Saturday, July 24, 2010

GCH&H Summer Show Report

We had a nice little outing at GCH&H's summer shows today. Four MAs were in attendance: Gil, Belle, Luna and Dude making his debut in the regular classes. The day was hot so the dogs were a bit sluggish, except for Gil who seems to always do his best in the heat. Go figure.

Anyway, Gil ended up winning Best of Breed in both shows which, I believe, should have finished his Grand Championship but that's still pending UKC approval. We had a large lineup of dogs in group this time; the Afghan, Basenji, Canaan Dog, Pharaoh Hound, Portuguese Podengo and Whippet.

In the first show, Gil took a Group 2 after the Whippet and followed by the Pharaoh in third and the Afghan in fourth. In show two, Gil took a Group 3 after the Afghan and Whippet and followed by the Pharaoh Hound.

All in all it was a lovely day. We had a chance to reconnect after our long trip and see lots of old friends, which is always nice.

Sorry, no pictures. Everyone forgot to bring a camera.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Our Premier Adventure: Part 8

Sunday was our last day of competition at Premier and everyone was pooped to say the least. Both conformation and terrier racing were scheduled for 9:00am, which made things tricky for us yet again, but thankfully everyone was very understanding and accommodating so we were able to do both without too much friction.

The conformation judge for Sunday was Steven Melgreen. Mr. Melgreen was very complimentary and thorough, noting that he was particularly pleased with Gil's muscle tone and conditioning but thought that all the sighthounds needed some work done on their toenails. Every judge is different, and I took both comments into consideration for the future. Gil was Best of Breed again, but did not pick up a placement in group.

Since Opal was scratched from racing we decided to let her have a go at the new lure coursing program for all breeds. Both Opal and Bandit got to run the course once and both received a qualifying leg towards their "Coursing Aptitude" degree. More importantly, both had a fantastic time!

And so concludes our Premier Adventure. It was definitely a trip to remember and one for the MA history book. According to UKC officials, the 2011 Premier will be held in Richmond again next year. I'm not sure if we're going to make it but it's definitely an event I would attend again in the future.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Our Premier Adventure: Part 7

After a decent night's rest we woke up bright and early again on Saturday to get ready for the morning's conformation show. Terrier racing didn't start till 5:00 so it was nice to not have to rush around like we had before.

Our judge for Saturday was Robert Collins, the same judge that presided over us in the second phase of Top Ten. Considering Mr. Collins' lack of enthusiasm over Gil two days before I did not expect to do very well in group, and I was right. Gil again won Best of Breed but did not get considered for a group placement. Nevertheless, he showed very well and his mood was great so I was happy about that.

At terrier racing Beryl did us proud again with some excellent runs. She didn't end up placing very high but that didn't matter. We were just so pleased with her continued enthusiasm and strong running. Normally she poops out after two days but she was going stronger than ever. Opal was clearly getting stressed with all the strangers and distractions so we decided to scratch her from the rest of the racing for the weekend and just let her relax and enjoy a game of fetch in the evening.

Leeroy ended up being the big winner of the day by taking home an Overall Fastest Dachshund award, along with some very nice prizes.

With just one more day to go we were feeling the strain of the long weekend and looked forward to finishing Sunday's competitions.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Our Premier Adventure: Part 6

Since we didn't make the finals for Top Ten, we were only scheduled for a regular conformation show and terrier racing on the second day of Premier.

Our conformation judge this day was Nina Marie Sherrer. I was glad that up until this point every judge we showed under was unfamiliar to me. There were a number of judges present that we had already showed under back home and I was eager to show off the MAs to new faces. Ms. Sherrer was a thorough judge and gave every dog her undivided attention when it was their turn to show.

Fecni showed much better than she had in Top Ten (she was moving very well) and I really thought the judge was going to pick her for breed but Gil won out again. After breed judging was over we had a few hours before the group schedule would be announced and terrier racing wasn't going to start until 5:00 so we decided to crash in the RV for a little bit.

After a brief nap our uncle Alan and aunt Cheryl arrived. Both are dog lovers so they were eager to see what we were doing. By that time the group schedule had been posted and the sighthounds were scheduled to be judged first promptly at 1:30 which only gave us about a half hour before show time.

UKC did a lovely job setting up the group show rings; it felt just like being at Westminster. We were ordered into the ring by size/speed which put Gil and I up toward the front in back of the Borzoi. Ms. Sherrer was our group judge again and like she had done in breed she was very thorough in her judging. This was the largest group we had ever shown in so I was really hoping to make a placement. Gil showed well and was very jolly during the whole thing. After the judge was done going over all the dogs she went down the line and picked out dogs for her short list. To my delight she pointed at Gil and I took a spot behind the Deerhound. I was certain we had made a placement until I saw that she had pulled more dogs than there were ribbons for. After going over her short list she reshuffled us and unfortunately we did not place. Still, it was wonderful to have made the short list and I was delighted that the Greyhound was given a group 1. Greyhounds so seldom take top honors like that.

We hurried back to put Gil back in the RV and get the little ones out for the races. Alan and Cheryl were really excited to watch the races and they were definitely not disappointed. To our very great surprise, Beryl ran the best races she has ever run in her life against some very strong competition and pulled off a third place in the flat races and a second place in steeple! Considering that she's usually dead last when she runs at home we were beyond ecstatic. I believe she actually earned her first points towards her racing titles.

Bandit dominated the dachshund races as usual and took home some beautiful ribbons, much to the delight of his owner. Even though he's slower, Leeroy still ran with a lot of heart and did us all proud.

The races left us all thoroughly exhausted so we headed back to the RV for some much needed sleep before day three ...

Friday, July 16, 2010

Our South Dakota Adventure

We had such an eventful time in South Dakota that I thought it warranted its own individual blog entry. I will continue my Premier summary in a separate post.

Anyway, the first big event we had in South Dakota was kind of a bad one. We believe Cali was bitten by some kind of bug, probably a spider. Whatever it was she developed a tennis ball-sized lump on her neck that was swelling fast and clearly very painful. So, we made an emergency trip to a local vet in the middle of the night to have it drained and treated. She's now sporting a rubber tube in her neck that will have to be removed in a few days, but she's looking and feeling much better. Just the same we figured it would be best to cut our trip short and try to get back home by Sunday or Monday. Cali's a trooper but even she gets stressed and at her age I think it's best to get on home and let her really rest.

Here's a gory picture for those who enjoy that sort of thing:

We hit the road for Rapid City around 7:00am. There were all kinds of funny sites along the way, including an 80 ft dinosaur statue. South Dakotans really seem fond of giant animal displays, real and fake.

After a few hours on the road we finally made it to Highway 16 which would take us to Mount Rushmore. Before heading on up we decided to fill up our gas tank at one of the roadside stations. We picked quite a station to stop at; this one had a "free wild animal exhibit" which consisted of a very large collection of taxidermy. Some of the pieces were quite well done; I think the best one was of the Nile crocodile pulling an antelope under water.

Once we were filled up we started the journey up Highway 16 towards Mount Rushmore. The monument is about 30-some miles off the main interstate and the Black Hills landscape along the way is just beautiful.

It's been a big dream of mine to visit Mount Rushmore and I was so excited to finally be able to see it. Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed on top of the mountain but our RV was parked in the perfect spot for a doggie photo-op with the monument right in back.

After we finished at Mount Rushmore we went about ten miles further to go see Crazy Horse Mountain. I really hope they finish it in my lifetime; it's going to be something else when it's done!

We are now at a campground in Hardin, Montana. We got to see part of the Little Bighorn and a beautiful Montana sunset. Now I know why they call this "Big Sky Country."

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Our Premier Adventure: Part 5

We have arrived in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The camp is nice and the scenery has been beautiful but we're looking forward to moving on to Rapid City tomorrow so we can hopefully catch a glimpse of Mount Rushmore.

The most exciting thing that's happened today is seeing Ol' Man River. We crossed over the Mississippi when we crossed into Minnesota. It's quite a site :)

Getting back to our Premier adventure, Thursday was our first day of competition. Both Gil and Fecni were scheduled to show in the Top Ten Invitational early in the morning along with hundreds of other dogs that had been invited to attend. For those who don't know, Top Ten is a special conformation competition for dogs that made it into the top ten rankings for their breed. Over the course of the year, dogs that defeat others of their own breed at UKC conformation shows earn top ten points for each dog they beat. The points are tallied and the dogs are ranked from 1 to 10. The top 10 dogs in each breed then get a chance to compete for "Best of the Top Ten" every year at Premier.

The Top Ten competition is broken down into three segments. The first part consists of choosing a best of breed winner from among the top ten dogs in each breed. Unfortunately only two of the top ten MAs (Gil and Fecni) were able to attend but some of the more popular breeds actually have all ten dogs in attendance.

For this first part of the Top Ten competition the two MAs were judged by Paul Bruneau. Mr. Bruneau did a thorough examination of both dogs and told us that he was very impressed with their quality. He even invited us to come and show them in Florida where he does most of his judging (maybe someday we'll make that trip). Although he liked both Gil and Fecni very much he ultimately conferred the Top Ten Best of Breed award to Gil. Even though there were only two dogs in competition I was thrilled with the win and the compliments the dogs received.

After the best of breed dogs were all chosen we moved on to the semi final round of the Top Ten competition. In this round all the best of breed winners are basically tossed into a hat and drawn at random into one of five large groups to be judged by a different judge whose name is not disclosed until the judging is about the begin. Robert Collins presided over Gil's group which consisted of, in part, the Doberman Pinscher, the American Pit Bull Terrier, the Irish Wolfhound, the French Bulldog and many others.

Only four dogs from each group are selected to go on to the final round of competition and even though Gil showed well he was not one of the four chosen. Oh well, better luck next time. We still had three more shows ahead of us ...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Our Premier Adventure: Part 4

Ok, three guesses as to where we are today. I'll give you a hint:

For those who guessed Wisconsin you are correct :) We arrived in a little city outside Madison around 6:00 in the evening after saying goodbye to our relatives in Indiana this morning. Our plan is to take the I-90 through South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, and Washington then take the I-5 through Oregon all the way home.

Picking up where I left off last time, after a scenic drive through Iowa on Tuesday we landed in LaSalle Illinois by early evening. I really liked Iowa, the picturesque farms were so pretty, it made me feel like I was traveling back in time. Corny, I know, but it's true. I was really excited when we drove through Madison County (the setting of one of my favorite movies) but unfortunately there were no covered bridges for me to take pictures of.

From Illinois we drove on to Richmond for the last leg of our trip to Premier. Indiana is in the process of remodeling much of their freeway system so we got caught in a merry-go-round of detours but finally made it to the Wayne County fairgrounds by mid afternoon.

Next time we'll have to plan to arrive earlier because by the time we got to the fairgrounds all the water hookups were taken. Fortunately there were still some electric outlets available so we were able to camp in a nice spot in between the terrier racing track and the show arena.

The weather was unbearably hot and humid when we arrived so we all hid inside the camper until night time. The only time I ventured out was to give Gil and Fecni their baths for the Top Ten competition the next morning.

By 5:30 my grandma and aunt arrived with a carload of supper for us; sloppy joes, potato salad, pie, chips, cookies and sweet tea. It was the first real meal we had since we left and it was great.

After dinner we fed the dogs and went to bed in preparation for our first day of competition ...

Monday, July 12, 2010

Internet at last!

I finally have internet! Unfortunately there was no wifi at the fairgrounds so no way to update the blog. The Premier is over and we are staying at my grandma's for a couple of days before we head home. I should have full internet access at our campsites on the way back so I'll try to post summaries of the weekend's events as best I can remember.

Livi and I have been trying to think of a word that best describes our Premier experience. The best we could come up with was "strange" lol. It was fun but we definitely had our fair share of mishaps so stay tuned for details.

Got to get to bed!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Our Premier Adventure: Part 3

Today was our smoothest travel day yet. Gil is feeling much better and made it through the night without any accidents. We fixed him up a little bed up front in the cabin and he has been much calmer although he still won't let himself fall asleep for very long. Hopefully he'll get even better as we go along.

We departed for Nebraska early this morning around 6:30. We wanted to make up for the long day we had yesterday and with Gil feeling so much better we were able to make better time. Since the little dogs have had the privilege of riding up front for the past two days we figured it was only fair that the big dogs get their chance.

The little ones were understandably horrified ...

The drive through Nebraska was pleasant but not terribly interesting. There's lots of corn and cattle, that's for sure. Apparently everyone in this state listens to country western music or religious music so we didn't have much to choose from on the radio.

We rolled into the Omaha campgrounds at 4:00 which gave us plenty of time to get comfortable. The campgrounds here are AMAZING! This place escorts you to your site, picks up your garbage and delivers pizza to your door! Not to mention the staff is super friendly and helpful.

I set up a little yard for the dogs outside the RV which they immediately took advantage of. Gil loves being outside and after being stuck in a car all day he was soooooo happy to have a chance to enjoy the fresh air.

Unfortunately the weather has changed dramatically since we left Wyoming. We have finally reached the hot, humid climate that I have been dreading. As much as I want Gil to have a chance to relax outside, he (like me) tends to be a magnet for bugs and he has a history of having allergic reactions to bug bites (just like me!), which is the last thing I need for a dog I intend to show in a couple of days. Of course I forgot to bring fly spray for the dogs so the best I can do is hope that his flea/tick meds will keep the real bad bugs away.

Another great thing about this campground is that they have a little doggie play area with agility equipment set up. Livi and I let Gil and Beryl have a try at it and we have concluded that we don't have enough time to train for agility. Nevertheless, we had a good time trying out the A-frame and teeter totter.

We plan to leave early again tomorrow so I'm going to try and get to bed earlier tonight. One thing I want to mention while it's on my mind is that I may not have internet access once we get to Indiana so if my blog entries slow down or stop just be patient!

More tomorrow when we arrive in Illinois.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Our Premier Adventure: Part 2

After a very rough first night (Gil got sick on the bed and the camper was rolling back and forth in the heavy wind), I was way too tired to even think of driving this morning so I handed the wheel over to Dad.

It's become very obvious over these past two days that traveling by RV is just not Gil's cup of tea. I think his nerves are what caused him to get sick overnight and he hasn't been able to relax at all during our 8 hours on the road. I have a theory that it's the noise that bothers him. The RV drives like a tin can so you can feel and hear every bump on the road. I wrapped one of the crate pads over his ears and that seemed to help a little. The one thing that does seem to calm him down a little is sitting way up front next to the driver.

Thankfully all the other dogs have been taking the trip in stride.

Aside from Gil's little traveling issues the trip has been pretty smooth; the only hitch is getting used to the time changes. We left Nevada around 8:00am, which is later than we would have preferred but we forgot to change our watches. We had a lovely scenic drive through Salt Lake City before reaching Wyoming.

The drive through Wyoming was... just, WOW. The landscape is absolutely beautiful, and GREEN, compared to the dry, brown Nevada desert. The pictures I took really don't do it justice. I can see now why people move to states like this. There's nothing but miles and miles of land for dogs to hunt and run on. Gil would love living here.

We finally reached the campgrounds in Cheyenne around 7:00. These grounds are a lot nicer than the ones in Wendover, unfortunately the weather is a bit too wet for us to be able to enjoy the outdoors. Oh well, hopefully tonight will be much less eventful than the one before. One thing for sure is that Cali (and me by default) is not going to get much rest if the wackos outside don't stop shooting off their fireworks.

We're off to Omaha tomorrow. More later.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Indiana or Bust! Our Premier Adventure: Part 1

Well, our journey has officially begun! We are off to our very first Premier in Richmond, IN and our biggest adventure yet. We picked up the rental RV on Friday and got it all packed and ready to go so we could hit the trail early Saturday morning.

We picked up one last extra passenger which gives us nearly a complete Noah's Ark of dogs: two Greyhounds, two Agars, two Rat Terriers, two Dachshunds and one token Chihuahua. Once everyone was settled in to the big rig we were off towards Reno, NV.

Since this is July 4th weekend we wanted to make sure that we beat traffic out of town (which we did successfully). After a somewhat treacherous drive over the Sierra Nevada mountains we finally made it to Reno for a quick pit stop. The weather here is surprisingly cool for this time of year, which is a real blessing considering how many bodies we have in the RV.

After a couple more hours we stopped at a rest area to water the dogs and fix ourselves a picnic lunch. Some ham sandwiches and a few crackers later and we were off again.

We arrived here at our campsite in Wendover, NV around 5:00pm giving us just enough time to get ourselves set up before dinner. Livi put together a lovely little meal of beans, rice, fresh cooked mushrooms and warm bread for us while the dogs basked outside the RV in their exercise pens.

As is usual here in Nevada our campsite is right by a casino so Dad decided to take a shuttle into town to check that out. In the meantime we're going to be getting ready for bed as we have a long drive towards Wyoming ahead of us tomorrow.

More later