This is the time of year in the show ring where there are a lot of wacky things going on. Most saavy show people are aware that this is the ending for some dogs and the beginning for others. Judges are lobbied more than ever by handlers, owners and monied backers to push this dog or that dog to the front. These people are jockeying for position in the coming season. There is usually a group of handlers trying to solidify a position in the rankings for their dogs to justify their ponderous fees. They must do a certain percentage of winning to ensure their charges will be back the next year. Dog showing is a very competative business and no more so than at this time of the year.
We have had real competition in our area this year. We have gone head to head in the ring and traded victories on several occasions. The judges favored their dog more times than we would have liked, but never was there a question of it being anything other than the judge’s decision. No nefarious behind the scenes shenanigans, just two groups of people trying their best to win. We have each deserved our wins and at times our loses. Tough competition makes everyone better and both our lines will benefit.
Eva is in the last few weekends of a long show season. We have been plagued by judges who clearly don’t like her type. Some of these judges we have shown to for years with no positive results. Nothing has changed. What has been particularly irksome is that they seem to have come up on panels in our area all at once. For Eva this year it has been a campaign of avoidance. Consequently, she and her handler, Odebt, have visited places like Huntsville, Alabama and Fargo, North Dakota. We decided at the start of this season we would concentrate on group placements, not breed points. Overall, this was a success. In these last few weeks of the season, Odebt will take her to Texas and Mississippi to attempt to glean just a couple of placements to round out the year. The wins and the loses are about the judges’ sometimes capricious picks, not about the quality of the competition or our dog. No matter what happens, we will not be disappointed. She has competed honestly and made people notice her, and so notice us. This is good. When Eva is bred in the Spring we hope some of the people Odebt talked to and handed our cards to will consider us for a puppy.
But, this time of year also brings Thanksgiving. Not just the glutonous holiday, but a real time for giving thanks. Although I’m not a maudlin person, I can’t be blinded to what I have that is good. Better than good, really. As my mom and I prepare to host my brother and his family for the traditional Thanksgiving dinner, we box up piles of show catalogs and ribbons. We are casually putting away more awards than some people win in a lifetime. Many people also win more, but some work just as hard as we do and get far less to show for their effort. Just the fact that we can scrape together the money to keep a dog on the road for a season is more than many people can do. There are many outstanding dogs that nobody sees because thier owners lack the funds to get them out more than a few times a year. How our breed’s gene pool would be enriched if these fine animals were showcased.
A trip to the storage unit to retrieve some wayward dining room chairs brings us face to face with over forty years of showing and breeding history. The history of Casey Kerry Blue Terriers is written on the sides of old cardboard boxes in the unit. A box or two or three for each dog: Casey, Blue, Erin, Merry Kerry, Mara, Mickey, Sunshine, Honour and Eva. Boxes and boxes full of breeding records, pedigrees, magazine articles and win photos are neatly stacked inside the metal room. We always pay a brief homage to the long ago dogs who started our line on its way. We cannot help but be thankful for all the success we have had. If we never campaigned another dog, or won another ribbon at a show, we would still have done enough to be known in our breed.
The wealth in my life comes from my mother. She and my father built our line in an age with no internet and instant show results. Our family vacations were spent laying the ground work for our future line. We visited breeders in the US and Canada and attended shows making contacts and looking at the dogs. Learning type and pedigrees. When they chose to breed their first litter this paid off. I have no important part in the success of our line. I am grateful to be a custodian of it and an apprentice to my mother. She is so steady, so focused and possesses an innate sense of what will work and what won’t. Besides the dogs, having an opportunity to know my mother as a person, not just a mom, is priceless.
Now we are coming into Winter. The cold and early darkness are such a contrast to the brightness of Summer. Inside our house it is warm and we have plenty to eat. There are no worries that our dogs or ourselves will survive the Winter, no matter how cold it becomes. We have working vehicles and I have a job to go to six days a week. These are no small things for many.
Our seven puppies, born in April, all have the best homes. We value and are grateful for all the families who chose to take one of our pups into their lives. They are all such good people, we never worry about any one of the puppies. The fact that these puppies found their new homes quickly was a blessing. Their people could make them their own before their little personalities were set. Every one of them has had a training class and their ears set. But most of all we are thankful for the love of their families. Not every puppy is so lucky. Our Elvis lies sleeping on the floor between us. He started life just as these puppies did. He was sold to a family with kids and seemed to fit right in. Then when he was six years old he was no longer wanted in his home. A victim of divorce and inconvenience. He came home to us and was placed with a great man, Jerry, who loved him for three years, more than his own life. A fact that was proven when Jerry died in a fire saving Elvis. We are grateful we could reclaim him and he will live out his life with us, it’s what we owe him for being the survivor he is.
Finally, on this Thanksgiving, we are grateful to be looking forward to seeing our extended doggy family in the coming year. We excitedly wait for the new show season to begin and look forward to travelling and seeing old friends and new dogs.
We wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving!