We decided to enter the Seward County Kennel Club shows only about the week before they closed. We didn’t buy reserved grooming figuring we could find a place to set up once we got there. At the last-minute I emailed the grooming chairperson and asked if there were any spaces left. To my surprise she said there were! I quickly bought two and immediately felt that luck was on our side.
When the entries closed we noted that we had the only special and there was only one class dog. We were nearly certain it belonged to a handler out of Kansas City. That dog is a half-brother, older by two months, to our dog. He is not yet finished but, because of the family connection and their shared fathers, we were anxious to see him. We also thought there might be the possibility that the class dog might pull since there would be no points. Funny how people give up so easily. We have all lost to worthy class dogs and had to see that dog’s picture in a magazine ad raving about going best of breed over specials.
A quick search of the local motels yielded a motel that had great recent reviews and wasn’t too expensive. We ignored our usual rules about staying in chain motels this one time and booked a room for the three days we’d be in Seward. We didn’t much care that the motel was 34 miles away from the show sight. Perhaps this was over shadowed by the address for the motel of 2426 Lincoln. The numeric part of the address is the phone number for our friend who owns Tucker, our co-owned male who looks a lot like Danny. Surely a good omen.
The judges we were slated to have were a new Kerry Blue judge, for the breed on the first day and an older man for the group. The second day we would be judged by a woman who is pleasant and likes pretty for both the breed and the group. Danny is new so we show to everybody unless we find out something that causes us to shy away. After all, Seward, Nebraska, was a smallish show and we were confident we’d be competitive in the group. How many nice dogs could there be in this show? Usually the entry is made up of lots of locals and some of the Denver people who think, like we do, that a seven hour drive is close. People who don’t have anything else to do on a weekend in early May.
The van practically loaded itself. We pulled out of our driveway at 7:30 am on Friday morning, and managed to get to the motel on one tank of gas at about 3:00 pm. Just as those who had stayed at the Palmer Inn before us had written, the motel was clean, quiet and if there wasn’t so much furniture in the room it would have been big enough to groom the dog. There were some BNSF work trucks and equipment parked in the field opposite one side of the motel, but no creepy construction people staying there. Our room was on the back side of the motel and there were two big fields of grass for the dogs to run in. So far our luck was holding. So many good omens already! Grooming space, great motel, easy drive, only one dog with us and really wonderful weather.
We piled back into the van and drove the 34 miles to the Seward County Fairgrounds. After circling the show building twice we spotted the road that lead off into the distance toward another building. It was brand new and looked like one of those fairgrounds buildings that is usually off-limits to dogs. We held our breath as we pulled up right in front of the place and saw the notices taped to the doors. Closer inspection revealed this was the building where our spaces were and even better, our rings! We dragged our bins, crate, tables and giant tack box inside and set up. I had to keep wondering if this was a dream. Everything was just too perfect. The building was quiet, air-conditioned and our set up was directly across from the ring gate of the ring we were to show in. We were close to a concession stand manned by local people with everything homemade and bathrooms down the hall that were nicer than most people’s homes. This show just kept getting better!
The next morning all the good omens and events of the previous day still seemed to be in place. We bought a catalog and perused the terriers entered. We immediately realized this was one of those shows where everybody with a nice dog showed up thinking they could get a group placement. Many of the nice dogs from our area were there along with some of the ones from Wichita. Placing wasn’t going to be a sure thing. There were easily eight of the dogs entered that regularly earned a placement. But we believe in our dog and his quality. The judges could do worse than to pick him.
The dog we are showing is one that is easy to groom. His coat is workable and he is good enough on the table to make getting him ready less taxing. On a trip outside with Danny I had run into the handler of the class dog. It was who we had suspected and he confirmed the dog was not there or even with him. He said it looked nothing like our dog and he wished us luck. Danny and I entered the ring right on time at 10:30 am. Thanks to some tips I’d received at the show in Wichita a few weeks before, he moved out well and I was able to control him. The breed judge was very interested in Kerry Blues and asked me some insightful questions. I pointed out Danny’s strengths and his faults and wished she was doing the group. She asked me if I thought I had a chance in the group. With this one question, the creeping doubt cast the first shadow on the weekend. It would depend on our group judge.
The groups were early, about 1:00, and we were the sixth in line. We wandered over to the show building to see who was there and how our judge for the group ran his ring. He looked completely disinterested. This was not a good omen. To enjoy judging terriers you must like the energy and dynamic presence of the dogs. This man was definitely not a terrier person. This kind of judge is never good for our breed. The back of the line does better under judges like this. But, we never give up. We also noticed more than the usual complement of handlers found at a two-day show in the Midwest. Usually these people are at a cluster somewhere. Why had they come?
While walking the perimeter of the main building, we ran into some of the Denver people. One has a nice Border Terrier who has done a lot of winning. She had won the breed and was waiting for the group. Down the row from her was a woman attempting to groom a Bedlington. She has become something of a local phenom since winning the Sporting group at Westminster this year with a Brittney. Her Bedlington had been the only one showing that day. She is new to the breed and considers herself to be a threat. Her dog is from a breeder in Wisconsin, but from where we stood the best thing about it was the handler. We talked to her, offering some grooming tips, and asked if she knew anything about the terrier group judge. She smirked and told us that when they pulled into the show and saw the rig belonging to another handler out of Illinois, they nearly drove on. apparently, our group judge thinks the sun rises and sets on this woman and will pick her for Best of Breed, or a group placement, even if she had a cat on the lead.
How do you fight this kind of thing? You don’t. You just go into the group and show your best and work your dog and make a good showing. We watched the groups before ours and as predicted, the handler from Illinois won with everything she brought to the judge. In our group, Danny and I led the parade. He was on and I had a lot of fun. As soon as the judge touched him I knew we weren’t getting a placement. As predicted the enchanting woman won a nice terrier group with a mini bull with a tail straight up off its back. She had three of the seven dogs in the best in show line up, too. All won under the same judge we had for the group. The rest of the placers came from the back of the line. Not so coincidentally, she also won the show.
We returned to our motel realizing that politics are ever present at shows everywhere. Still, to compete and be seen in the group with as many worthy terriers as were at this show is never a bad thing. We vowed to put this day behind us and come back strong the next.