Welcome, everyone, to Pens, Paws and Claws! I’m so pleased to be a part of this group – Thank you ladies, for inviting me to play!
Among the many things I’ve done for fun in my life, one of the most fun and most enduring was showing my dogs. I’ve raised, trained and shown dogs for a looooong time (not tellin’ how long ’cause it’ll show my age! Ha!) I was privileged to get to show my Dalmatians as well as to take other breeds in the ring for friends. I think that’s why almost every book I write has a dog in it. Oh, there are cats too, I love cats as well, but dogs hold my heart.
I started out with a Dal who was always the bridesmaid and never the bride – we got so many second place ribbons, and Best of Opposite Sex ribbons, I could have wallpapered a room with them. Her name was Ch. Ivy Lea’s Russet Herald, call name Talia. That’s her going best of breed under a fabulous judge who loved her because she was exactly what he thought we should have in the breed – drive and movement, shoulder, and great temperament. (For those of you who don’t know, Dalmatians went through a period when the movies came out, where they were NOT known for good behavior or temperament! Then they were overbred and got to where they couldn’t do what they were bred for – running!)
Once she “went breed,” as they say, she was set. She then went Best in Show, garnering that ribbon pictured up above. What a night that was! Wow! I’ll never forget it because those were Talia’s very first points toward her championship.
There was, however a lot of controversy about her because she went Best in Show over some very, very highly ranked dogs. People were NOT happy.
There was tension, angst, and oh-so-much-gossip! Was I sleeping with the judge? (Ugh, no!) Was there a payoff? (Hardly, I was NOT in the money!) What on earth could have made the BIS judge pick THAT dog!?!?!
It makes me laugh now, to think about it, but as with any kind of pageant or beauty contest, there comes drama. As I writer, I totally appreciate drama…
Now, every breed–and every dog show!– has it’s idiosyncrasies, and that’s part of the fun of raising and showing purebred dogs. Even if you know nothing else, you probably know that Goldens and Labs are popular and easy going, great with kids, and with a nearly insatiable desire to fetch. German Shepherds are watch dogs, as are Rottweilers, and an Old English Sheepdog is about as fluffy and furry as a shag rug.
Another part of the fun of dogs, both at home and in the show ring, is the people who own them. Comedian Steven Wright quips, “If people look like their dogs, who changes?” Snork! I love that. I sincerely hope I DON’T look like my dogs since one of them looks like a mop, and the other has a grey muzzle. Ha!
Recently, I began to consider doing a mystery series set around dog shows. I’m getting back into that world after a considerable hiatus. (Having kids who play sports kinda puts the kibosh on other expensive hobbies!) About ten years ago now, we adopted an Irish Water Spaniel from a rescue. His name was Diver (He’s the brown one in the multi-dog picture up above!) and he was absolutely fabulous. When we lost him, too young, at 12, we did our grieving and began to discuss that maybe an Irisher puppy would be just the thing.
Last January, in a snowstorm, we welcomed Tucker, O’Morns Trouble on the Line at Ivy Lea. (That’s him with me in the chair) He’s not hit the show ring yet, but he has everything he needs to be a success. I’m excited to jump back into showing, not only to show, but to immerse myself in the show dog world and see if it’s a place I want to set some stories.
What do you think? Would you read mysteries set in the dog show world?
Do you watch the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show every February?
If so, do you root for your breed, or just enjoy?
That’s Tucker to the right. Our Lab, Mia, is from Lab Rescue here in the DC area, so if you’re missing having a dog, and are in the DC Metro, look into Lab Rescue and find a friend!