Indomitable

Today, the Canadian Kennel Club’ letter of congratulations and our Grand Championship Certificate arrived in the mail.

I’m so proud of this little girl…

In less than four years, she has achieved her Grand Championship in conformation, Novice Rally titles in AKC and CKC, Pre Companion Dog, and Agility Dog of Canada titles. 

All this while being the sweetest Schipperke, ever entertaining and lovable.

Just twelve days ago, Ruby was blindsided as she made her way towards a show ring, when a very large dog slipped out of his handler’s control and attacked her.

I was so shaken by this experience on so many levels.

Today, I am grateful that she is alive and is recovering like the champion she is.

She’s an indomitable little Schipperke.

The unthinkable

I rose at 5 AM, excited, bathed my dog, tossed my toothbrush into my over-packed car, and headed to the ferry, bound for the dog show.  A weekend of fun lay ahead, testing our skills in the ring, playing games and maybe if all the planets lined up just right and I didn’t kick over a Rally sign, getting a scrap of ribbon for our efforts.

I was not thinking that this would be the day my beautiful and kind Schipperke will be attacked by a big muscular dog, on our way to the ring.

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But it happened. The unthinkable.

Your guts might have tightened up when you read that.  Perhaps you quickly thought, thank goodness it’s never happened to me. I’m always super careful. And a dog show is not a common place for dog attacks. 

The unthinkable can happen to anyone, wherever there are dogs and people. 

Is there anything we can do to make it less likely to happen?

I wonder.

Our First Group Four

The grey sky was muddled with cloud, and the rain was determined. I’d chosen comfort over style, a rain jacket and boots over my ‘show attire’.
Ruby and I won our first Group Four under the careful scrutiny of the Australian judge, Diana Fenton, who assessed the dogs quickly and without ceremony.

She gave handlers very little time to stack their dogs, preferring to assess their structure with her hands and watch them move around the ring.

I was thrilled to be granted our first Group placement.

The next day, the skies were blue with promise. Here I am, wearing my show clothes and my very best “Give us that ribbon” face.

I love my Ruby.

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The right place

We planted this lovely clematis on the north side of a shed. I’d remembered my mother’s instructions that they liked to have their roots kept cool but had forgotten the part about them needing sunshine too. It languished, a fragile stick, flowerless.
Early this spring, we moved it to a pot on our deck. Roots are still cool but now the southern sunlight shines and we have been rewarded with amazing flowers.

Ruby’s (almost) four!

She was my first conformation dog, and I’ve learned so much!

I learned that…

It’s not as much about the conformation of the dog, as it is about the brushing, nail trimming, bathing, diet, training and your bond together.

It’s not as much about the dog as it is about the handler’s skills, knowledge, and attitudes.

It’s not as much about the dog and the handler as it is about the unique conditions of the day, the competition, and the judge.

It’s not as much about the dog as it is about luck.

It’s not as much about the dog, handler, conditions of the day and luck, as it is about love.

Enjoy her birthday video.

Winning!

My life offers me many epiphanies, bolts from the blue and similar “oh my Dawg” moments. Sometimes, they stick with me and change me for the better. Other times, I nod and smile at Life’s lovely face and say ‘ I got it’ but She usually knows better.

Winning is obviously one of Life’s pleasures. Succeeding, nailing it, scoring big…these things feel scandalously awesome and are meant to be thoroughly enjoyed and never minimized.

Recently, Ruby and I won a Best in Show at a United Kennel Club dog show. I am unabashedly proud of that.

However, I didn’t learn a damn thing.

And there’s my epiphany.

I’ve always been a bit shy about making friends with Life’s best mate, failure. He intimidated me.  I just couldn’t warm up to him. So I usually do my best to avoid him and try not attract his attention at all. A strategy which is doomed to…failure.

Yesterday, after I experienced a nice, plump hunk of dog training failure,  I gathered up the shards of my confidence. I turned them over in the light, admiring their rainbow reflections as I built my new plans. That’s when it came to me.

I have never learned a damn thing from winning. As tasty as it is, it’s just the icing on a rich thick cake that’s layered and layered with spicy sweet failures.

I think I’m warming up to Mr. Failure.

He’s starting to look like a real dreamboat.

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