Wednesday, December 23, 2009

It's Beginning To Look . . .

a lot like a very weird Christmas! I remember snowy Christmases as a kid, and our family trips to visit the grandparents in northern Minnesota. We've had very few snowy Christmases during my adult life, and many very brown ones. Not this year, I guess! We're supposed to celebrate at home this year, and then do a family Christmas at my sister's on Saturday. We've ordered a pre-made Christmas dinner to take over to my mother's weather permitting, but it sounds as if we have one heck of a snowstorm on the way. Way too much to get done before all that happens!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What Fun!

Argus & I had SUCH a fun weekend and it was a great way to end a really nice dog show year. Weather is always a concern this time of the year and things were not looking too good as we arrived in the Chicago area on Friday evening. Dry roads changed to wet ones with light snow and then to slushy roads with heavy wet snow. Ugh. I90 just north of the city, heading for a hotel I have never been to, and with no direct exit. I had programmed the address into Sally Forth my navigator and let her call the shots. Well done, Sally! Don't use her often, but navigators can be indispensable.

The hotel was great and the prices amazing affordable. I normally spend more to stay at a dump in Iowa than we did to stay at the Hilton Garden Inn, Des Plaines. Friendly staff, wonderful rooms, fabulous beds, and excellent showers. Even a good dining room. Wow. And the nicest part of all was the free shuttle that took us back and forth between the hotel and the dog show, any time we wanted it, and we took full advantage of it. One more "adventure" for Argus.

By a trick of the dog show calendar, these were the only shows in the country, so we had lots of dogs and handlers we would not normally see, which made the show larger and far more interesting. Excellent competition in the groups. I had entered for Friday as the Group judge has done well for Argus, but with all that has been going on we had to skip the Friday show. We had a judge change for Sunday, the only breed judge that had previously used Argus, so we basically went for the fun and a chance to visit with friends. Argus's half-brother Major was there (#2 Dalmatian), and won the breed on Friday & Saturday, but Argus won on Sunday which was a nice surprise under the substitute judge. He showed extremely well which pleased me, as he's been at this for two years and most dogs lose their sparkle. Not Argus, who is now showing the best he ever has.

The vendors were good and we got a great deal on dog coats - nice fleece ones for $5.00, end of season merchandise from Foster & Smith I believe. My dogs rarely wear coats or sweaters but I like to carry them in the car when I travel with dogs in the winter. Just in case . . . I also purchased a something for my tendinitis as it has flared up again this winter. A rice and herb filled "cape" that you heat up in the microwave. The heat, pressure & aroma really seem to make a difference and I'm delighted with my purchase. Merry Christmas to me!

Our friends Ginger, Laura & Cheryl spent the weekend, three of my favorite people. We agreed that this should become an annual get together - maybe I'll make my reservations soon. ;-) Meg & Mike came in for dinner on Saturday too. The Tiki Terrace is a Polynesian restaurant and was such fun! Could not have anticipated how much I would enjoy the show that consisted of dancing, singing, acrobatics and audience participation. It was an absolute blast and the food was even pretty good.

We didn't get out of the show until well after 5:00, took the shuttle back to the hotel (they were fine about our parking there even after we had checked out), and I was on the road by 6:00. The roads were perfect, and I made it home in record time.

I suffered dog show burn out about 7-8 years ago and vowed that I would never ever campaign a dog again. It just takes so much out of you. The highs are so high, but the lows are soooo low. Wasn't sure I would even show a dog again after I finished Josie, but it's in my blood I guess, something I have done since I was a teenager. I told Carrie when I purchased Argus that I would not special him, but when he proved too good NOT to special I made an agreement with myself that we would show FOR FUN, and when/if it was NOT fun I would not do it. When Mark & Ginger signed on to Team Argus, that was our agreement - when either Argus or I were no longer having fun it was time to quit. Never thought I would have this much fun or that I would still be enjoying it, but I've tried to concentrate on the friends & fun this time around. Argus is a blast to travel with, I've met some great people and made new friends, many of my old friends have been extremely supportive, the judges I respect have almost all liked the dog, and Mark & Ginger have been wonderful co-owners.

This ends Year Two, and again Argus finished #4 in the breed. The only dogs ranked above him are full time specials, shown every weekend by professionals, and we can't match that. I show dogs because I enjoy showing dogs, not because I have lots of money and want to BUY a top spot in the rankings. This is the only sport where amateurs and professionals show under the same rules, and again we are the top owner-handler team, beating out many dogs handled professionally. Additionally, Argus won more Non-Sporting Groups than any other Dalmatian this year.

Good dog Argus, it's been a blast! Only 2 1/2 weeks until the first shows of 2010!