meet up with Nancy, Mary and Warren and order hotel room service pizza. Set the clock for the earlier obedience start time since I said I'd steward again.
Tuesday: Wake up and realize that setting the clock for a certain time is useless if you don't actually turn on the alarm. Get to the obedience building just as classes start rather than the 1/2 hour ahead of time I was supposed to be there. Steward 'til 11:00, then go to the hotel room to await Shelley's arrival. Check Facebook while I can get the very spotty wireless. Realize that she does not have my cell number. Crap. Find a phone number for Shelley, which turns out to be her home number. Fortunately, her dogsitter is home and gives me her cell number. Call it and find out she's downstairs in front of the hotel. Help get her unpacked and situated. Take my dogs for a quick potty break. Rush back to obedience building to finish out stewarding and break down the ring set-up. Run over to watch the Megan. Grab dinner at hotel restaurant with Jeri and Kate during dinner break. You wouldn't think that they could screw up something as simple as pasta with pesto. You would be wrong. Finish out the Megan, potty dogs, crash.
Wednesday, Thursday: Honestly, they kind of blur together, but can be broken down roughly as watch a bunch of conformation, guiltily walk my poor crated dogs, go to dinner with either Mary and Nancy or Karen and crew.
Friday: Bitch classes. Watch the earlier classes, then take Elli out, get her all gussied up, go change into my show clothes, then return to the ballroom to find out that they've decided to do the various parades before Am Bred. So, I had an extra half hour to kill before going in the ring. It ended up working well because I left Elli with Karen for that time so she would be more focused on me when we went into the ring.
Finally, we got into the ring. Am Bred had nine entries. That's a bigger class than Elli has ever been in, so it was a lot longer for her to "on." We were next to last in the ring, so there was a lot of time between going in and when she got to strut her stuff. I am so proud of my girl: she self-stacked when I asked her to, she played touch games, twirled, and sat up on cue (upping her cuteness factor). When it came time to go up on the table, she stacked quickly and held her pose when the judge turned to look at her. She behaved well on the down and back and the around. By the end of the class, when they all went around as a group, she was really amped and so didn't gait as well. The judge kept looking at her the whole class and I thought we might have a shot at 1st, but we wound up 2nd, which is still a really cool thing at a National specialty.
After the bitch classes finished, I took Elli to wait for a photo. I honestly wouldn't have even thought about doing that for a second place from the classes, but several folks urged me to, it being a National and all, so I figured why not. The huge line was then told that the judge would take a one hour lunch break before photos. I made a dash to Friendly's for lunch with Mary and Nancy and then came back. They were just finishing up photos of Winners Bitch when I got there, and I was the last one left. I was told by the judge's husband, "She's not doing any more photos today. If you really need to have one, come back tomorrow."
You know, I can understand her being tired, and that they had some other things they wanted to do with the rest of their day. I mean, it would have taken all of 2 minutes to do another photo, but I get it. But he really didn't need to take the nasty tone with me, you know? Yes, I realize it was only a 2nd place, and from Am-Bred no less, but jeez. Maybe he's a big shot and used to winning big shows, but some of us are just starting out and aren't exactly at that level yet. Thanks for stomping all over my enthusiasm at my very first National, asshole.
I wasn't going to bother going back the next day for the photo, but was again urged to and told I'd regret it if I didn't. So I got over myself and went back on Saturday for the pic. If it's not too hideous of either one of us, I'll scan and post when it gets here.
Saturday night was the annual banquet and silent auction, then up and on the road Sunday. I got behind an accident on what I guess was I-78 in Pennsylvania, and it took me literally 2 hours to move 4.5 miles to my exit. Apparently a Honda Civic decided to go the wrong way on the highway and had an unfortunate meeting with a tour bus. I saw the car -- or the mangled ball of metal that used to be the car -- up on the tow truck when I went by. It was unrecognizeable as a vehicle. I learned later that the driver didn't make it, which doesn't surprise me, having seen the end result. Bad stuff.
FINALLY get to New Hampshire and meet up with Doug and Joanna and my little man! I swear he grew like a weed while he was down there. Those ears! And those feet! If he grows into those he will indeed grow into his name.
So overall, the Nationals flew by and I got to meet lots of people from blogland and websites and stuff, and hear lots of gossip. I also got to look at my leading choice for stud dog for Elli and meet his owner, who I really liked, which is nice if we're going to make babies together. I did feel bad that my dogs spent as much time in their crates as they did; I don't think the Nationals were anywhere near as fun for them as they were for me. If I make it to Houston next year it will likely be dogless, as I'll be flying and do not want to fly a dog.
And now, back to real life and work and trying to earn some money to make up for what I just spent. o_O
When I'm not playing with the dogs, I can be found working on one unfinished novel or another, watching sci-fi on TV, reading contemporary fantasy, working on the vegetable garden, or haunting Television Without Pity, Twitter, or Facebook on the internet.
Smalltyme Cardigans is a tiny kennel-without-a-kennel in Warren, Maine. I chose "Smalltyme" not only for my last name, but also because I will never be a big-time breeder. My dogs live in the house, climb on the furniture, heckle the cats, and go hither and yon with me. They also compete in conformation, obedience and agility. I hope to breed my first litter of puppies in late 2010/early 2011. Thanks for visiting!