April 10th, 2010

Bichon Freeze

TarryAllCowStall.jpgWe're at the Terry-All Kennel Club dog show at the Adams County Fairgrounds, just outside Thornton, Colorado, a suburb of Denver. And we're back in the cattle pens, just as we were at the big Denver dog show in February. The difference, of course, is that the cattle pens at Denver's National Western Complex are inside.

When we rolled into the fairgrounds at 8:30 this morning, the 4Runner's thermometer read 36 degrees. We brought light jackets only (the dogs have their fur coats) which was, well, a mistake. We are working in a grubby 9' X 12' cattle pen with an uneven dirt-and-manure floor, rolling steel-tube doors, and gappy wooden plank walls going up a hair over seven feet. Past that there's nothing but a freestanding tin roof another eight feet higher, complete with flocks of small birds roosting on the girders and dirty light fixtures that we (fortunately) do not need.

(The photo above was taken standing outside the red-painted barn entirely, looking in at our stall.) It was a cold, cold morning. Fortunately, we have a hair dryer, and every so often while blow-drying the no-rinse shampoo we have to use to get the day's dirt off of the Pack, we stuck the snout of the hair dryer into our jackets for a second or two. A chill wind blowing freely through the stall didn't help.

We now understand why Jesus was born between an ox and a ass. It was that or hypothermia.

It took until lunchtime for the sun to warm up the surroundings comfortably, and by then we were done. The guys were clean, fluffed, and expertly trimmed, and Carol took the quarter mile to the show hall carrying Jack, with me close behind, Aero and Dash each under one arm. If they had walked, they'd have been brown long before the quarter mile was over. (Anyone who has ever been to a county fair or a rodeo anywhere on the Great Plains will understand.)

Two people showing three dogs is an interesting exercise in logistics. Carol handled Aero and Dash in the first round (they being in different classes) and I handled Jack. As usual, Jack would not keep his tail up, and Aero beat him handily. Dash was no angel: We're not quite sure how but he squirmed out of his show lead and would have leapt off the judging table had Carol not grabbed a hind leg in time. He thus narrowly avoided disqualification, and being the only entry in the 9-12 month Puppy Dog class, won his class by default.

In the subsequent Winners Dog round, Aero was up against Dash and a beautiful older male puppy, who had earlier won the 12-18 Month Puppy Dog class. Aero won the round, and thus (having beaten three male bichons) got three points. And because for male bichons three points is considered major, Aero bagged his second major win, of the two required for championship. In the Best of Breed round, Aero was up against the Winner's Bitch and a male special (a previous champion competing for higher honors) and the special got it, afterward going on to Best of Group for Nonsporting. The special did not place in Best of Group, so at that point the bichon action was over, and we packed our stuff and toodled back to the hotel.

Aero clearly knows he's hot stuff, and has been lording it over Jack and Dash here in the room ever since. (QBit is taking it easy for the weekend back at Sunrise Kennels, as he does not compete.) All Aero lacks now are two more points. If he wins tomorrow as he won today, he'll go home a newly minted champion.

The tension is palpable. Tune in again tomorrow!