Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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What a weekend!

First I got up at 4:00 AM on Thursday so I could give little Kenya a Dramamine an hour before putting her in the car. I had Pippa, Adora and Kenya loaded up and ready to go at 5:05 and got to my friend Deb’s house in St. Louis by 6:30 AM (and I arrived exactly on time, which was satisfying). After a flurried fifteen minutes or so, we had three people and six dogs loaded in Deb’s SUV and were on the road again, heading for the Indianapolis Cavalier specialty. It was a pretty small specialty this year, about a hundred twenty Cavaliers total.

We got to Indy just in time to get to Pat Lander’s handling seminar, except I was late because somebody told me the seminar was starting an hour later than it had been listed (they were wrong! Oops!) But that did mean my girls got a good walk before I had to leave them in the room again.

So I was showing Kenya and Adora in conformation — that’s the beauty contest part of a show — and both of them plus Pippa in Rally Obedience and Pippa in formal obedience.

Everybody qualified in every obedience event — Pippa did GREAT, especially since it’s been two years since I showed her in formal obedience. Oh, she was FANTASTIC. She did swing just a bit wide on the off-lead about turn, and the first sit? She walked around me and looked at me like I had two heads. Sit? What?

But everything else was great, including all the other sits. She had a rock-solid stand for exam and she did the group sits and downs like she never even dreamed of the possibility of breaking a stay (which is not true!)

And the Rally was fun. Kenya was dreadfully distracted the first day, but she did okay. The other two are more experienced and take whispered commands and hand signals and they were wonderful. Deb got High in Trial l with her girl, though, and the highest any of mine got was second place! Oh, well.

The Conformation show was Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but I showed my girls only Saturday and Sunday because that way I got to watch all the classes on Friday, whereas if you’re too busy yourself, you miss seeing the other dogs, you know? I was especially interested in the ruby boys because I need to think about who to breed Adora to next year. There were some wonderful dogs there.

The quality at this show was quite high, much higher than the average quality at an AKC show. There were any number of classes where you’d sit there and think: Well, this will be tough for the judge, every dog in there is nice. Usually at an AKC show, there are some decent Cavaliers and one or two that are rather nice and maybe one very good dog, plus unfortunately a couple that are just dreadful. (When my young Dara won her first points a few weeks ago, I told people there were ten girls entered but three didn’t count. Sorry, but it was true!)

It’s such a shame to see a dog with terrible structure because you know the poor dog won’t be able to enjoy hiking or jogging or even chasing squirrels, not for very long anyway. Most likely it’ll injure its legs or back, most likely sooner than later, and then the poor dog may be in pain for the rest of its life. Weak pasterns or slipping hocks are bad, straight shoulders are bad, a roached back is very bad (especially if the dog is roaching because it’s already in pain), straight stifles are terrible — all of those things are common and they all mean trouble for the dog as it ages. That’s why structural soundness is so important.

So the judge on Saturday was the UK Cocker breeder Frank Kane. Now, Frank Kane is a pretty famous name in some circles. He’s a very well known, highly respected “all rounder”, which means he judges all breeds. He’s set to judge Best in Show at Crufts next year, which is a huge big deal, and he’s an internationally renowned expert on structure and movement. He lectures on the topic — he gave a lecture at our show on Saturday, which was great — and he wrote Judging The Gundog Breeds, which I may buy now because after Saturday I’m a big fan!

He gave my Kenya first in her class and he told me later how much he loved her topline and movement! And this was the day when she WOULD NOT cooperate with me and was flighty and refusing bait and generally HORRIBLE. But when she stands, she stacks herself — I can’t take credit for setting her up, not on Saturday, she was refusing even steak! — and she moved all right, I guess, at least at the important times when Kane was looking at her.

Go, Kenya!

She won a nice silver bowl. It’s the kind of trophy where you have her name engraved on it and pass it on to the winner of the Graduate Puppy class next year, and her name will go right on there with the names of some REALLY nice puppies. Yay for Kenya!

Unfortunately the obedience took place kind of consecutively with the end of the conformation show and I missed my chance to get a win photo with the judge. Oh, I could cry! But I will post a picture of Kenya and her trophy tomorrow.

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