To see the pack in action, please check out our video for the Susan Garrett Recallers Contest at Recallers video.
Today we arrived at the dog show grounds only to be asked to pay a day parking fee that was 8 times the amount listed in the premium list. The rationale was that because we were in the RV, we should have made an overnight parking reservation. Since we had arrived at 9 am and would have left the grounds by 3 pm, I didn’t really see where overnight parking was involved in any way. We had the RV because bringing it was the only way for me to have access to electricity for grooming, a necessity to be competitive with either of the breeds we had entered. Ludwigs Corner, where the show was held, has acres of parking space so it’s not like there isn’t room. Besides, it’s a dog show and almost everyone has an oversized vehicle. I specifically asked and was told that a handler with a large box truck would not be charged the higher rate, even though x-pens and an awning would mean that the handler’s truck would take up a significantly larger footprint than our motor home.
In the end, we opted to leave rather than agree to pay the exorbitant and arbitrary parking fee. This meant giving up $92 in entry fees (the last money the Chester Valley Kennel Club will get from us), wasting a day off from work that could have been put to better use, and that the time spent grooming 3 coated breed dogs yesterday was unnecessary. Not showing our class dogs also decreased the number of points available in both PBGVs and Aussies- if you were affected by that, be sure to complain to the club and not to us. Maybe the bigger issue is that I find myself questioning yet again if it’s really worth showing my dogs in conformation.
I don’t know how many people really put thought into what it means to attend shows as an owner handler. Preparing a PBGV for the show ring and maintaining his coat in condition is an extremely time consuming process. I know that some people really love grooming and get into it as a form of artwork- I’m not one of those people. In 1990 I fell in love with a casual tousled breed that has morphed into a highly sculptured show dog, requiring extensive trimming and enough styling product to be personally responsible for global warming. Even if I limit my showing to weekends, grooming multiple PBGVs for the show ring without help means either taking time from work or not sleeping at night. Often all this effort results in arriving at the show to discover that there are no points, even if other people agreed to enter dogs. I guess this is why so many people use handlers now, but having one dog out with a handler would cost the same as running 5 dogs in agility, so it isn’t that appealing. Besides, I don’t really see the point in having dogs just to send them out on the road with someone else.
The old story is that the point of the show ring is to evaluate breeding stock. Really? Can anyone honestly say that a dog with a championship title earned by competing only against other dogs from the same kennel is more deserving than a dog who isn’t finished because his owner doesn’t own enough dogs to make up a major? As a breeder I feel pressure to finish my dogs’ championships but would feel better about making the effort if I could trust the system a little more. Dog show entries get smaller every year- maybe I’m not the only disenchanted breeder- owner- handler out there.
I know this recap is a little late, but it always seems to take a couple weeks to recover from a big trip, and I think 2300 miles each way with 7 dogs counts as big. Last month Dave and I made the trek to Tucson for the PBGV national specialty. All 7 petits got to go, while Juno and the Aussies stayed home and got spoiled by their favorite house sitter. The drive took about 33 hours, which we split over 4 days. There’s a whole lot of nothing once you pass through St. Louis and not a lot of food options that don’t involve golden arches, although we did get to pass through Hatch, NM- the Chile Pepper Capital of the world. We did a little shopping and had a great meal there. Of course Chili and Salsa posed for photos.
We arrived in Tucson on Monday. Agility was on Tuesday and Wednesday, about an hour from the host hotel. We opted to stay at the host hotel anyway, because it seemed like a better option than having to keep unpacking and repacking the van. Agility was outside under a roof on sand, which is not a common running surface in our area. Chili had a knocked bar before she realized how to adjust but did ok for the rest of her runs. The biggest challenge was getting the dogs into the ring without any sand spurs in their feet, as these seem to be all over the southwest. I ran Chili, Salsa, Maya, and CC in all three classes (standard, JWW, and T2B) which is a lot of runs in a row. Salsa won standard and Qd in Time 2 Beat both days and Chili won T2B and jumpers both days. They shared High in Trial honors, with Chili winning the regional and Salsa edging her out by 0.04 yards per second at the national. Maya came out of retirement to run at this trial and won preferred Time 2 Beat at both shows and jumpers at the regional. CC wasn’t too sure about the non-rubberized contacts, but finished her Open Jumpers title at the regional. It was great to see how many people came out to support the agility exhibitors despite the distance from the host hotel. This was the first national in many years where the show chairman took the time to attend an offsite agility trial.
Thursday was a really long day, as the regional obedience, rally, and conformation was held. The day started with the realization that the obedience ring had no gates- just a chain around the top that was well over the dogs’ heads. Had I known this, I probably would have thought twice about entering the young dogs in off leash classes, but I was fortunate that all of my dogs stayed in the ring- others weren’t so lucky. I don’t think dogs were necessarily trying to leave, but this type of gating doesn’t really give them clear parameters of the working area.
Obedience started really well, with CC getting High in Trial from Novice B for her first CD leg. Muse qualified in Beginner Novice B with a third place. Wally broke his sit stay in obedience, but redeemed himself by winning Rally Advanced A, with Muse placing second to him. CC got her 3rd RAE leg and baby Gromit placed second in Rally Novice.
Obedience ended at about 9:57, at which point it occurred to me that sweepstakes started at 10:00 and neither Gromit nor Maya had been on a grooming table yet. I had spent the afternoon before bathing everyone to remove the orange sand from the agility site, so at least they were clean. Gromit place second in his puppy sweeps class and his Grandma Maya was Best of Opposite Sex in veteran sweeps.
In regular classes Gromit placed second in Bred By, Wally and Muse were each second in the hunt classes, and Maya won her veteran class.
Friday was a shorter day, with just obedience and rally. CC was 8 seconds away from another High in Trial when she sat up on the down stay:( Wally and Muse both qualified in Beginner Novice and finished their titles. Everyone qualified in rally again.
I had signed up to take the Community Canine (CGCA) test with Chili, Salsa, and Maya on Friday afternoon, but it was rescheduled for Saturday morning so we got another early start. All three girls passed the test fairly easily.
We skipped sweepstakes at the national because a close friend was judging. This also meant that I actually had time to groom the dogs properly for regular classes, which was a nice bonus. Gromit was second in Bred By again and Maya was second in veterans. Wally and Muse won the Hunt Dog and Bitch classes and Muse made it to the final cut in Best of Breed. It was nice to feel like the judge was taking these classes seriously. It is still absolutely possible to have a good quality PBGV who can perform the work the breed was developed for, although as grooming for the show ring becomes more intense, I’m afraid we will see fewer people willing to bring their show dogs into the field.