No, not the most creative post title I've ever had, but one that, I think, is pretty darn descriptive of my weekend. The AKC dog show at the Monroe Civic Center, you see, and the impending addition of a pup to the Irrelefamily.
For those of you late in catching up, I love animals of all sorts. Of the family canine I love big dogs, more specifically the long, sleek big dogs--Doberman Pinscers, Borzoi, Afghan Hounds, Saluki, Irish Wolfhounds, that sort of critter. Elegant animals. And here of late, Borzoi have caught and more importantly HELD my eye. I shan't get into the details, if you want that you can search the blog, or for that matter you can google Borzoi and/or Russian Wolfhound and find a wealth of information. First, though, is the event that happened BEFORE I had my moment of glory at the show Saturday.
I found myself waiting by Ring 7 for friends of ours to make it to the show, and while I waited I found myself by the Borzoi showing, and while I waited for the Borzoi to all show up and enter I was watching a really nice older lady showing a very young boy, maybe eight or so, how to show an Irish Wolfhound in the ring. I assumed, naturally, that he was her grandson.
Now. Irish Wolfhound. In a nushell, imagine a Shetland Pony. Thin it down a little in the chest, give it somewhat wiry greyish brown hair, a thick muzzle and a long tail and you've got an Irish Wolfhound. Biggest dog there is, a genuine monster. Built by the smallest, meanest people in the world to guard flocks of sheep in some of the nastiest country ever designed. Big dog. Tough dog. Feet like dinner plates. Anyway.
When I complimented the little boy on his skill, the older lady asked if I would do them a favor? I agreed, thinking she wanted me to fetch her a program or something. No, seems she needed someone to help her hold the spare Irish Wolfhound they had. One of FOUR they were showing. Her husband and her were both showing together, one each, the little boy was showing one more, and I was to hold one close by, with his lead up behind his ears, ready to swap out the moment she left the ring, both the dogs and her number badge. I had a fun ten or fifteen minutes watching the Borzoi show over the back of this grey beast, Fargo, and then it was our turn! Brenda and Iris did their turn around the ring, got judged, then she was bounding out of the ring, I was handing off one lead and taking another, and helping Brenda swap arm numbers and she was gone again, back to the ring while Iris and I made friends, she by leaning on me.
Kids, let me tell you right now--when an Irish Wolfhound leans on you, all you can possibly do is lean back. It's like having a building lean on you. Shock! Weight! Strength! The only thing that kept that dog from carrying me off like a rubber squeak toy was the fact that she THOUGHT I was stronger than her. HAH!
So, my duty dispatched honorably, I felt like a million bucks! After they had gathered their ribbons I complimented them on their grandson and asked how old he was. Brenda's husband had no idea. I got a strange look, whereupon I was host to another shock. The little boy was a stranger to them, too. He had asked them the day before if they needed help. They said yes, come back tomorrow. He arrived in his suit and tie, ready to go, they gave him a ten minute crash course in Showing An Irish Wolfhound To His Best In The Ring, and sent him out with their puppy, who was also in the ring for the first time.
I was so pleased to think that complete strangers had trusted me with their dog AND trusted that little eight year old boy to take their Wolfhound around the ring for them. I know that dog show people CAN be complete freaks, can be rude to strangers and are one of the biggest, most introverted cliques in the world, even counting Republicans, but I have met many people thus far at dog shows who are kind, trusting, and outgoing, a trait that I admire deeply in their canine companions almost as much as I admire it in their owners.
The other trusting soul? Rita Linck.
A little less than a year ago we met a lovely lady by the name of Rita who runs Aria Borzoi next door in Texas. Her dog was what drew me to her originally. He's a lovely creature, lithe and long and elegant as a Mercedes touring car, he came up to me at the local show like we were old friends, and we hit it off like bosom buddies. We talked to Rita at some length while she was at the show, and I palled around with my new friend Jesse James, and we left with her card and her website address.
Talk began to ensue about us owning one or more of these lovely creatures, but time passed, bills came and went, and while the discussion cooled a great deal it was never completely closed. I checked Rita's website fairly often, keeping up with my boy Jesse, and watched opportunities come and go.
About two months ago, friends of ours got themselves a fabulous deal on a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, with the intention of showing him as a sideline. This got Mrs. Irrelephant fired up to join Rachel in the ring, so we all ended up at the Monroe show this weekend to see what was happening. And since we were going to be there anyway, me with my Borzoi-fire stoked back up, I contacted Rita to let her know we'd be there, and that we might want to talk seriously about a pup she has available.
Well, to shorten a story that I could go on with for hours, we got there, Rita showed up with Adia her Greyhound and Jesse, and since she and Adia had a few hours to kill before she showed with the Greyhound group, and since Jesse wasn't going to show that day, she suggested I take him around the show, just sort of hang out with him.
It took two paramedics to get me back on my feet again.
Jesse has no short length of credentials. He's a champion in a lot of different areas, a very serious piece of work in the show ring AND in lure coursing and outdoor trials, and here this lady was ready to let me take his leash and him and go wandering in a crowded dog show, unattended.
I flipped utterly out.
Keep in mind that Rita and I had, to that point, spoken for about half an hour in person, and swapped two emails, and she was now ready to let me go wandering with her very expensive show dog. For real! For hours! I even got a couple of mediocre cellular phone camera pictures to prove that it happened.
Don't ask me, he just felt like rolling around on the floor a little bit. Maybe he likes my shoes.
Here's me and the old boy hisself.
He looks small there, but like Rita said, he's "thirty six inches tall, and three wide." That's a big dog, boys and girls. And I lead him around those rings, and in and out of people and dogs and all around. It was one of the proudest moments of my life. He is such a well-mannered, outgoing chap, stopping to visit with strangers, pausing to sniff the occasional butt, and in general being such a marvelous goodwill ambassador for the breed that I felt rather like an extra, but that's okay! He was perfectly mannered the entire time, and we even helped a pair of lovely little Italian Greyhound puppies get acclimated to having strange dogs around them. Several hours with the dog of my dreams, and I was walking on clouds, utterly.
Next weekend is the trip to Fort Worth, to visit Rita and Jesse and all the beautiful Borzoi of Aria Borzoi, and with luck and planning we'll put a downpayment on this little lovely girl, our future showring winner:
(Image and all rights thereunto copyright Rita Linck and Aria Borzoi.)