Friday, February 15, 2013

Today Is The Day

Hopefully the day Watson gets his splint off.  Vet appointment for xrays that we hope will show the broken bone in his foot has healed well enough.  Poor Watty Boy has had a rough winter, first with the ear hematoma and then with the broken bone.  He's been a trooper through it all, cheerful, affectionate, and his normal busybody self.  He's started licking his leg at the top of the splint where the bandaging was rubbing, so has to wear an e-collar when not being supervised.  Sure hope that when the bandages come off he will leave that area alone, and will not have to wear the collar!

We've made the decision to continue walking Watson out to the dog yard by his collar, as I'm sure the injury was caused by leaping off the deck steps, trying to get a jump on any rabbits, cats or squirrels that might be in the yard.  He had previous injured his shoulder and his back (twice) doing just that!   Because he's 12 1/2 years old and has not been able to get his regular walks, and because wearing the collar creates its own problems, I'll take Watson in next week for a chiropractic evaluation to see if anything needs adjustment.

As I watch my incredibly cute puppy getting into mischief in the family room, I realize I have taken no pictures this week.  Gotta make up for that!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Grand Finale

As I have done for so many years, I went over to my mother's on Monday and Tuesday evening to watch Westminster (I don't have cable, and rarely watch TV otherwise).  I bring dinner one night and she prepares it the other, and we watch the dog show together.  She's never been a "dog person" but always enjoys this one, and has always had an amazingly good eye for dogs - and I'm always surprised at the gaiting faults she can recognize, without actually knowing anything about structure and movement.  Some years she falls asleep before the end, but not this year.  She didn't miss a dog.

Fern came along with me last night and had a great time retrieving her toys down grandma's long hallway.  Fern tends to be a little "dog dependent" so it was a good chance for her to leave the other dogs behind and enjoy being an only dog.  She was very good, and I'm glad I took her along.  She's grown up so much in the past few weeks.

I've attended Westminister five times, four as a spectator and once (showing Argus) as an exhibitor. It's so much fun, but an expensive proposition, especially if you take a dog.  Everything is pricey of course, including transportation, hotel rooms, food, and tickets, but well worth it.  I'll be ready to go again in a couple more years!   Just seems that there are always other things for me to spend my money on and the TV coverage is quite satisfactory.  The website for Westminster is a good one, and this year I had an iPhone App too.

Lots of surprises this year, including the Dobe and the Wire Fox (two of the favorites) not winning their Groups.   The Sporting Group was so competitive, with the GWP, Springer, and Black Cocker all being spectacular dogs.  Westminster handling has improved a lot over the years, and very few dogs appeared as over-whelmed as in the past.  The Herding Group judge seemed to be a bit heavy-handed, and several of the dogs did not seem to appreciate that, and a few of the Working Dogs appeared less than thrilled to be there, but all in all the showmanship was excellent.

Old English Sheepdogs are not a breed I normally pay any attention too, but I absolutely loved the dog who won the Herding Group.  Already a Best in Show winner, he was Best Of Breed from the classes (not yet a champion) over 19 Specials.  His Reserve Best In Show (the first year it was offered at Westminster) was well deserved.  Have always loved the Affenpinscher "Banana Joe" and was thrilled to see him go all the way this year.  Joey retired with the win - what a fantastic career he has had - and his wonderful handler Ernesto joins the ranks of those who have piloted a dog to Best in Show at the Garden.   Well done! 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

We're Back

We made it home safe and sound, although came in Monday afternoon rather than Sunday night.  Weather was just too unsettled, and I really hate driving Wisconsin west of Black River Falls in bad weather.  Have had way too many white knuckle adventures on that hilly windy section with the hundred foot drop offs along side the road.  We had a lovely and successful weekend, my first specialty weekend since the end of August.

Fernly did better than expected and certainly did well for a dog who sometimes acts as if she was born with only half a brain.  She's plenty smart, but sometimes unfocused and distractible.
Not uncommon in 8 month old pups, and much like her mother Pauli was at this age.  It helped to have large asphalt parking lots (with no snow or ice) as well as some room in the show building to practice her gaiting.  Poor Fernly is so used to walking on snow and ice this time of year, and has been pacing rather than trotting for the past month.  She got it together pretty well and gaited much better than expected most of the time.  Stacks were not always perfect, and she needs work on the exams, but it was OK for a first time in the ring. She won Best Junior in Sweepstakes over a number of nice puppies each day, and won her 6 - 9 month regular classes as well.  Nice classes with plenty of competition.  Good girl, Fern.  By the end of each show day, after going in the ring 5 times, Fern was totally exhausted.

The star of the weekend was Gemma, one of the Cruise/Penny daughters, and my daughter Jess's project for this spring.  This was only Gemma's second weekend out, but she performed like a star, winning the large Bred By Exhibitor class both days, and on Sunday going on to Winners Bitch and Best of Winners for a nice big 5-point major.  Way to go, Gemma!  Gemma is the fourth pup in her litter to have at least one specialty major.  She was a perfect traveler and showed very well.

It was fun to get back in the ring, although my legs are sure stiff and sore from all the ups and downs (I kneel part of the time when stacking Fern), all the walking, and the long distance driving.  I was also pretty winded by the time I was done showing Fern each day - lots of trips around that ring gaiting the dog.  Thought I was pretty fit - found out what I need to be working on before the spring shows!

The trip also gave me some ideas for future blog posts.