Friday, March 19, 2010

The Barking, the Incessant BARKING

This weekend marks one of the largest dog shows in North America, the Kentuckiana Cluster in Louisville. I was quite pleased to note that there are 49 Smooth Fox Terriers, the breed I used to own and handled as an emergency substitute a couple of times in both Louisville and Lexington. Smooths are far rarer than Wire Foxes, the cuddly little monsters who should be sold with a set of track shoes- Sherman, our one and only Wire, could've probably outrun the Concorde.

Through this show, I've observed some of the top people in the dog show world, including a couple of the foremost terrier people who've ever lived. I'm told that Mrs. Winifred Stout, who is a Fox Terrier legend, will be there this weekend; we have corresponded in the past about Fox Terrier Rescue. When I was a little girl, I met Peter Green, the other terrier legend, and I've never forgotten that he made time to speak to me every year. Bill Cosby and William Shatner have their dogs exhibited in Louisville (both own various terrier breeds, concentrating primarily on Lakelands in the last twenty years or so).

This is not some regional fly-by-night- it occupies an entire wing of the state fairgrounds for five days by main force every March.

There are some things of which you need to be aware if attending your first dog show. I'm not trying to patronize you, but I'm saying this because professional handlers can be a bit stressed out:

  • Do not EVER pet a dog in the grooming areas without express permission from the handler.
  • Watch where you put your feet. Poop happens!
  • Try not to be offended if a handler ignores questions if you're just outside the ring. This is their job and their livelihood depends on remaining totally focused.
  • You might get yelled at by a handler or an assistant for no reason. It's not you. Trust me.
  • Take some allergy pills with you. There's a lot of doggie dander in the air.
  • Wear comfortable, closed shoes. You're gonna be on concrete for hours, and again, poop happens.
  • Take plenty of money. If you're a dog person, it's like landing in shopping mall heaven. Also, the food is expensive at the venue.
  • Keep your children under strict, direct control at all times. There will be thousands of dogs and around ten thousand or so people at any given moment. You don't want your child to get bitten or go missing.

For those of you with a sense of humor, you might want to sit down and watch Best In Show beforehand, too. While it's hysterically funny, it's not too far off the mark. If you've spent any time on the circuit, you'll know how close it hits to home.

A show is a great opportunity to learn about the various breeds as well. If you are considering a purebred dog, locate someone who is showing that breed and try to engage them, if they have a little downtime, about the breed. They live with these dogs 24/7, 365, so they'll be able to answer your questions. You can learn all about temperament, grooming costs, health issues, suitability with children, et cetera, plus you can actually look at live examples of almost every AKC registerable breed.

I will be in the foyer with my rescue, Airedale Terrier Rescue and Adoption, Inc. , probably on Sunday. If I'm not there, two of our other coordinators, Bob Seis and Sandra Mauk, will be on hand if you're interested in adopting an Airedale from us. Stop by and say hello if you decide to attend the show!

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