Send a Message
|2 0 0 3 - 2 0 1 4|
Lucky Number Six
“You’re going to have to travel,” Debbie told me, when I said I thought we’d never get the majors. For a championship, you have to get two major wins.
So we went to Fort Worth. Two days, two majors. It was a nice show: good site, good concessions, good judges, everything. Everything except a win. In a good-sized field, there were two bitches to be reckoned with: Hoochie Mama, always a threat, and Tina’s new dog.
Hoochie was a great dog, but we had beaten her as often as she had beaten us. Tina’s dog turned out to be big and strong and beautiful. Saturday, in fact, Tina’s dog won. We were second, Hoochie third. That night Craig and I shook our heads. Was there any way we’d beat Tina’s dog on Sunday? Then we did! But Hoochie beat us both, and we had two red ribbons. I’d been hoping for at least one win, and I was disappointed. Why no luck? Of the three dogs to beat, two won. We beat both the other two.
“There isn’t anyone we haven’t beaten,” I complained to Craig afterwards, ringside. “We just haven’t ever beaten all of them at once.”
“Think about Denton,” Anna said.
Hoochie’s owner Irene said she’d be there, so I entered us as soon as I got home. If we had to travel, we’d travel.
I always entered early. Anna chaps me for it. Everybody else waits to the last minute, jockeying to see who’ll be there before they put their money down. I lose a lot of money entering shows that don't pan out, but I like to grab the lowest catalog number, usually number six for Open Bitches. Craig calls it lucky number six. Weegie jumps on the table unassisted, and I like to make sure the judge sees her do it. She is usually the only dog who can.
Then, unexpectedly, Craig had to go out of town. When he got his airline tickets and told me the dates, I looked at the calendar and did a double-take. It was the weekend of the dog show at Denton. If I went, I would go alone.
I would just as soon have stayed home. The weather finally had turned nice, the yard was green and blooming, and the water in the pool was warm enough for swimming. But I’d been clamoring for a major, and there’d be one on Sunday. If I pulled out, the major would collapse, and I would ruin it for everybody else.
With Craig gone the week before the show, I had to use half a day of leave to groom. I didn't mind. I love to groom. It’s Craig’s role on our team, but when he’s not there and I do it, I love it. Weegie likes it, too. She turns this way and that while I brush and spray and blow. I bathed her that Friday afternoon and blew her out to a fine bloom. She looked great, but it was only Friday. She really needs a fine touch on the day she shows.
Saturday was not going to be a major. It would be just us and Hoochie, if we both showed up. I was not about to go up Friday afternoon and stay in a hotel for a shot at one point and a possible no-show. I knew Hoochie didn’t need Saturday either.
“You never know,” Anna wrote in a last-minute email. “There’s a major in males both days.” If we could beat the Winners Dog, even with no competition in females, we’d have a major on a crossover.
“Fat chance,” was my reply. I don’t know why, but judges hardly ever seem to put a female up over a male. They say it’s the coat. Anna was showing Bear, a perfect little mini. He had won both days in Fort Worth. I was betting he’d be Winners Dog both days this weekend, too.
So I left in the dark Saturday morning, figuring to get there within 30 minutes to an hour of the ten o'clock ring-time, if all went well. If not, so what? I’d stay the night and be there for the major on Sunday.
The drive was easy, but I missed the last turn. I thought I’d get there at 9:30, but by the time I recovered from the extra miles it was almost 10. I knew we had two breeds ahead of us (and the class dogs in our breed), but I was still rattled by the time I got parked. It was hot and dusty. Weegie was upset and hungry. It was all I could do not to lock the keys in the car.
In fact, I was having a mental car wreck. I thought, I have to put on my jacket. Other side. Hanging in the back. Unlock. Get jacket. I had Weegie on a leash in one hand. Close the door and fumble into the jacket, all hot and sticky. Where were the car keys??? In my purse, please, in my purse. Here. Need the basket with the bait and the brush and the show lead. In the trunk. Here. Close the trunk. Where were the car keys??? In my purse. No!! In my bag. Whew. What ring were we in? Need the judging program. In the back seat. Where were the car keys??? In the bag. Unlock. Ring 2. Lock up. Where were the car keys??? Here.
This went on probably not more than three minutes. To an observer, a somewhat overweight, flush-faced exhibitor struggled into a jacket in a panic, opening and slamming doors over and over with one of those detestable barking spitzes on a short lead. It was the kind of display that Craig might have watched with wondering disgust, saying, “Look at that crazy woman. She’s standing there slamming doors and whirling around in place. She keeps taking her keys out and putting them back in her bag.” I could just hear him.
At last I had everything. I was sweltering, and Weegie was nuts. We headed inside, where there was no place, no time, to groom. We would show with yesterday’s coat. Neither one of us could calm down. As we got to the ring, Bear was going Winners Dog. Then it was our turn. I saw Hoochie Mama waiting by the gate. The steward was calling for us.
Lucky number six. We lined up first and went around. Weegie levitated to the table and stamped her feet one, two, three, four. The judge took her head in his hands and said, “Hello, Gorgeous.” Weegie rounded back her ears and made a squinty-eyed sweet-face at him. As soon as he was finished with her teeth, I distracted her with treats. Weegie has been known to warn a judge who spends too much time in her skirts.
When she jumped down, she started barking. She barked at Hoochie Mama and the world, mad because she was hot and hungry, far from home, and Craig wasn’t with us. She spun out of control on the out, so I had to stop and restart. Halfway back the judge met us, caught Weegie’s eye and then sent us around. On the last go-round he gave us the nod. Barks and all, we were winners bitch.
I thanked the judge when I got the ribbon. “I apologize for that outburst,” I said breathlessly, but he wasn’t listening.
In Best of Breed it was Gambler, Bear and us.
“I want to see all three, one by one, on the table.”
He examined first Gambler, then Bear. Both minis, they were lifted to the table, first the special, then the Winners Dog. Then it was our turn. Weegie sailed up, and the judge spun away on his heel. Blowing us off? Or mind made up?
Around we went again, and then he pulled us out with Gambler, saying “Stand them both on the mat.”
I was thinking wildly, have we beaten Bear? It would be the next day before I’d realize he was looking at us for the breed. Gambler calmly stacked, and I said, “Weegie, stand.” She fidgeted and sat.
The judge turned to Gambler. “Best of breed.” Then he gave us a nod and walked away saying, “Winners. Best of Opposite.”
At the gate he handed me a ribbon I had never held before. It was blue and white: Best of Winners. We had won the crossover. We had a major.