Mar 5, 2008

Patient Zero & Horse And Pony Shows

I hate being sick almost as much as I hate being off work on a beautiful day and not being able to do anything but sit around and be sick.

Did I mention I hate being sick?

It started out Sunday afternoon after the dog show, which I'll get to after this rant. You recall my back pain from the previous post? Still with me, but decreasing. I hd already taken off work Monday for recoup time and you recall I spent it doped up with Percocet, sleeping, hoping that the muscles wouldn't be too strained. Well, I went to work yesterday like a good little monkey, winced a lot, was careful how I walked and the whole works. Survived nicely even though I felt like a thinly hammered dog-turd. I also tried to stay far away from the nurse who was coughing and hacking like she'd caught TB.

(One of the things I hate about nurses? They work when they're sick because they think it's their calling. Uhm...hello? If your sick, don't come to work--We Don't Want It! You're just causing more misery, not alleviating it!)

This morning around 4am, still very groggy under the effects of two Percocet taken at 9 to help my back relax enough to sleep I find the urge to pee pushing me out of bed. I creep slowly across the cold room (I let the heater drop to 60 at night during the winter, makes for nice warm blanket time) and by the time I'd reached the toilet I was shaking so bad I thought I was having a petit mal seizure. The thing being, I was conscious. My entire body was literally shaking like I had palsy. I managed to make a mess of me and the bathroom, got back to bed and lay there trembling like I was going through the delirium tremens. After a few minutes of quaking I warmed back up and stopped, and it occurred to me that the Percocet must have so loosened my muscle control that I couldn't put enough strain on them to make them stop trembling. I realised later that I was running fever too, so the shock of suddenly going from a superheated fever bed to a 60 degree room made an octogenarian out of me.

I've got...something. The flu? Gods I hope not. Fever, sniffles, and a chest full of green stuff that makes me cough so hard I strain my back muscles. NICE! Have I mentioned I hate being sick? And that by the way is one of the reasons I'm afraid of prescription medication stronger than weak tea. I don't like not being able to make any of my major muscle groups stop with the St. Vitus Dance.

So here I am, at home, sick on a beautiful day, wishing for a magic bullet. Someone just come shoot me now?

Okay, rant over. On to the dog show.

Texas is a vile place, let's just put that up front plain and clear. It's dry, hot, and too empty. It's a desert with a thin layer of dirt over it to give the mesquite trees something to cling to. I don't like Texas, but the dog show was a blast.

Now, owning a Borzoi is a strange thing. They fell out of popular favour back in the 40s when Art Deco became passe' and tiny ornamental dogs became all the rage. Owning and showing one becomes a bit of a challenge then because it's hard to get much competition at shows. If we owned a Golden Lab we'd be competing in groups so big that it takes hours to complete a showing in the breed ring. As it is, we're lucky to get three or four other Borzoi together in a ring on the same day, and anything past that is near impossible.

Until this weekend.

The stars aligned, all the incense bearers were in town, the red-carpet rollers were on standby; there were TWENTY TWO Borzoi at the Wichita Falls show. One of the exhibitors said it looked like a national Borzoi Club meet, and I have to agree--it was startling. Everywhere you looked there were elegant faces and curled coats and long, streamlined bodies. All we needed was a Duesenburg Model J touring car and a blonde starlet in a white fur coat and we'd have all the elements for an Esquire photo shoot.

If you've ever watched Westminster or the Eukanuba Tournament on television you know that the typical show ring time is short. You don't have scads of time to make a good impression so you go in with all guns blazing. Ordinarily the dogs go in, the handlers stack them quickly, the judge eyes them each briefly and then he or she sends them around the ring once in a circle. He or she then sets in to examining each dog separately. After that expert hands-on (perhaps all of thirty seconds) the judge sends the handler and dog 'down and back,' which is to say they move to the far corner of the ring and back again at a trot so the judge can see how the dog moves in a straight line, and then it's the next dog's turn. For Mrs. I to be in the breed ring with Belle more than five minutes is startling; it's simply that quick and efficient.

Not Saturday.

Saturday we had an ARSEHOLE for a judge. A veteran breeder/handler/judge of some 30 + years, this guy decided he wanted to take these 22 Borzoi and their handlers and make as much misery for everyone as possible, be they professional handlers and champion dogs or, like us, raw novices.

He sent everyone around not once but three times. He berated everyone vocally and at length the entire time this went on. He reset every dog he examined (moved their legs to where he thought they should be.) During the down and back he berated Mrs. I the entire time, telling her to speed up, slow down, do this and that. He did this to EVERYONE in the ring. Then instead of making his final pick he started taking groups of two or three or four dogs and making them move around, all the while berating others to "stay there and don't do a thing until I tell you to move." Then he'd take a few more and do the same. Repeat ad nauseum. This went on for a good fifteen minutes, far longer than the average Borzoi's fun tolerance. I could see the sweat pouring off these people's faces, and could see restlessness in each dog's posture. It was a gauntlet, and he was going to make everyone run it. Twice. The muttering outside the ring sounded like someone was about to light torches and start handing out the pitchforks.

And then? Belle took Best of Winners. My little sweet lanky gold and creme Belle beat out a huge pack of dogs to take her first major win. I won't get into the somewhat labyrinthine layout of AKC points and prizes; suffice to say she didn't take Best In Breed (top honors, that went to a champion-level dog) but she did place EXTREMELY high in the rankings, enough to earn us three points toward her championship. Now all we need is one other major win (determined by how many dogs you compete against) and enough minor wins to make 15 points and she'll be done! "Finished," as they call it, and we can append "Ch" to her name, ask a far better price for her puppies which will come years later, and be proud owners of a champion class dog.

Trial by fire. I'm still not sure if the judge was just an arse or he really wanted to have Belle shown to the best of her ability, but either way it's a win. A BIG win.

Sunday we lost over some political gambit being played between a big breeder and the judge, but hey, I don't care. Nothing could spoil the feeling I got when he pulled Belle out of the lineup in first position and handed Mrs. I that blue and white ribbon.

The neatest part of the weekend, though? Watching twenty two Borzoi lope in a big circle. It looked like some sort of marvelous calliope, all multi-coloured dogs loping along easily, tails held low, long faces straight out in front, their long silky fur blowing. And then it happened--the third pass of all those elegant dogs created enough of a coriolis effect in the air that a breeze stirred up and blew across the spectators.

I haven't smiled that big in a while.

Belle and Sean being prepped

Sean, waiting impatiently for his incense bearers.

Belle, wondering why HER incense bearers think she's a complete dork.


meno said...

Your dog is GORGEOUS! Although i am still wondering where that thinly hammered dog turd thing came from.

Gordo said...

She IS beautiful, Irr. WOow. Congratulations on the win!

Texas is the weirdest place I've ever been to. My wife was sent to Dallas in the early 90's for work training and I went along. About two months before, a devastating hail storm went through the area and almost overnight, a burgeoning "dent removal" industry appeared. These companies were advertising their services on billboards when we were there.

It's the only place I've EVER seen a billboard, let alone a dozen or more, advertising vasectomy reversal surgery.

It's the only place that I've ever been offered fries when ordering two ice cream cones: "Y'all want fries with that?" No, thanks. :-)

My sister-in-law and her family live in Houston. She's picked up some "interesting" vocabulary down there. All of it referring to minorities. :-(

Maggie said...


Maggie said...

But get well soon.

Nancy Dancehall said...

Loverly dog. Is Sean Belle's beau?

Feel better! *ladling you some homemade chicken soup*

Daisy said...

What a wonderful story and congratulations on the big win!

My friend works at Knopf where the borzoi even has its own imprint, so I am well familiar with the lovely sleek shape of the beast. He collects images in all shapes and sizes and I even took some photos of a lovely borzoi sculpture tucked away on a hidden floor at the Boston Museum of Science for him. (I'll have a look; if the images are any good, p'raps I'll send. You can show them on the radio show.)