Bearded Collies

Dispatches from the Frickin’ Serengeti

Bearded Collie Club of Maine Regional Specialty/Supported Entry
(Ladies’ Dog Club shows)
June 1 & 2, 2013
Sweeps: 1st in 6-9. Regular Classes: 2nd  in 6-9 (Sat.) and 1st in 6-9 (Sun.)

Rowan's breeder, Laura, showed her in her 6-9 debut.

Rowan’s breeder, Laura, showed her in her 6-9 debut.

Seriously, the weather gods need to cut the good people in the Ladies’ Dog Club a break. Last year, their show took place in the midst of a monsoon. This year, the temperatures reached well into the 90s — which we haven’t seen in a regional weather forecast before or since. With the help of bazillions of bags of ice, fans, cool beds, big honkin’ tents with lots of shade, and Gatorade, we persevered…

Rowan’s breeder offered to show her in her 6-9 debut. The baby acquitted herself pretty well, for all that she was just 6 months and 4 days old on the day of the Regional. She behaved, mostly moved in one direction at a given time, and heartily enjoyed the fleece toy she won in her Sweeps class. (She also brought home a check for nine whole dollars. Now, when people ask me if we’ve ever made money at dog showing…) Her classmates in handling class and their owners would scarcely believe that the beautiful, reasonably well-behaved young lady at the shows was in any way related to the red-haired hooligan who appears in class every Thursday and navigates the ring without once touching the ground.

The kid cleans up good!

The kid cleans up good!

My friend Linda had her Havanese at the show: her newly-minted champion dog and her class bitch, and she needed an extra pair of hands in the Best of Breed ring when the girlie went WB. I ended up graduating from Havanese holder to Havanese handler. All credit is due to the dog for going BOS and BOW; I just did my part by staying upright on the other end of the lead.

Much later on, a bunch of us gathered in one room at the hotel and ordered take-out from a local Italian place. The food arrived, but without napkins, utensils, or anything else we might have used with the meal. The person who placed the order called the restaurant asking about the utensils (under the assumption that since the restaurant made plenty of deliveries to the hotel, they might bring some on the next trip). The person on the other end shouted, “BITCH!” and hung up the phone. Two hours later, a knock came on the door. It was the restaurant’s delivery guy, bearing a bag with three plastic forks inside. (There were five of us.) Can’t win ’em all, I guess. If you’re ever staying in Foxboro, call the Chinese take-out place instead. The food is great, the portions generous, and they can keep an order straight.

Regional Specialties are part dog show, part family reunion. The best part of such a show is seeing all the dogs’ family members together — puppies and their parents, littermates and half-siblings, little ones growing up, adolescents changing color, and the wonderful veterans. (I wanted to put Dinah in Veterans for the very first time, but she wasn’t in condition. Her boyfriend Traveler was there, though. His daughter Bonnie took the 5-point bitch major on Sunday. Traveler’s son Brae, who is Bonnie’s full brother from a different litter, went BOS both days.)

Thanks to everyone who came, showed, sweated, hugged their hotel-room air conditioners, and braved the local food delivery to come play with us. Particular thanks go to the kind folks who manned the club tent, the lunch buffet, and the raffle.

Now that this year’s shows are done, could we put in a requisition for partly-sunny, 65-degree weather for next year’s shows?

And… We’re Off!

York County KC of Maine (Southern Maine Coastal Classic Cluster)
May 19, 2013
Best of Breed, Beginner Puppy

rowan-gaiting-cropped

Little Rowan made her debut in the Beginner Puppy (4-Under 6 Months) ring last weekend at the local show cluster. This is my local club’s show weekend, and I was too crazy busy playing chief steward to be able to show her myself. Val offered to take her around the ring for me. (Rowan loves Auntie Val. She remembers that we’re all road-trip buddies.)

Rowan was the only Bearded Collie there, so all she really needed to do was show up and not go for anybody’s jugular — but we can now truthfully state that she went BOB her first time in the ring. She might have fared better than 5th in the Herding Group had she decided to go in one direction instead of heading toward all of the 16 compass points while gaiting… but it was her first show. We can cut her a break, and keep working in handling class. The judge got a kick out of her, Val got a kick out of her, and her buddies Storme the GSD and Darla the OES went on to get group placements (4th and 2nd), respectively. Rowan even brought her own cheering section!

Rowan even had her own cheering section!

Because Rowan will be all of 6 months and 4 days at her second dog show, this was her first and last appearance in Beginner Puppy at a show. She makes her “for reals” debut in the 6-9 Month class at Ladies’ next weekend.

A Quick PSA

Penny Cary’s Petiquette website is down, but she is about to start a new session of handling classes in Saco. Come be classmates with about half of the York County Kennel Club! Contact Penny for more information.

2012 AKC Points Schedule and Division Changes

If you’re showing a class dog, the appearance of the annual AKC Points Schedule is as much a sign of springtime as the crocuses and peepers. Each May, the Points Schedule dictates how many dogs and bitches are needed to make a major in every breed in different regions of the country.

For example, we here in Maine are in Division 1. Starting in mid-May (and just in time for our regional Bearded Collie club’s supported entries the following weekend), it will take 4 class dogs and 5 class bitches to form a 3-point major. Last year, we needed the same number of dogs, but 6 bitches were required for those elusive majors.

This is a big deal for those of us with breeds uncommon enough that often it’s an event to see another dog of your breed at a show in Maine. When Dinah was a puppy in the classes, the only other Beardie we ever saw at most Maine shows was Traveler. We couldn’t do anything for each other points-wise, but at least we were able to get in a lot of handling practice. Show entries were cheaper than handling classes back in those days.

A friend of mine is a judge who can judge the Miscellaneous class. I asked her, “So just how many Miscellaneous breeds do you ever get to judge at a given show?” She replied, “Oh, maybe 3 to 6, unless I’m judging at a place where there’s a big concentration of a breed.” It must be difficult when your breed is so rare that you have to bring all your own competition.

On the other hand, it’s no picnic for the owners of very popular breeds. The 2012 point schedule for Labs calls for 17 dogs and 19 bitches to make up 3 points. If only 16 class dogs show up, you’re just as sunk as we Beardie people would be with 3 class dogs. That can’t be easy to take.

But There’s More News!

AKC is realigning the divisions to try and smooth out some imbalances in breed populations in some regions. For example, New York state has long been part of Division 1, but they have way more Beardies there than we do in Maine. This has meant that we’ve had to follow the New York point schedule for our own shows, despite the fact that we hardly have enough Beardies showing in the state to make an entry, let alone a major. For this coming year, New York has been moved to Division 2 to keep company with the more Beardie-populous states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. This helps us here in New England field a more realistic number of dogs for our region. If you have to leave the region to hunt for majors, New York is a heckuva lot closer than Delaware.

Best in Show Daily has an excellent graphic with before-and-after maps so you can see just how the divisions shake out.

This also means that our out-of-state friends can easily help us build majors in New England. If you were thinking of joining us at the Supported Entries in May or at our Regional in June, please keep this in mind!

Specialty Hangover Edition

There’s a reason why people save up most or all of their vacation time for the National Specialty. Sure, it’s basically just another dog show — but what a dog show! How often do you get to see hundreds of dogs of your breed in one place, ranging from puppies to seniors, in all colors and coat lengths, from champions to rescued companions? You get to catch up with old friends, see grown-up dogs you met when they were just puppies, check out a future parent of your next puppy, see the big guns and brass hats up close, meet all your buds from Facebook, and get your hands on some very, very nice specimens of your beloved breed.

I try to get to the BCCA National most years, even if I don’t bring a dog to show. It’s just so great to reconnect with my friends, meet all the dogs, and enjoy what the show locale has to offer. Some friends of mine and I have a long-standing tradition (started at the 1997 Beardie National) of picking a gourmet restaurant in the area and spending one evening at a nice, civilized, off-campus dinner. Amid the excitement and near-constant activity at the show, this one dinner is an island of peace and conviviality over great food and fine wine. I still regret missing the 2010 National, but I’d just started a new job two weeks before the show and was still up to my eyebrows in mandatory new-hire training.

This year, my local regional club played host to the National. Hosting the show is actually a multi-year effort — we’ve been at it since our bid was accepted at the 2009 National. Here’s where we held it…

That’s The Colony Hotel in Kennebunkport, a lovely old resort hotel with a tradition of dog-friendliness. The staff couldn’t have been nicer or easier to work with! They seemed as pleased as we were to see Beardies everywhere, from the private beach to the veranda overlooking the pool. Once the rain stopped, people and Beardies appeared all over the place, enjoying the view and the amenities.

The rain damn near killed us. It rained on the herding trials. It rained on the drive to and from the herding instinct tests, though the skies managed to hold off just long enough to do the tests themselves. Badger Blue Burfitt earned his instinct certificate, which makes him Breaksea Revolution, HIC.

(This photo actually comes from last year’s English Shepherd Gathering. I don’t know if there are any candids from this year’s HICs.)

It rained on the obedience and rally trials. Dinah was having none of that sitting-in-the-puddles crap, so we blew our Beginner Novice debut rather badly. I ended up pulling her from Rally Excellent. She can do both in her sleep, but not on that day.

I was too busy toting barges, lifting bales, buying supplies, and so on to see as much of the Specialty as I would have liked. I missed the Welcome Party, all of the meals I’d bought tickets for, and a good part of the showing. At least working at the fundraising/logowear booth gave me a good view of the judging when I wasn’t running around.

Dinah got a big honkin’ rosette with all her titles on it for the Parade of Titleholders… but alas, she (and I) didn’t get back to the ring in time to take part. It was the only time all week that she got any love of any kind while in the ring… but she looked lovely during Friday’s best-of-breed judging. Kathy said that her head wasn’t in the game, though — maybe it was a holdover from Tuesday’s puddle-based trauma in that same ring.

All the rain and rushing about aside, though, it was a good week — and I’m both sad and relieved that it’s over. I hope to go dogless to next year’s National, hang out, see my friends, and see more of the actual show than I did this year. The National doesn’t rotate back to the East until 2014, when it will take place in Gettysburg, PA. Dinah could show in Veterans by then (she’ll be 8) — and we’re already psyched for it!

Heartfelt thanks to everyone who played a part in the success of the 2011 Beardie National — to the committee chairs, the conscripted help, the exhibitors, the event secretaries and judges, the shoppers at the logowear and fundraising tables, and anyone who volunteered to help out with anything. It takes a very large village to put on a Specialty, and we’re all grateful.

Springtime Rituals

I’ve always envied my friends in California. The weather generally stays nice enough there so they can go to shows and trials all year round. Here, entering any event in the winter is always conditional. You enter a dog event with full knowledge that if the weather that weekend is sufficiently bad, you’ll end up eating the entry. That, along with hibernating from Thanksgiving until St. Paddy’s Day or so, marks the “off season” for dog showing here in the Frickin’ Arctic.

Since today is the Vernal Equinox, it’s time to start thinking about the year ahead. It’s time to dust off the equipment, take inventory of what needs repair/replacement/cleaning, invest in some fresh batteries, and organize it all so that an event’s worth of necessities can be tossed into the car without too much scrambling. It’s time to start reading the premium lists for the springtime events and to think about what to enter when.

Another way I mark the start of the dog-event year is to clear off the bulletin board in the sunroom. Back when I was still actively trialing with Seamus, I’d hang the ribbons and rosettes he’d earned from it in a given year onto the board. At the beginning of the next season, I’d remove them, pack them away, and hang the new year’s booty. This has now become an unofficial ritual to mark the new dog-show season. (So what can you do with all the old ones? I had Dinah’s BPISS rosette from the ’06 BCCC National framed. There are also quite a few people who will take your collected ribbons and stitch them into a quilt, wall hanging, chair back, or what-have-you. This site shows a bunch of photos of finished examples. Maybe someday I’ll do something similar with mine, but storing all the ribbons in Rubbermaid boxes in the downstairs closet is still much easier than trying to figure out where to hang a quilt.)

2010 was relatively slim for us in terms of spoils — we only entered three conformation shows, five AKC rally trials, one UKC rally trial, and a bunch of APDT rally trials — but we did bring home enough bling to cover the bulletin board. Each one marks some pretty nice memories: the weekend we finished Dinah’s Canadian CH, BOS for the second year in a row at our Regional Specialty, her AKC RN and RA and APDT RL1 titles, Badger’s 4th in Veterans at the BCCC National… Still, they make a pretty nice collage…

Now that the bulletin board is bare again, it’s time to start thinking about the year ahead… and train, train, train! Dinah’s litter sister Buffy is now competing in APDT Rally in the UK and is on the verge of earning her RL1 title, too.

As Seen in Dog Fancy

A few weeks ago, a very nice person named Nicole contacted me through the blog. It seems she was writing a small article about the AKC Grand Champion title and was looking for thoughts from the fancy about the new title and its appeal. The article will appear in the July issue of Dog Fancy, in case you’re interested.

Public Service Announcement

The next session of Penny Cary’s conformation handling classes starts in April at Finish Forward Dogs in Saco. Class spots are filling up fast, so contact Finish Forward soon if you want to get in on the fun.

Memory Lane

Talkin’ ’bout