Colorado doesn’t have the winter weather of Minnesota, Wisconsin or most of the upper Midwest, but we get our share. More than our share, really. At least this year. This is the storm those of us who live here and show dogs refer to as the Wichita storm. Most years, in our recorded dog show history, there is a huge storm either a few days before the shows or a few days after. We have had to pay $140.00 for a room in a Super 8 along I-70 in Kansas and had to stop dead on the interstate while they plow open the ramps so we could all get off. A van full of dogs, and not nearly enough people to attend to them in the storm, makes for much cursing and dark thoughts of why we find ourselves in this situation year after year. But, here in Colorado, when the sun comes out, the snow melts as do our memories of the cold and inconvenience. And that’s why those of us who live here tolerate these storms and keep driving on to shows outside our state.
We have local shows here in early April. They are the Terry-All Kennel Club shows. It has become an excellent place where nice, and not so nice, local dogs can come and show without the competition of better dogs and bigger name handlers. The shows are close to Denver so getting there is no difficulty and every now and then you can surprise yourself with a high point value win in the group. With the AKC concerned about retention of exhibitors the fancy needs shows like this. With the Wichita shows sharing this weekend, and offering three days of indoor accommodations, it’s always a tough decision whether to make the eight-hour drive to Valley Center, Kansas, fighting the miserable Midwestern spring weather, or stay home and fight the icy, driving wind that whips the Adams County fairgrounds where Terry-All is held . In Wichita we groom inside in reserved spaces with clean floors and plenty of light. At our hometown event, we groom outside by our cars or huddle in cold, dark stalls trying to achieve trimming perfection by braille. Since we have an untested dog the quality of the judges is somewhat farther down on our priority list. We are not hopeful of winning, but still we are not there to lose, no matter what the competition. We are pleased that Danny continues to improve and is ever inching forward toward the show dog he will become. I am enjoying the show season so far. The lack of pressure is refreshing and as we await the opportunity to breed our bitch, Eva, we are actually excited and not regretting that this act will take us off the road for several months.
The decision about which of these shows to enter is based on the enjoyability factor. The almost intolerable conditions, both in and out of the ring building, and the feeling you just can’t shake that somebody handpicked the judges for themselves, combine to make Terry-All less attractive. It takes longer to get to the Wichita shows, but the conditions are much better, and it will be a chance to face a whole different group of dogs. We will also be able to see Peyton at work. He has been gone since our February shows and is starting to make his way as a show dog. Word came today from the Ft. Worth shows that he had won a Best of Breed in competition. This is the third time he has had a win in competition, as a special, since he finished in 2008. We are hopeful he can do some winning and encouraged he seems to be enjoying his time on the road. Peyton has a lot to overcome to be the kind of Bedlington who will catch the judge’s eye. We will give him the time as long as he is making progress. He will tell us when he wants to come home.
Our neighborhood fox family has returned. Not the original family, but the same female with a new litter. We have yet to see the kits with her this year, but we will. The birds are starting to build nests and they pick up the straw in our yard and carry it off. Even in the snows we have had they are busy. One of the houses behind us has holes in its siding made by flickers nesting. The homeowners don’t seem to notice and the birds return every year. The males attract mates by hammering their hard beaks on our metal vent stacks. The noise they make sounds like a distant air compressor running.
Soon, new life will be all around us. And still we wait for Eva to come into season. For over two years, five seasons by the time we gave up, we tried to breed Honour. Now we are nervous and not entirely confident we can have a litter in our house. Even if we are successful, will there be a puppy in the litter for us? Our lease litter, of last year, produced pretty puppies that are happy in their homes with loving, kind families, but there was not one for us. It may be true that I will not be able to recognize a puppy of the type and quality we are seeking. My mom will make the pick. Her eye has guided our line for over forty years. It was she, and Danny’s breeder, who could see the gawky puppy chewing our shoe laces would grow to be a dog of style and presence. I was not so sure.
Spring is also the time, in our area, for starting young dogs in the ring. We are watching two friends do just that. They are both showing young males, just days apart in age, at the Texas Kerry Blue Terrier Club specialty weekend in Ft. Worth. Each youngster has a major and they are easily the ones to beat on this weekend. One dog is American bred and the other from our breed’s country of origin. They are different in type, but each has his strong points and their owner/handlers are serious about their craft. This is the essence of our sport. Two people battling every weekend in honest, fair, competition, bringing out the best in each other and their young boys. Last year we were at these same shows, having fun starting our young boy on his way. We had planned on returning this year to see old friends and dogs from last year, but work intervened. Our plans are loose this show season as we are hopeful we will be breeding any time. Summer is such a grand time for puppies. And late summer is so good for going to new homes.
Watching the storm building outside, I am reminded how much puppies are like Spring. Stormy one day and sunny the next. Cloudy days giving way to azure blue skies and lazy afternoons that fill the dog days. By Fall, the leaves on the trees will be sun-baked and in full color. The Spring puppies will be house trained and sitting on command. They will know how to walk on their leashes and charm their owners out of treats. All too soon, Winter will come and then another Spring. This year’s puppies will be next year’s champions and once again, we will be anticipating another drive through a Spring storm.