Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Missed Opportunities

  We entered Gibson and Gemma in the "Turkey Cluster" this past week-end, so hoping that Gibson would finally have his championship. We employed a bit of strategy to achieve this goal.  I'll explain for those that don't follow dog shows that closely.  Points are earned based on the number of dogs entered.  Sometimes, there will be more points for one sex than the other.  In that case, exhibitors always hope the judge will "split" the points, meaning the Best of Winners earns the higher number of points.  In Gibson's case, we were hoping he would be Winners Dog and Best of Winners for two majors as the number of females entered were the right number.
  On Friday, Gibson was very relaxed outside the ring and gaited the best he's ever done for me.  Unfortunately, he still doesn't like the judge's exam.  The judge told me she couldn't give me Winners since he backed away.  The judge did split the points but since Gibson was Reserve Winners Dog, it was an opportunity lost.
  On Saturday, Gibson was better.  He was comfortable outside the ring again, moved well again and did better for the exam.  He was Winners Dog!  He had difficulty in Best of Variety competition though.  There was some poop in the ring that for some reason unnerved him and the Winners Bitch was in season which also unsettled him.  That's hard for any dog but especially so for Gibson, who has already worked out so many issues.  Saturday's judge did not split the points--Gibson missed another opportunity for a major.
  On Sunday, Gibson showed the best he's ever had for me.  He was Winners Dog and Best of Winners, unfortunately, there wasn't a major in bitches.
  The week-end left me a bit disheartened.  Gibson has tried so hard and I've worked so much with him.  I'm not sure if I should continue this quest with him or not.  I think he enjoys showing but I'm stymied as to how to have him achieve his potential.  It's truly been two steps forward and one step back.
  The week-end wasn't a total bust though.  Gemma, who had been entered for the experience and to help make majors, surprised me.  She was Winners Bitch on Sunday for her very first point!  When I saw the judge look her way as we were lined up, I wondered if she was being considered.  Then, the judge took a bit longer on examing her head. I made sure Gemma was  moving well on the final go around and was thrilled when the judge pointed to us!
  Both Gibson and Gemma were rewarded with special treats for their week-end of work.  We rewarded ourselves with cheese, crackers and a bottle of wine from our local winery, Casanel, after we got home!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Baby Fever

  We were blessed with our first grandchild on Aug 6.  Our daughter-in-law had a great career opportunity to change jobs but it meant starting back to work before she had planned.  Taylor is going to start day care in January but who was going to care for her in the meantime?  Grandma was asked and I leapt at the opportunity to spend time with the beautiful girl!
  Generally, after a day with Taylor, I feed the dogs as soon as I get home.  The dogs are very excited to see me as I'm not spending as much time with them.  But, dinner always has priority and once their bowls are in their kennels, eating is the focus.  Dixie, however, is the exception.  I always hold Taylor in my left arm and when I enter Dixie's kennel, she immediately starts to sniff my arm.  Even when I'm wearing a coat she will check out my arm then sniff around my neck as I bend down to give her her bowl.  Baby Magic and diaper cream is not my normal "scent" but Dixie seems fascinated with these smells!  Last fall, after the puppies' debut to the yard, she was equally fascinated with them, becoming quite maternal.  I think she's looking forward to spring and having babies of her own!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Healing Waters?

  I have blogged before about our senior dogs, Ben and Sophie.  They are now 12 1/2 and we know that every day we have with them is a gift.  They have good days and bad days and Ben, especially, has started with longer cycles of bad days.  We watch them carefully for signs that it is time to say good-bye, but are always relieved when that decision can be put off for at least one more day.
  Ben and Sophie spend quite a bit of time sleeping, have difficulty getting up, their balance can be unsteady, their appetite inconsitent and Sophie is unable to spend a long night inside without an accident. A few weeks ago, their difficulties were very apparent and severe.  With a heavy heart, I thought it was time to take Ben to the vet, with Sophie to follow very soon after. 
  When that last day comes, I always give the dog a bath and a good grooming if possible.  It gives me quality time with the dog, a chance to say good bye privately and lets them cross over with the dignity they deserve.  After deciding that it was time to make arrangements for Ben in the upcoming week, I spent the week-end trimming nails, brushing and then bathing Ben and Sophie.  They can't tolerate long times on the grooming table, so over the course of the two days, many short sessions were needed to finish the brushing.  By dinner on Sunday, they looked like the show dogs they used to be!  They had a spring to their step and a sparkle in their eye.  I felt good, knowing they were comfortable and we had had good, final days.
  Monday was a surprise!  Ben and Sophie greeted me at the door of their room in the morning, eager for breakfast.  Ben finished his and was looking for more!  The walk to the kennel was energetic and they were interested in visiting the other dogs.  I began to think I could wait another week before calling the vet.  In the days that followed, it was if time was reversing itself.  Both dogs ate their meals every day, greeted us enthusiastically, even started playing!  When I would let the rest of the dogs out in the play yards, they would trot over to the fence and watch the activity.  Sometimes, they would bark with the rest of the dogs as the deer would come out of the woods and cross the property. 
  I'm not sure why Ben and Sophie are suddenly doing so well, but I'm certainly not complaining!  Could the baths have had healing properties?  If so, I wish it would work as well for my own aches and pains!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Great Hike

 Three other members of the Northern Virginia Collie Club and I went for a hike on Veterans Day at Balls Bluff Battlefield Regional Park.  It was a chilly day, but once we started on the wooded path, the trees blocked the wind, making it much more pleasant.
  Balls Bluff is the site of a Civil War battlefield and our country's smallest national cemetery.  Each of the graves had an American flag on it from a daybreak ceremony honoring veterans.  Perhaps the dogs sensed the importance of the day, too.  They behaved nicely as we stopped to pay our respects.
  I should probably put that another way.  Because Chloe is always good and while Frazier has all the energy of his not quite six months, he listens to his owner.  It was Treasure who stopped pulling on her lead long enough for me to pause at the cemetery.
  When we planned the hike, I couldn't decide which dog to take along.  Whenever I do an activity, I try to choose a dog that has not had a big block of solitary time with me.  I thought the older dogs would have found the hilly, wooded paths a bit stressful on their joints so they weren't considered for this trip.  Gemma and Gibson have shows in a couple of weeks, Jackson had just had a morning out with me, which left me the choice of Bijou, Ref or Treasure.  I don't know why I chose Treasure, but she was the lucky one.
  As soon as I opened her kennel door, she bolted out the door and started running around the building.  I let her make a couple of rounds, to burn off some energy, but when I called her to me, it seemed to make her go faster!  She'd race around, only stopping at Ref's or Gemma and Bijou's kennels to bark at them.  When she saw me coming, she'd twist around and race in the opposite direction.  I'm not sure how long she spent running, but I was ready to leave her behind and take another dog!  Treasure either ran out of energy or recognized by the tone of my voice that I had had enough of her antics.  She stopped abruptly and let me put the leash and collar on her.
  On the hike, Treasure pulled constantly on the leash.  My upper arm and shoulder were quite sore that night!  I've not experienced such a headstrong determination in Treasure before.  It was one of the few times that she's interacted with dogs from outside our kennel.  Plus, the woods had lots of great scents that needed to be explored.  We saw a young buck run through the woods, which made all the dogs want to give chase!
  I don't have pictures to share as the battery on my phone suddenly started to go.  I didn't want to take a chance on using up the battery on pictures, then needing my phone later.  It was a very pretty day, though.  Most of the leaves were off the trees but still had color.  The path was very colorful with all the reds and yellows!