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During our visit to my doctor’s office last week, Russ asked, “Can she go to the next dog show?” The doctor had just finished examining me, following up on my collapse at the previous weekend’s dog show in Enumclaw. After doing some tests and ordering some others, she first looked me in the eye, then at Russ, and then at me again, and said, “If you feel up to it, then you can go. But take care of yourself. No stress.”

Fortunately, as dog shows go, this year’s IWSCOPS specialty was pretty relaxed. I had my husband and my friends surrounding and taking care of me. People brought me water and offered to groom my dog. I even got offers to take him into the ring for me. And besides, since Cooper already has his show championship, taking him into the show ring was easy and not stressful. I knew we weren’t going to win, so I simply got to enjoy showing my beautiful hunting dog off to the crowd.

Cooper in the Field Trial Dogs class, IWSCOPS specialty 2011

Cooper mugging for Russ's camera

The obedience ring was a bit more stressful (don’t tell my doctor), but on Saturday, we had a few advantages. The trial was held indoors, which led to fewer distractions (all the bitches in season were not allowed in the building, and that helped Cooper concentrate on the job at hand). The professional photographer agreed to not photograph while Cooper and I were in the ring (Cooper thinks all cameras are held my Russ, and that breaks his concentration, too — see the picture above). Plus the crowd was quiet while we worked and burst into applause when we finished — I think they wanted Cooper and me to pass just as much as I did.

The judge was incredibly kind and helpful — she even gave Cooper and me another chance at the Long Down exercise, in which the dog has to stay down in place across the ring from the handler for 3 minutes. During our first try at it, the dog next to Cooper stood up and walked over to Cooper, and the other dog’s handler ran across the ring to get her dog. With all that distraction, Cooper stood up, too. The judge decided that this was unfair interference for a Novice dog, so she gave Cooper and me another chance at the Long Down.

I was surprised because I’d assumed we’d already failed. I knew we’d had lots of points taken off already. Cooper didn’t sit when we halted during the Heeling exercises. I also had to give him an extra “Heel” command when his attention lagged during the off-leash Heeling exercise. And, instead of standing still during all of the Stand for Exam exercise, he moved in a very small circle when I returned to him at the end of the exercise. Plus, during the Recall, he came to me at a nice trot, but instead of coming and sitting immediately in front of me, he came around behind me and sat, perfectly straight, facing my rear.

But even with all this, we hadn’t failed yet, making his extra chance at the Long Down was very fortunate. We passed that, and that kept us just enough points to qualify for Cooper’s first leg of his Companion Dog (CD) obedience title.

Christine & Riki, Patrice & Cooper, Lois & Bonnie, Judge Carolyn Wray
photo by Richard Liebaert

Cooper's first qualifying score in Novice A Obedience, IWSCOPS specialty 2011

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Dog shows are stressful. You wait your turn to go into the ring, and you try to remember to breathe. You go into the ring, hope your dog will live up to the hours of training you’ve put in, and try to remember to breathe. Sometimes you shake a little with nervousness, and your friends outside the ring make breathing motions at you. You look at them, smile, and breathe. Then the judging is finished, and you leave the ring, either pleased or disappointed with the results, and you try to remember to breathe.

In the past, between breaths, I have joked that someday a dog show would be the death of me. But I never really thought that one day a dog show would actually try to kill me.

All morning before my slot in the Novice Obedience ring at the Eunumclaw dog show, I complained to Rod and Renae that I felt bad. All three of us thought it was nervousness. That makes sense — I’m usually nervous at dog shows. And then I got into the ring, and couldn’t breathe easily. Also usual. And then my hands started to shake. Well, that’s not usual, but, after all, this was my first time in Obedience, so maybe not unexpected.

When we got out of the ring (Cooper didn’t pass — he walked away during the Stand for Exam to go check something out in the next ring.), I gathered up my lightweight crate, Cooper on his leash, and started to walk over to Jayme’s RV, where she was going to do some grooming on Cooper for me (bless her heart). It was hard walking over there. I had to stop every 15 steps or so, put down my stuff, rest, and then pick it up and take 15 more steps. Well, I thought, it’s hot (90 F), I’m still nervous, and I don’t feel good. But I didn’t suspect that I had anything to worry about.

Finally, I got over to Jayme’s RV, and over the next couple of hours, I felt worse and worse. Dizzy, lightheaded, unable to stand up for more than a few seconds. Had to sit down, and then I had to lie down. I sweated profusely and then stopped sweating. Paul came over, looked at me, told me my face was all white, and suggested I drink something with sugar in it. He brought me a Coke. Jayme gave me water. Russell made me a sandwich, but I was too nauseated to eat it. All the while, I felt worse. Finally, I asked Paul, who had been a medic, what the symptoms of a heart attack in a woman are. What he described, after checking with his clinician wife Paula, sounded like what I was going through. Except I never did suffer any chest pain or pressure — but I guess that is not unheard of in women.

Then my Irish Water Spaniel friends saved me. They called the medics. They encouraged me to go in the ambulance to the emergency room. Jayme, Russell, and Paul took care of Cooper and my car and all my stuff. Rod and Renae met me at the hospital. They picked up Cooper and my car, and took it all to their house for the duration. They even missed a wedding the next day to take care of me and my dog.

So here I am, three days later, not dead. After days in the hospital, many tests, blood draws, and checkings of vital signs, they don’t know what went wrong. Several signs and my family history point to a heart problem. Could have been dehydration. Could have been an anxiety attack.

So, I’ll be off to my physician this afternoon to see what my next steps are.

The question is: Do my next steps include my going to the IWSCOPS specialty dog show next weekend? I’ve been looking forward to it for months and months. Everyone thinks I’m nuts, but I still really want to go.

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Cooper has it all, mostly — he hunts sometimes, he’s somewhat obedient, and he occasionally wins at dog shows.

Today, I’m very happy with his being awarded Winner’s Dog at the Greater Clark County dog show in Vancouver, Washington.

ribbons for 1st in Amateur class and then Winner's Dog

ribbons for 1st in Amateur class and Winner's Dog

If we can find a major somewhere and Cooper wins it, then he’ll met all the requirements for a show championship (Ch). He already has his Junior Hunter title (JH). With a Ch and a JH, then all he’d need is a CD (Companion Dog) Obedience title to be what’s considered to be an “All Around IWS.”

Tammy’s got me started on the Obedience work by informing me that I AM going that I enter Cooper at the Rose City show in the Rally competitions. Rally is like an informal, more fun version of Obedience — in Rally, you do obedience moves around a course, and you can talk to your dog as much as you like. It’s good practice, it’s fun, and it’ll get me going until I can get into a competition Obedience class here in the Portland area (there are l-o-o-o-ng waiting lists).

But in the meantime, I’ll just enjoy my win. And because Cooper needed competition to get any points for today, thanks to Colleen for bringing some dogs down to Vancouver for Cooper to compete against.

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When you write a blog, it’s always nice to have the photos right away, on or near the day events occurred. But with official dog show pictures, this is usually not possible. You have to wait until the show photographer has the time to print and send the photos to you.

So, just the other day I finally got the official show pictures from our lucky day at the Del Valle dog show, back on October 24.

Tooey, after her championship point, photo by Holloway Photos

Cooper, after his first major win, photo by Holloway Photos

These pictures are very traditional:

  • The judge holds the trophies and/or ribbons.
  • The handler stands next to the judge and holds the dog.
  • Both the judge and the handler ideally look at the dog, not the camera.
  • The dog stands in a stacked position. (Front legs should be straight and under the shoulder blades. Rear legs should be vertical from the hock down.)
  • There is a placard that shows the show name, what placement the dog won, whether it’s a major win, and the title earned, if any. Usually the photographer’s name is on there, too, and often a date.

In these pictures, you can also get a hint of how wet it was outside — see the rain water on my shoulders? and the judges’ raincoat?

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The most amazing and dramatic of our show ring successes were Tooey’s finishing her championship and Cooper’s winning a major. Dramatic not just for the facts that Tooey and Cooper both won Winners on the same day, and that Tooey finished her championship, and that Cooper got his first major win. But also for the weather, which was pouring down rain and blowing gusts of wind.

Cathy Shelby sent some pictures. It’s often hard to see wind and rain in pictures, so I’m grateful for this first picture, which shows how pouring down it was:

rain at Del Valle dog show, Oct 24, 2010

The next picture shows the line-up in the Best of Breed ring. Here Cooper and Tooey are competing with each other to see who will win Best of Winners. At the right, Tooey is sort of hidden behind Tammy, and then Cooper and I, are at the end of the line-up. Since I couldn’t show both my dogs at the same time, Tammy took Tooey into the ring. In this picture, Tammy is taking Tooey’s number from me so she can put it on her arm. You can also see how our dresses and hair are flying in the wind.

Best of Breed ring, Del Valle show, Oct 24, 2010

The next picture is a close up of Cooper and Tooey standing “stacked” — that odd dog show posture that shows the judge how well the dog is put together. The judge is out of the picture, but is standing in the center of the ring, facing the dogs, who are all stacked as beautifully as their handlers can get them.

I can see from the picture (I didn’t see it that day) that Cooper’s front legs are too close together, but otherwise, both Tooey and Cooper look good. And thank God, Cooper decided to stand still — he doesn’t particularly like that stacked position, but did it for me that day anyway.

Cooper and Tooey, Best of Breed ring, Del Valle, Oct 24, 2010

I hope soon to get pictures from the official show photographer. They’re the ones that show the judge holding the ribbons, the handler holding the dog, the plaque that describes the dog’s win that day, and the dog, again in stacked position. I’ll post those pictures when I get them.

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We’re all tired. It’s been two weekends in a row of dog shows. First the 4-day Harvest Moon Cluster in California, and then this weekend’s Vancouver Kennel Club show. This is my three favorite mammals, just after our nap this afternoon:

But not to complain.

We had a great time, and a lot of success. I’ve already written about our wonderful luck at the Harvest Moon Cluster and Tooey’s qualifying in Rally Novice yesterday.

Today was another good day. Cooper won Winner’s Dog, giving him another point toward his championship, and Tooey took Best of Opposite Sex again today (on top of also winning it yesterday).

Here’s me with Cooper, and Tammy with Tooey in the Best of Breed ring today. Tooey is being examined by the judge.

What you don’t see is Stacy with Keegan, who took Best of Breed and later Best in Show (he’d be to the right of Tooey), and Becky with Faethe, who took both Winners Bitch and Best of Winners (they would be to the left of Cooper). Congrats to them both!

So Tooey, who has her championship now, is done in the show ring as far as I’m concerned. She’s going to be going to the hunt training pro in just over a week. But Cooper — well, now he has a major and 11 points, so we can’t stop yet. We’ll probably keep going for awhile, pursuing a championship for him, too.

Sigh.

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As soon as the AKC gets to recording it, Tooey will add another title, so her name will be Ch. Stanegate Second Thoughts RN. Or spelled out: Champion Miss Tooey Rally Novice.

Tooey, Trice, and their Rally Novice prize and ribbon

Tooey earned her third qualifying score today in the Rally Novice A class at the Vancouver Kennel Club show. It was a respectable 93 out of 100. Not one of the two 99’s or the 97, but I’ll take it. All I needed for that 3rd qualifying score for the RN was at least a 70.

The trickiest station for me was my handler error with Rally Sign #25. Here’s how the rule book describes this exercise:

Rally Sign #25

“25. HALT–1, 2 and 3 Steps Forward–The handler halts and the dog sits in heel position to begin the exercise. The handler takes one step forward and halts with the dog maintaining heel position. The dog sits when the handler halts. This is followed by two steps forward – halt, and three steps forward–halt, with the dog heeling each time the handler moves forward and sitting each time the handler halts. (Stationary exercise)”

I did the first two parts just fine: I halted and Tooey sat, and then I took one step forward, with Tooey staying in heel position and sitting when I stopped. But then, I took this kind of stuttered two-step move, kind of like a 2-1/4 step thing. I stopped and Tooey sat. Now what to do? I could go back and start the station all over, or I could gamble and just keep going.

I gambled, took my three steps, with Tooey staying with me the whole time. I did my last halt, she did her last sit, and since that was our last station, we just left the ring. I only had to wait a moment or two to see my qualifying score, and breathe again.

I am so pleased — it’s been a great couple of weekends. Last weekend, Tooey’s championship and this week her Rally Novice title. Now we can get to work on retrieving ducks!

Oh, and by the way, Tooey also got Best of Opposite Sex in the conformation ring today, just behind the AKC’s #1 IWS, Keegan.

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