Or, “how to be inept in the ring.”
As a little background, YOU NEVER WANT TO BE AWARDED THE WAND. A group of us have an award we pass around to each other at shows when we do something spectacularly dumb. It’s called the glitter wand and it’s covered with shiny things on the theory we only do something stupid when distracted by something shiny. We are all armchair quarterbacks while watching others in the ring, but there are definitely some days when there is a “wand worthy” mistake.
The wand has been earned by not paying attention to the judge and having to be pointed at three times to understand you won the class, but it also extends outside of the show ring. A wand worthy action this weekend was walking from the hotel to the gas station in 10 degrees in your jammies to get coffee, standing in line to pay and only realizing when getting to the counter that the card in your pocket is not money, it is your room key.
Another wand worthy event at a lure coursing field trial was allowing a bitch 62 days pregnant with 10 puppies to get out of an x-pen and run out onto the field in the middle of a course. That one got everyone going – umpteen people screaming and manically chasing the fast moving, goat shaped whippet with puppies bulging through the crowd and onto the field. Have you ever caught a whippet by chasing it? Really?
It was the Des Moines show weekend and my 15 month old male took his fourth major on Saturday to finish. We were exactly on a major, so if I moved him up to a special for Sunday, the major would break. All the other exhibitors preferred that I leave him in the classes to hold the major and they would take their chances he could potentially win. I was completely willing – what goes around, comes around. But, I was stressed. I don’t want to sound full of myself, but if he won on Saturday, he could potentially win again on Sunday and that major would be wasted, depriving others of points. Ugh.
Sunday dawns and I’m going to do my best to earn the wand while showing Retro. I am channeling the memory of every inept, stupid thing I’ve ever done in the ring to make sure he doesn’t take the points. Luckily, there were two in the class and the other dog was first. We walked into the ring and “stacked” our dogs. In my case, I walked into the ring and simply stood there, pretending to not pay attention. The judge tells us “move your dogs”. Retro has lovely movement when he’s at the proper pace, so I go as slow as I can, letting him drop his head to look dumpy.
This judge was a big time professional handler in his day, so I’m worried that he might catch on. I’m in the bred by class, so it’s fair for him to think I’ve been around for a while and expect me to be a decent handler and be able to show off my dog’s good points.
It’s my turn to put my dog on the table. I dump Retro like a sack of potatoes with all the finesse of a first time handler and do nothing to stack him other than to roughly put his feet where they should be. A friend outside very inelegantly described it as looking like “I pooped him onto the table”. I don’t steady his head or try to show his neck and outline. I just stand there trying not making to eye contact with the judge. The judge gives me a disapproving look and as he goes over the dog, proceeds to stack him properly and then stands back to look at him. As I put him on the floor for his individual movement, he tells me in a stern voice that he wants me NOT to use the pace I took him around the first time. That he wants me to MOVE the dog.
Drat. Now what? Well, in my best idiot fashion I pretend to do what he says. My feet are going twice as fast as the first time, but covering less ground. I must have looked like a Min Pin prancing around the ring with my knees practically hitting my chin, trying to look like I’m moving a million miles an hour. Meanwhile, a bewildered Retro is just frumping along with me at a snail’s pace. The judge tells us both to take our dogs around and again in a stern voice tells me specifically to MOVE OUT. I continue frumping along and even with me doing my best imitation of the worst handler ever, he pulls me to the front of the line. Oh geez, now what? Thankfully on the last go around he gives up in frustration and puts the other nice bred by dog back at the front of the line and awards the ribbons.
As he hands me the ribbon, he lectured me on how to move the dog in the ring. Seriously lectured me. I put on my best deadpan, newbie handler face and thanked him sincerely. Several times.
Now I have to drop the idiot act and show my other dogs and and hope he doesn’t hold it against me. My open bitch behaved well and took second. My special was a little dumpy this day but managed a select. Thankfully, earning a select on a bitch put me at the end of the line for ribbons and I had a moment to chat with him as he handed me the ribbon. Since I may show to him again in the future, I didn’t want him to remember me as the inept handler that made him mad. I simply said “I owe you an apology – the dog you tried so hard to see finished yesterday and my friends wanted me to leave him in to hold the major.” He blinked, paused, and with me fearing the worst that he was angry at my shenanigans, instead he laughed and patted me on the shoulder as he handed me the ribbon and told me he was glad I said something, as he really liked the dog. Phew!
I never thought I’d be so proud to earn the wand.
If you’d like to see Retro, click here for his page.