Meet Me In St. Louis, Bring Cats

Not satisfied to wait quietly in our home for the Denver shows, we entered the St. Charles Kennel Club shows in Missouri. They offered reserved grooming, were indoors and had a judging panel that didn’t make us cringe. Besides, we are showing a new dog that most judges haven’t seen. We usually enter to everybody once with a new dog, unless we know that they won’t like our type or we don’t like their type of judge.

We anticipated some weather on the drive down to St. Louis. The mileage to the show was about 860 miles straight out I-70. The drive to St. Louis, and the drive to Dallas, are the farthest we will drive in one day. We had some icy roads in our own state but the rest of the drive was fine. In fact, everything was fine until we stepped out of the car to excercise the dogs. The windchill was unbearable! As you race along in your climate controlled van the world looks bright and warm. Reality is something different. In fact the farther east we went the colder it became. By the time we got to the show site it was only in the teens with a stiff wind. We had heard this was a packed dirt arena with space available to set up in the stalls in the barns. We bought a stall for the weekend and brought a lock and heater. With each wintery blast I remembered why we prefer our dog shows indoors on concrete.

Our stall heated up to 63 degrees with the heater running on high all day. If you kept moving you didn’t feel so cold. Then there were our little visitors. On Friday, we wandered over to the show site to set up. We worked on Danny then ate our dinner of cup-of-soup in our stall. The 1080 mgs of sodium really hit the spot. I see why cattle enjoy the salt lick so much. We added processed cheese food on crackers and some Oreos for dessert. We were too tired to put away the few crackers we had left so I left them wrapped up in paper and left them on one of the grooming tables. We are from the city. This was the problem. When we came in the next morning, the stall was nearly as we had left it, with the exception of the crackers on the floor and the mouse poops on the table pad and other surfaces. Our neighbors told us they had seen mice running all over our stall in the evening and early morning. The rest of the weekend we saw them in our stall and in empty stalls. These weren’t the tiny, furry things that sometimes get into our dog room at home. These were country mice. Large and robust and adept at finding food in any environment. With all the things we’d brought we couldn’t find one cat! I’d heard there were usually barn cats around, but they must have gone on vacation during the dog show. Of course our terriers never saw any of the vermin, and so were useless.

When you put aside all the weather and wildlife issues, this show was worth going to. There were three dogs in our breed and really any one could have won. The bitch special was a beautiful, blue color and had descent movement. The class dog was her puppy and already starting to show good color and you could tell he was a nice boy with a great temperament. Our dog was the other special. There has been some animosity in our breed, but this weekend we were all just dog people. We spent most of our time talking with one of the owners of the dogs entered. He is proud of what he’s bred and knowledgeable about the breed. He is an interesting guy you could spend a lot of time listening to. A long time Kerry friend of ours, from St. Louis, came to the shows also for one day. We met with her and caught up on all the news we each had.

The show the first day was not a good one for us. I was unable to control Danny in the ring. He is usually a little bit fired up, but on this day he acted like he’d never been in the ring. Maybe it was the cold weather, the dark, mouse infested stall or my general lack of skill, but he acted a fool! He was endlessly fascinated at the other Kerries and would not be dissuaded from challenging them. Neither one was the least bit interested in his antics and the judge looked tired, too. The second day was better for both of us. This young dog and I have a long ways to go before we are really competitive.

When we first arrived at the show there were not many people in the arena so I walked Danny over there so he could see what was what and sniff everything ahead of time. As I was standing there looking around, a man approached me and introduced himself. I stared in disbelief. His name was familiar and he knew Kerries. He and his wife had come to see the Doberman specialty with an eye for researching the breed. They live on a farm and want a more wash and wear dog than they’d previously owned. He began his story by saying they had owned a Cabachon bitch. Her name was familiar also. I’m not too bad with pedigrees and I could vaguely remember some dogs in her line. Then they mentioned their kennel name, Mythrin, and I knew them. I am probably not the only person in our breed who wondered about the people behind this kennel name. They produced some nice dogs, did some impressive winning, and were good custodians of the breed. Then the incident happened that caused us all to know them, or think we knew them. And they disappeared. We spent a lot of time with this couple on the weekend, talking dogs and old times. We all knew the same people, had been at the same shows, but our paths never crossed before this weekend. We learned they have a love of our breed still, and they are good dog people. They are deservedly proud of what their line was and to my mind still would be an asset to anybody new to the breed. They are warm, caring and easy to be around. It is a shame they are out of it. If they ever want back into the breed we would be honored to send them a puppy.

I wonder if we were destined to meet these people, at this time, by some cosmic force. It seems more than a coincidence that we would be in the very place they were at the time we are anticipating breeding the very dogs we had with us. A strange foreshadowing. I hope not a harbinger.

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