Monday, October 09, 2006

Jake and Crunch’s Big Day

Yesterday I got up waaaay before the crack of dawn (4:00 am to be exact), drove a little over two hours with half of it in the dark, to spend the whole day at a dog show.

In a huge burst of optimism I had entered John and Crunch at the Metropolitan Washington Dachshund Club’s specialty show up in Warrenton, VA.(For those of you not in the know, a specialty show is a show dedicated to just one breed. In this case Dachshunds). I got Jake his Junior Handler number and we were all set.

For the past couple of weeks I have been trying to get Jake to practice. I knew Crunch would be fine, but Jake really needed to learn how to present a dog to a judge. Jake was not very willing so in the end I focused on telling him what the likely patterns the judge would have him do and have him comfortable picking Crunch up, putting him on the table and then back down on the ground. (Dachshunds are a “table breed,” the judge examines each dog up on a table with a non-slip surface. The dog is at waist height so the judge can get a good look at the dog without having to crawl around on the floor.)

At first Jake was very awkward picking Crunch up, which is understandable. Crunch is a big dachshund at 27 lbs (in his prime he was 30 lbs of solid muscle) and Jake is not particular large for his age and is just over 60 lbs. The other problem is that Crunch loves to go up in the table and tries to jump up as you bend over to pick him up. Everybody who has ever picked up Crunch has been clonked on the chin by his very hard head. So in addition to picking up a good sized dog, Jake has to also keep his head out of the way. Saturday night Crunch finally nailed Jake on the side of his jaw. Poor Jake was nearly in tears and had some serious doubts about going to the show. I told him that he was committed and he would be going, however, if he never wanted to show again that would be fine. I think it is very important to honor your commitments. If you say you are going to do something, then you better do it.

In the end he mastered the trick of keeping his head out of harms way while heaving Crunch up onto the table. It wasn’t pretty, but he could do it so that Crunch was safe and secure in his arms. Conversely, getting Crunch off the table is a piece of cake.

So back to yesterday, it was a painful awaking for me Sunday morning. It was pitch black outside and the bed was so comfy. After a few moments lying there in bed I got up and about. After I showered and dressed I prodded Jake up. It took two tries, but in the end I got him going. We needed to be on the road ideally by 5, bur quarter after would be fine. The red dogs were amped when I got them feed and let out. They knew we were going to a show and wanted to go. Rally tottered out and was very happy to go back to bed. She never really cared for shows and at this point in her life all she wants to do is have something to eat and take then a nap somewhere soft. Jake tried to eat a little breakfast, but it was too early. I promised him that I would pick up some pancakes for him at Mickey D’s and that cheered him up. We were on the road by 5:15 am. The show started at 8:00 am with Puppy Sweepstakes, followed by Veteran’s Sweepstakes. The drive should only take 2 hours and 15 minutes, but I wanted to allow for and traffic issues and my taking a wrong turn. Also I wanted time to unload the car at the show site and to change my outfit.

We arrived in plenty of time. Crunch showed his heart out in Sweepstakes and almost got Best Veteran in his variety. The Judge was so pleased as we gaited around the ring with our competition that she said she would love to take both dogs home, either dog deserved the award. In the end she settled on the female and not Crunch, but it was a close thing.

Then we had to wait. Jake was next up, but not until after lunch. We watched the show for a while, walked our dogs and Jake practiced gaiting Crunch. Then Jake decided to change his clothes at lunchtime. There was a canine freestyle demonstration (aka dancing with your dog) and Jake wanted to watch. It was a fun program and I knew both the handler, Mary Ann and her dog, Cannon. The dog was having a fabulous time; Cannon’s tail was wagging like mad all throughout the demonstration.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

He was a bit nervous, but he did all right. The judge was extremely kind and asked Jake if he needed help getting Crunch down from the table. He politely declined, got Crunch down himself and awaited further instruction. The judge then started to describe the pattern she wanted Jake to move Crunch. Halfway through her description he blurted out “Oh, you want a triangle.” This pleased the judge that he was at least familiar with the different patterns. Jake sensibly let Crunch chose the pace and they both looked very nice going around the ring. Jake had a hard time stacking Crunch and dropped the lead a few times, but we’ll work on that. Jake was by far the youngest handler and Crunch was the oldest dog entered that day. They made for a very cute pair. Jake earned his ribbon and got a little stuffed dachshund key ring as a prize. Afterwards I asked him if he wanted to do this again and I got a big grin and an enthusiastic yes in response.

Then I showed John in his class where he was a complete noodle brain. Since he was the only dog in his class he went onto winners and that is where he lost it. He spent the whole time flipping about on the end of the lead trying to play with all the dogs following him. I need to get the dog out more. Ah well, he’s still young and he still hasn’t completely matured yet. I have time.

Then it was a quick change of dogs and it was Crunch’s turn in the ring. We had a bit of drama at this point. John squirmed away from Jake and bolted into the ring to be with Crunch and me. He was easily rounded up and the show went on. At this point I’m not sure what happened. I had cut one of Crunch’s rear nails a bit short the previous night and I think he caught it on one of the mats in the ring; anyway he suddenly started to limp. The judge noticed it too and decided to give us one more chance before excusing us. Crunch rallied and did much better. But in the end the other dog won. This really wasn’t that bad considering that dog went on to get Best Smooth in Show.

Stud dog class was a bit chaotic, with Jake handling Crunch and I with Mr. Noodle Brain, John. My first instinct was not to use John and I think I should have gone with it. Initially we did all right, but the second time in the ring wasn’t as good.

All in all it was a good day, Crunch really shone and Jake had a very good time. The nicest part was when the young woman that got Best Junior Handler stopped by to chat with Jake. She told him that he has a cute dog and she was very impressed that Jake was able to put Crunch up on the table by himself. She said she would not have been able to do that. I really like the Junior Handlers program. The kids are expected to compete with each other, but they are required to be good sports.

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