Saga of a woman old enough to know better who lets her life be governed by the ridiculous hobby of breeding and showing dogs, musing on life, the twenty first century, Cameron and his mini-me, and the occasional sheep.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A worthy winner indeed!


Yet another unusual show for me - judging a Chinese Crested one.

Now, at one time I was very active in the breed, but that was......well.... just a few years ago, so when I came into the hall the reception was a little strange. The exhibitors were divided into those who had never heard of me, and those had, and who gave me the same look of very wary awe you would give a large dinosaur you had just found munching the petunias in your border. (And a few old friends of my age...not so many of those, alas.)

It was lovely to be involved with so many Cresteds again. They are not at all like Papillons. They are gentle, happy, trusting little souls, very attached to their owner and often to other Cresteds, not too keen on public events, and much given to spontaneous song*. I can remember when I used to let my lot run outside, they would come and chorus outside the window of the room they supposed I was in. If I looked out of another window, the song would die, and they would give each other dirty looks - "That was you! You said she was in there! You`ve made us look silly!"

And on cold or wet days, when I opened the door, they would look at the weather, then at me - "Why have you made it rain?"

They were wonderful mothers. I can remember sitting beside a mother with a Crested litter, holding a little Papillon puppy whose mother had no milk, and wondering if she would foster. While I was still pondering on this, she suddenly reached out with her long neck, took the puppy from me, and put it in with hers. She then favoured me with a hard look - what was I thinking of, just sitting there, when puppy obviously needed milk?

Anyway, despite a heavy cold I had a good time, with a good entry of quality dogs. And I really enjoyed myself.

* not one of mine, but this clip really captures the spirit of the happy, musical Chinese Crested.
Crested song

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

One of my local deer, naturally elegant, and safe here

"Where`s my rabbit?"
Xena the mighty hunter in her younger days.


Autumn is here, with damp fogs and falling leaves, and the little stove, mercifully free of sootfalls or dead birds stuck up there (worst case scenario), is humming away. I just hope for a better winter than the last one.

The deer have not been affected by the last harsh winter, and are very active just now.

The rabbits were seriously hurt by the bad weather. They were above ground all day when we had the frozen snow cover, eating tree bark and a very visible target for the foxes, who did well. Some just died of starvation. But in the spring the survivors responded by doing the one thing rabbits are famous for, and doing it really often and really well, and now we are overrun. I have rabbit holes very near the house.

Last night old Xena didn`t come in, and that is not like her. I called and called, and at last found her, crouched beside one of the holes, very still, grinning all over her old grey face, and panting very gently. She gave me a knowing look. Knowing the taste of rabbit, that is. She has always been a mighty hunter, and has been the nemesis of many a bunny.

i remember the day she first saw the deer. Her eyes lit up like fire. "Damn big rabbits!"

She set off after them, a small black and white blur, and I laughed and called to her to bring us one back.

Some time later she walked back up the hill, covered in mud, her tongue hanging out to her knees. She grinned at me: "Damn fast rabbits, those big ones".

I suspect rabbit will be on her menu again before long. (She is welcome to it. Just after the war we ate so much rabbit - I can still see my mother flouring those endless rabbit joints- that it would take Escoffier come back from the dead to encourage me to eat it).

Meanwhile I am off to judge a Chinese Crested show - a breed I was once greatly involved with. It has been a while, so let`s hope my memory is good!

Monday, October 11, 2010

"Are you sure this really suits me?"

"Well, darling, it`s straight out of Vogue - and I trust my stylist implicitly"


Yet another show this weekend. With a difference.

A guinea pig show.

Really very different. The little creatures are kept in pens until their big moment arrives - then they are carried off out of sight to be examined carefully and privately by the judges. The others wait their turn in varied states of enthusiasm, ranging from those who greet you eagerly whistling for food, to those who are sitting very still wearing a huge "hat" of hay on their heads, the traditional guinea pig symbol for being Seriously Not At Home to whatever is going on.

I wondered what the others were thinking as they saw their neighbours being carried off. Let`s face it, you find guinea pigs (which are not pigs and do not come from Guinea) at the very bottom of the food chain. They are fully within their rights to be just a tad suspicious.

In fact, most of the ones I have met are gentle and quite confiding little things, with the most appealing expressions, and those little bright eyes can give the impression of thinking very Deep Thoughts, (although those who keep them assure me that said thoughts are usually revolving around broccolli or carrot.)

If you are getting the impression that I rather like guinea pigs (or cavies, as their Sunday name is), you are right. But I will not be keeping any.

Papillons have a word for guinea pig. That word is "snack". Their word for a collection of guinea pigs is "lunch".

Somehow I don`t think this would ever be a des res for cavies.

Monday, October 04, 2010

"Work in progress? Me? I was born perfect!!"


A very quiet month here.

Ella and Velvet should have had a few show appearances....but the two young ladies got together last month and looked at a few magazines and decided that these long flowing coats were SO last year, and had to be thrown away. Ella in particular has taken fashion to extreme and is now, frankly bald - and clouds of hair still falling out. I have spoken to her severely about the last horrible winter and the vagaries of fashion, and received a blank Chin stare as she shrugged out a few more hairs.

Fidget declines to behave. He prances and barks and is totally a naughty puppy.

At the weekend we had the wettest show I have ever attended. We shivered in a leaky marquee as the monsoon battered down. Nothing stayed dry. There were sudden, intense cascades of drips. Catalogues became soggy. There were no dry surfaces to sit on. I spent a lot of time trying to keep my camera dry. It was the ultimate tent experience - soaking outside, the same inside. (I am well known for hating tents).

Our ring was between Dalmatians and Schnauzers. Not the best situation. Fidget had to sit on my knee and acclimatise to the presence of these horrible things until his barking calmed down. Ella stared at the Dalmatians, her eyes as big as saucers. Could they be real? After some time she concluded that they were hallucinations (spots before the eyes) and went back to her usual show preoccupation - extracting titbits from nearby people by batting her eyelashes at them and doing extreme cute.

Her ring was in another storm-tossed marquee, across a sodden muddy swamp, and I could see us both sinking without trace, so we quietly gave up on that.

Fidget exhibited his usual split personality - standing like a rock when asked, the same on the table, but bouncing and barking on the move. He is definitely a work in progress. Slow progress.

As we slogged out slowly through the sticky mud, I could see all sorts of metaphors for the whole dogshowing business surfacing.....

But I am not about to subject anyone to those.

I pushed them firmly down, back into the mud.

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