About 3/4 of the way through this IWSCOPS specialty weekend, I had thought to begin this post by saying that this has been the kind of dog show where, when asked how it was, you’re supposed to say, “We had fun.” Deciphered, that often means that you didn’t do well at the show. Some people do actually mean that they had fun, but it’s often more like, when you feel like crap, and are asked “how are you?”, you say “fine.” So — we had fun.
But actually, by the time the show was over, discouragement turned to relief and happiness, and I realized that some things did go really well. So let’s start with that.
One of the puppies from Tooey’s first litter, Pax (the former Mr. Red), took Winner’s Dog in both the Friday and Saturday conformation shows (both major wins), under two different judges and with two different handlers. Next, Bold (the former Mr. Green) won Best of Opposite Sex on Saturday, against some stiff competition. He is well on his way to a Grand Championship, and I couldn’t be prouder of his 18-year-old handler.
And then we did actually have some fun, too. Like Cooper and Tooey before him, Carlin, at 5-1/2 months old, retrieved his pigeon (you can read about how that part of the event is run in the posts about Cooper and Tooey), so he got to compete in the Bird Dog conformation match on Friday. Carlin took second after his brother Decoy in the puppy class, but the best part was that he qualified to enter the match at all. To do that, he had to go out about 15 yards, pick up a pigeon and bring it back. He went out fine, found the pigeon right away, and poked it with his nose a few times. I started backing up and calling him, so he picked up his pigeon and ran back to me with it.
In Saturday’s Pee Wee Puppies conformation match, Carlin again took 2nd to his brother. In both events, I got some compliments on my dog and how he was groomed, the inevitable advice about how I should do this thing or that differently, and comments from several people saying that they would have given my dog the nod over his brother. Plus, Carlin wagged his tail the whole time while getting treats and running around in circles.
But the very best part of the Specialty this year was that Cooper’s brain came back into his head just in time to run in Team Rally. Even up to moments before we ran, I was urging the the team captain to use one of the alternates because Cooper had done so poorly in Rally both Friday and Saturday.
On Friday, he’d qualified in the Excellent run, but then NQ’d in the Advanced run because he refused to sit. Half the stations required sits, so there was no way we could qualify. Then on Saturday, he walked out of the ring in the middle of the Excellent run, and even though his body returned, his brain just didn’t. It was as if he was on an entirely different planet from me, so I pulled him from the Advanced run altogether.
I felt dispirited and discouraged, and in the light of Cooper’s troubles, Carlin’s taking 2nd in his two events just felt like defeats. And I was afraid that I would feel worse if Cooper couldn’t or wouldn’t do it in Team Rally. I just couldn’t face letting down the team, too.
Renae, however, refused to let me quit. As far as she was concerned, I had to enter, and I had to go in first and just do it.
So I did. And thanks to the saint of lost dog brains, so did Cooper.
All of a sudden, he was right with me. He sat briskly when asked, heeled right next to me. Came to front, went around, stayed when required, and just generally played the game with me like we were a team. I had my dog back!
I was so happy that my brain temporarily left the building, and I missed one entire station. Fortunately, in Team Rally, missing a station just results in lost points. (If it had been regular Rally, I’d have NQ’d for that.) That mistake bumped us down to 3rd place instead of 2nd, but while my teammates were astonished at my error, no one was angry. And I was happy. I had my Cooper back and we were a team again.
Later, after I got home from the show, I got some more good news. Today, with his third show this weekend, Pax* got his AKC championship. This is especially wonderful because he’s the third of Tooey’s puppies to become champions, after Sorcha** (Ms. Yellow) and Bold*** (Mr. Green), making Tooey an Outstanding Producer. Pax did it under all different judges with different handlers, in a sweep of major wins in just a few short months — first in the IWSCA Specialty in Utah in April and then three shows in a row this weekend — two at the IWSCOPS specialty and a third at the Sammamish Kennel Club show.
What a weekend!
* Pax — Am CH/Can CH Whistle Stop’s Not Me, ‘Pax’ Did It RN
** Sorcha — Am CH/Aus CH Whistle Stop Mine to Keep at Tirriki
*** Bold — CH Whistle Stop’s Bring It On