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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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Three stories from this weekend at the Gig Harbor Kennel Club show in Shelton, Washington (told in reverse chronological order). It’s true: Good things can happen at dog shows.

“Did something just happen?” the judge asked

In the dog show ring today were two 14-point bitches and one other bitch that has a couple of points. This show was worth 1 point, and if one of those 14-point bitches won, that bitch would have the 15 points needed to “finish.” In other words, get her Champion title.

And indeed, after showing outside, in the rain, on slippery grass, one of the 14-point bitches won it. Kassie, the older one, the one who has been trying for many, many months to get that one last point, took her finishing point.

We three handlers erupted into cheers, smiles, pats on the back, and hurrahs. The judge, perhaps not very accustomed to losers being so happy, asked, “Did something just happen?” We all chimed in at once, “She just finished!” The judge smiled, and gesturing at the pouring rain, said, “Well, this is the perfect weather for finishing an Irish Water Spaniel. Congratulations.”

What was also strange is that this morning, when I woke up, I knew Kassie was going to win. I could see the judge giving Jill, Kassie’s handler, the ribbon. I tried very hard and several times to re-visualize this, to see myself running effortlessly around the ring, Tooey floating along side me, and the judge pointing at Tooey for the win. But no matter how many times I tried this, the vision always ended with Kassie getting the nod.

So, when Kassie actually did get it, I wasn’t particularly shocked. And I was happy — I have wanted this for Jill for awhile. Of course, I was disappointed that Tooey didn’t win — I would love to be finished.

But I can hold two contradictory ideas in my head at one time. And, as I have been told many times, Tooey’s championship will come.

Falling asleep holding “hands”

Tooey and I spent Saturday night on one of Jill’s very comfortable guest beds. Out in the country, where Jill lives, there is almost no light at night, and it’s very quiet. Both of us were ready for sleep. Showing in the dog show ring, getting groomed (again!), and running around playing ball with the other dogs had tired Tooey out. I was simply tired from having gotten up at 5:30 a.m. to prepare us both for the ring, and knew I’d be getting up the next morning at 5:30 again to do it all over again.

We were both lying on our sides, bellies facing each other, when Tooey pawed gently me a couple of times. I reached out to pet her and tell her good night, when she simply placed her paw in my hand. I laid my hand down on the bed, and her paw stayed cradled in my palm. I could feel the heat and the roughness of her pads. We feel asleep like that, paw in hand.

If this had been a movie, and my sleeping partner a human instead of a dog, it would have been one of those romantic “awww…” moments. As it was, it was simply sweet. It’ll be a memory I carry with me a long time.

Now a member of the 1-point club

The Gig Harbor Kennel Club dog show, like many weekend-long dog shows, is actually two shows. Tooey had gotten her 13th point just a week prior, at the Wenatchee show, and I had a chance to finish her this weekend if Tooey could win both shows.

The past week has been hell. I was stressed, I really wanted to finish, and none of the people who frequently help me groom were available. I’m not a great groomer, but I remembered Colleen telling me (to my shock) that it’s not unusual for person who’s going to show an Irish Water Spaniel to do a little grooming every night before a show. That gives the groomer the chance to see the effect after the dog has moved around and the fur has fallen into place.

So that’s what I did. I put poor Tooey up on the table for an hour every night last week. Each time, I asked Russ to help me see where it was uneven, or not matching from side to side, or too long, or the wrong shape, or … He’s not a groomer, either, but he’s got an artistic eye, and he’s watched some great IWS groomers do their stuff many times over. He caught a lot of areas that needed work, and I appreciate it.

Finally, about an hour before I had to leave to get to Jill’s house, where I was staying the night before the show, I just had to stop. I decided that Tooey looked good enough to show without my being humiliated.

And then the gods smiled on me. When I did get to Jill’s house, I found that Jayme, the groomer who has worked on both Cooper and Tooey in the past, was also staying at Jill’s house. And yes, she said she’d take a look at Tooey.

So up on the table Tooey went. Jayme studied her for a few minutes, and then looked up, and said, “You did this?” I nodded. Hard to know where a question phrased this way is coming from.

Jayme walked around the table and surveyed Tooey a bit more. Finally, she said, “You did a great job.” I let out a breath.

And truthfully, Jayme didn’t do a lot more. She took off some more fur along the belly, where I hadn’t been brave enough with my scissors, she shaped a bit around the back of the back legs, and touched up some uneven spots on the front legs. But basically, she told me that I could have easily taken Tooey into the ring without her help.

“Wouldn’t it be funny,” Jayme asked, “if you finally got good at this just as you were finishing Tooey?”

Yeah. Funny.

Oh, and we did get the point on Saturday, bringing Tooey up to 14 points. Now she needs just 1 point, making her a member of the “1-Point Club.”

May Tooey’s membership be very short.

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Have you ever wished you knew what your dogs are thinking? Perhaps pictures tell us more than we might think.

A couple of days ago, I posted this picture of Cooper and Tooey. They’d both been freshly trimmed and groomed, all ready to go into the show ring.

What I also just noticed is that this picture also shows their general opinions about going into the show ring.

Tooey’s like, “Oh, good! The show ring. I can show off and look pretty, Trice will give me cookies, and everyone will look at ME!”

Cooper’s thinking, “Damn. The show ring. All that running around in circles and then standing still. For no good reason. And no ducks, neither. Grmph…”

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Sometimes the decisions judges make in the show ring make sense, and sometimes they don’t. When you lose in a ring where the judge’s choices don’t make sense, disappointment mixes with puzzlement to give the feeling of “So what am I supposed to do now?”

But when you win under a judge whose choice is puzzling, it’s still confusing, but much easier to take.

Winner's Bitch, Patrice, and Winner's Dog

That was my situation today. The judge picked both Cooper and Tooey to win. I’m happy about it, obviously, but sort of confused.

Cooper, Winner's Dog and Best of Winners, Stumptown Cluster, 2010

Cooper was the only dog in today’s show, so the judge had little choice but to give him Winner’s Dog. All by itself, there are no points in this situation because the dog had no other dog to compete against. A nice ribbon, but no points.

However, if a Winner’s Dog who has had no competition goes into the Best of Breed ring (in which the Winner’s Dog and Winner’s Bitch compete against each other), and takes Best of Winners over a Winner’s Bitch who has had some competition, then… Then that lucky dog gets the same number of points that the Winner’s Bitch got.

Got it?

Tooey, Winner's Bitch and Best of Opposite Sex, Stumptown Cluster, 2010

That’s what happened to me today. Cooper got Winner’s Dog, and then Tooey got Winner’s Bitch. In the Best of Breed ring, the judge then awarded Cooper Best of Winners. And since Tooey had competed against two other bitches to win Winner’s Bitch, she got a point, and so did Cooper.

But here’s the confusing part. Cooper and Tooey are both Irish Water Spaniels, but other than that, they are not alike.

Cooper has fine, curly, dark chocolate fur; fine bones and smallish feet; slightly rounded brown eyes; a low topknot; a nice big chest; good body proportions; and a very athletic gait. (He also — still — acts like a dweeb in the ring, refusing to stand still in the classic “stacked” position that best shows off a dog’s shape. Not to mention that I temporarily lost my mind in the ring with Cooper, running 1-1/4 times around the ring instead of the required 3/4 way around.)

On the other hand, Tooey has very thick, medium brown fur with orange tinges; some wave in her curl; large bones and big feet; somewhat slanted more-golden eyes; a high forehead; sometimes appears slightly longer than preferred; and a lovely flowing gait.

In almost everything except that they each have beautiful gaits, Cooper and Tooey are entirely different. So, here’s the puzzle: If the judge liked dogs like Tooey, why did she choose Cooper to be Best of Winners? And if she prefers dogs like Cooper, why did she choose Tooey for Winner’s Bitch instead one of the other bitches, which resemble Cooper more closely than Tooey does?

It’s a real puzzle. Not that I’m giving the points back, of course. I’ve worked long and hard to get this far (with a lot of help from my friends), and I’ll take every point I can get.

There’s one more part of the puzzle that may have occurred to you. If I handle both Cooper and Tooey, how did they compete against each other in the Best of Breed ring?

Today Russ came along, and he got drafted for his very first time in the show ring. He handled Tooey (who already had today’s Winner’s Bitch point), and I handled Cooper. We were gambling that Cooper might win Best of Winner’s if I handled him. Amazingly, the gamble paid off.

And the picture above, taken in the ring, during the Best of Breed competition? Once a photographer, always a photographer. It’s like my sweet husband can’t help himself. And as he pointed out, the judge wasn’t  looking…

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It’s always interesting and kind of disorienting to watch oneself on video. In real life, I can’t see my own facial expressions or posture, for one thing. And when I’m in the dog show ring, I can’t really see how my dog is moving. (Or I suppose I could turn my head so I can see her, but the one time I tried that, I lost my place in space, and ran squarely into the ring gates.)

This is why I am so grateful to Cat for taking these videos of Tooey and me at the Nisqually dog show last Sunday. I can see that in the very small rings they had there, Tooey never really got up to speed, and never really showed off her lovely gait and nice reach. I can also see that I didn’t stack Tooey quite right, so that the judge had to move Tooey’s front leg to get her into position.

Anyway, here are the two videos. First is the one of Tooey and me in the Open Bitches class (we were the only one), and then of all the bitches in the Winner’s Bitch competition. Molly, the bitch handled by Marty (the male handler) took Winner’s Bitch (darn it!).

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Well, if an emu is a bird, then yes. Tooey is birdy.

I could spend this post whining about Tooey’s not getting any points at the Nisqually Kennel Club show this weekend, but instead we can talk about the 7-mile walk, the emu, and turning back before sight of Puget Sound.

Teri, her husband Gary, and I took our Irish Water Spaniels, Maeve and Tooey, on a long walk along the Chehalis Western Trail, a former railroad bed, which heads north from about Lacey to the sound end of Woodard Bay in south Puget Sound. We think we walked about 7 miles along the paved, level trail, along wetlands, forest, ponds, and the occasional back yard.

One particular back yard had the above emu in it, who was happy enough to be observed from afar. But once Tooey got too close, he grunted (funny — that an emu would grunt), and moved away.

We walked about another 1/2 mile and then decided to turn back. We knew that if either Irish Water Spaniel were to actually see Woodard Bay, they would have nothing on their minds but swimming. As it was, it was all we could do to pull them away from the duck-filled ponds along the way. If this had been today, after all the shows were over, we might have kept on. But our walk was on Saturday, and neither Teri nor I could quite convince ourselves that we wanted to drag a muddy dog back to the car and then drive around a strange town looking for a dog wash.

Now, if they’d been Labs, we could have just hosed them off somewhere and been good to go. But if they’d been Labs, they’d have been somebody else’s dogs.

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I have been so blessed with a bevy of friends who are wonderul Irish Water Spaniel groomers: (in alphabetical order) Colleen, Jayme, Rebecca, and Tammy. Each one does a lovely job, and each one has a slightly different esthetic.

I have my own ideas, too, but I can’t bring them into reality like these ladies.

Tooey and I are going to yet another dog show this weekend, and I realized that one of the things I wanted this time was slightly more fullness on her chest. Tooey doesn’t really have much of a chest*, but a good groomer can sometimes create the illusion of one. So Colleen is magicking a chest on Tooey with comb and scissors.

As we saw a couple of weeks ago, grooming isn’t the most important factor in winning a dog show. But it doesn’t hurt, either.

* Later in the evening, after I’d published this post, Colleen called me to say that I should add “yet” as in “Tooey doesn’t really have a chest yet.” Tooey’s only 19 months old, and could still develop a chest. She has broadened somewhat already, so it’s possible. Only the proverbial time will tell.

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When we arrived at Colleen’s house this evening (she and Jack are very kindly hosting us this weekend while we go do Cooper’s first-ever hunt test), and she handed me this long-awaited picture.

Tooey wins Best of Opposite Sex

Here I’ve been waiting and waiting all these weeks for the picture. Only to find out that it had gotten sent to Colleen’s house. Argh!!

But I’m happy to have it now.

I posted about this win here (and added the picture there also).

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Much to my shock and delight, Tooey took Winners Bitch and Best of Opposite Sex today. I was so happy that I walked out of the ring, and straight into Colleen’s arms, crying.

Tooey wins Best of Opposite Sex

So, what was different today from yesterday? Here’s what happened today that didn’t happen yesterday:

  • An epiphany in the bathroom (more on that below).
  • A different judge.
  • Rescue Remedy and Vitamin B drops (thank you, Rebecca).
  • Frequent mental reminders to slow down, to get dressed in plenty of time, to breathe, to breathe, and to breathe.
  • Talking to Tooey while we were in the ring, telling her that she’s such a pretty girl.

Bathroom epiphany

While pulling on my panty hose, I started to imagine myself standing tall and smiling while in the ring. I saw myself looking happy and talking happily to Tooey as we went around and did the up and back. I imagined smiling at the judge and acting like I knew what I was doing.

In that moment, as I had these imaginings in the bathroom, I realized, “Wow, I’m actually smiling.” So, as a little test, I purposefully made myself stop smiling and then started up the imagining again. That made me actually smile again.

It was like I couldn’t help myself. Imagining smiling was making me smile. That seemed like a good thing, so I kept it up as I finished dressing, fetched Tooey, and walkd to the ring.

Perhaps, if I was right about yesterday, and my nervousness communicated itself to Tooey, perhaps my smiling and confidence communicated themselves to her and to the judge today.

As the judge was examining Tooey, he muttered to himself, “This is so hard.” I knew he was wavering between Tooey and another dog. I just stood there with Tooey and smiled. Maybe my epiphany was just enough to tip that balance.

Of course, when Tooey did win, I started crying. But I was smiling, too.

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