Time for some hard decision making. Who stays, and who goes? Just to the National, I mean!
Had planned to take and show Fern if she was working OK, and if she was moving correctly. The puppy classes are large which will be fun, but they will be very competitive and I don't show "just to show". Many 9-12 month bitches are ready to win. Fern is not one of them. Last year our Meribel was Best of Winners from that class, and Adele won the Sweeps and Futurity from that class. If my dog won't be competitive, it will be far easier to leave her home. Decided I would take her to handling class last night to help me make the decision.
It's not that she's not beautiful. When I stacked Fern in front of the mirrors last night I was amazed at how good she looked. Absolutely gorgeous outline. Lots of angles, perfect topline, lovely neck. Her head has matured too, and her face is quite pleasing. She went through a flaky stage, but we got past that, and she was very happy, wagged on the exams, and tried to introduce herself to everyone. Just as friendly and outgoing as I could ask.
And then we had to move. Fern started pacing sometime last winter. Dogs are supposed to trot in the show ring, not pace - pacing means both legs on the same side are moving at the same time. It's an easy gait, does not require good foot timing, and is more common in pups and old dogs. Fern should not have to pace as her structure is very good, but there's something that is "off" when she moves. Maybe foot timing, maybe some kind of an injury that only shows up this way. Because she had a very short back, hard topline, and lots of angle, Fern's timing has to be perfect to move properly. It's not. She can trot, but not reliably, and especially not when she's excited or distracted - and Fern at 10 months is always excited or distracted! Last night she developed a new quirk, one we saw in her mother Pauli. As Fern is trotting along, she gives a little hop, sort of a jumping for joy. When Pauli did that, she would then resume trotting. When Fern does that she slips back into a pace. ARGH! When she concentrates she does fine, but she's still too silly to concentrate for any length of time.
Sooooo, it looks as if Fernly might be missing DCA this year. Still thinking, but leaning that way. I hate to waste the entries, but it would be a lot easier to leave her behind. There will be lots of other shows for Fern, and I'd rather work this out before we do any serious showing. If winter ever gives up we will start biking, since I can't walk fast enough to keep her trotting correctly. That should help a lot. I'm delighted she has come so far, and very pleased with how she's looking. But we still need that third piece. Type and attitude are there, but gaiting - not so much. At least not yet.
If Fern stays behind, I only have to deal with Argus and Max. Argus is entered just for fun as he has nothing to prove. He'll really enjoy the trip, and I almost feel as if I "owe" him that for all that he has done in the show ring, and especially at the National. Retirement was not his choice. Max can come along for fun, and learn all about dog shows and motels. He'll make new friends, get to play with his sisters, and his co-breeder Jana will get to see him. I'll have lots more time to do things, like work in the health clinic, and stand at ringside watching dogs and getting caught up with old friends. I really need a vacation, and the trip will be a lot easier if Fern stays behind.
I am still arguing with myself about this. Jess says I probably won't make up my mind until we are ready to leave!