AKC Dog Shows - Into The Fray - The Results
Well, this is the follow up to my hub "Once More, Into The Fray... Again" I wrote a week ago or so. Today, we recap how our Lab Misty Woods Ducks On The Pond (Duckie) did this weekend. Saturday first!
I went to the New Exhibitor Meeting at 8:30 AM on Saturday, November 3. There were two other exhibitors present, neither of which was showing Labradors. One was showing Bloodhounds; the other an Australian Terrier, I believe. This is a breed I haven't heard of so far. The person from the AKC, Gina Weisler, was very helpful, informing us of the rules and regulations of the show, and how the show would play out. She answered those questions we thought to ask (there were many running through my mind that never found the on ramp to my mouth, so went unanswered), and gave us advice on how to proceed. She also pressed home the point that this was supposed to be fun! Although some people used the shows to put bread on the table (her words), we as new to the ring handlers need to remember this was for us to enjoy with our dogs. A good thing to remember.
My wife and youngest son arrived a bit later, and we walked around the show looking at different dogs, and watching what went on in the ring. It is very interesting to see the different breeds and sizes and handlers, and to watch how they act with the dogs and judges. I will tell you, I became just a bit intimidated. Read: I got scared. When it came our turn, Duckie and I entered the ring to compete in the Puppy category. As he is still under 18 months, he is eligible for that. We won the Puppy division, getting a First Place Blue Ribbon. But we did not do well in the Winner's Dog (male) category, losing out. So, our day was done.
Sunday dawned, and the chest cold I have been battling the last few days was kicking my butt. My chest was rattling, and I had a hard dry cough. My youngest son felt my head and said "Daddy, your head is hot." Not a good beginning. I went to the store and bought some severe cough and cold meds, and started in. A cup of steaming hot tea, and a hot bath did little to relieve the pressure or the cough. I left to take Duckie out anyway, as we had paid the entry fee so I may as well try. Popping one cough drop after another, I tried to not cough.
We arrived at the show and parked near our ring. The Sporting Group was showing outside, so we set up our chairs, and I leashed Duckie and took him for a walk, as much for him as for me. He did a number one, and later a number two. I felt confident that this near to the show time, he would not need to do anything further, so we went inside to watch a few dogs and to see our fellow Tri State Kennel mates. When the trainer who first helped with Duckie saw him, she came over to say hello. She had not seen him for about ten months, and was surprised at how big he had grown. He wiggled and enjoyed her petting him, then promptly turned, hiked his leg, and peed on my foot!!!
I was shocked. He had never, ever done anything like this and I was both upset and discouraged. I took him outside and back to our area. I cleaned my foot and pant leg up as best I could, and waited for my wife and son to arrive. I almost called it quits right then, I was so upset. But when my wife arrived, she calmed me down and we stayed, but I had no hopes of anything today. When we were called to the ring, we went. We won Best 12 to 18 Month Puppy again; another Blue Ribbon. When we re-entered the ring for Winner's Dog, we were up against the same dogs as yesterday. When the judge looked hard at Duckie, and then looked at him again, I still had no hopes. We went around the ring once, then twice. On the second round, I stepped into a small hole (we were showing outside), and stumbled. I almost went to the ground, but recovered and hobbled around on a turned ankle the rest of the day. But after we went around the ring for the third time, and he pointed at me and called "Winner's Dog", my jaw literally fell wide open, and I did a surprised double take. We won! He was the Best Male Labrador! He won over a Champion Lab who won yesterday!!!
We were back in the ring for a third time, this time going for Best of Breed. We fell short, but still received Best of Breed - Opposite Sex. A female Lab won, who is already a Champion Labrador, and we took second place. If I am not mistaken, Duckie earned his very first points in an AKC event today. We have taken our first steps towards that magical goal of Champion. What a day!
But the day was not over for my family. At home, we were relaxing and talking about our day, when our youngest came running in very excited. "Come on! Outside! You gotta see it!" Completely flummoxed, we ran outside to see what he was talking about. Down the street we saw through the trees a hot air balloon. "See! Look, isn't it cool?!" I went back inside and got my camera, and asked my son if he wanted to get closer and take some pictures. Of course, he said yes. So into my Jeep we went, and down the street towards the balloon. When we got closer, we saw a truck pulling a trailer marked "Balloon Chase Truck". We followed it, and after about two miles, we ended up on a road near a field, and watched the balloon descend. Parking the Jeep, we got out and walked closer, snapping pictures all the way. My son was smiling from ear to ear at being so close to the balloon. Then, the unimaginable happened.
The man in the basket asked "Hey, would you like to go up?" to my son.
He became shy, and shook his head. I pleaded with him, saying this was a once in a lifetime chance; but still he shook his head.
The man then looked at me, and said "How about you?" I said no, that I was okay. "Maybe your son will go up if you do." I looked at my son and said "Please! Will you go up if I go?" After a moment, he grinned and said "Yes!"
We climbed into the basket and settled in. The man said we were only going up a short ways, as he was just positioning the balloon better in order to bring it down and deflate it. I nodded my head, and after a few seconds of the burners being lit and a loud roaring in our ears, we became lighter, then up we went. I know it was only maybe fifteen feet, but we were up in a hot air balloon!!! My son was grinning from ear to ear, and when we settled back down, they gave us a card with the balloon on it and some facts about it.
As we got back into the car, he was still hopping and yelling about how fun it was. Then, he turned to me and said "Daddy, this is the best day ever!" Thinking back on the day, from me waking up with the cold, to Duckie peeing on me, to winning three ribbons, to being aloft in the balloon with my son, I readily said "Son, I think you are right. This is the best day ever!"