Saturday morning started out perfectly. We didn't have to leave until noon, so we had all morning to make list after list and pack for every possible scenario under the sun. Even to the point of stocking the book that I always carry with recent pictures, in case, Heaven forbid, we should somehow be separated. Yes, these are the lengths we went to, to be completely and fully prepared for our trip in every way imaginable.
It was a beautiful, sunny fall day. I brought Jean Donaldson's "Culture Clash" to read on the drive. Angus was napping peacefully in the back seat. All was well with the world. And then, I suddenly remembered. I sat bolt upright and asked, "Kevin! Did you put the red bag in the car?"
You know what he said, but I'll say it anyway: "I thought you put it in the car."
And so the hell began.
You may remember the red bag. It is my Outward Hound bag I got for Christmas last year. Whererever the boys go, it goes. To the lake. To the old neighborhood. To class. Everywhere.
I had spent at least an hour stocking it perfectly. It had Angus' choke collar, two options of show leashes, treats, a training dummy to throw after he performed, his food bowl, his water bowl, a towel to wipe him down. Oh yes. Everything you need for a dog is in the red bag. And it is sitting on top of their toy chest at home.
By some fantastic stroke of luck, Kevin had put his food and his hot dogs in our cooler. That we had. But everything else we needed was in the red bag. An hour and a half round trip to get it.
There was not time.
Several phone calls to Mom trying to locate a pet store on the way and a frantic last-ditch visit to Wal-Mart later, we were forced to lower our standards for what was really, absolutely necessary. I found a way-too-big choke collar, a plastic food bowl and a pitiful excuse for a leash at Wal-Mart. :-\ It would have to get us by today. Tomorrow we might have time to look for a PetsMart.
We honked down a couple of Subways on the way to the show. My friend Anna came out to see the choke collar, and said Angus looked like Mr. T. That cheered me up a little bit.
Well, as it turned out, we would have actually had time to go back for the bag. : Everything was running an hour and a half late. How's that for irony? Another twist: The Rally ring had been switched to the front of the building. After checking it out, I realized there was no way Angus could just "hang out" up there until time for him to go on. It was jam-packed with bodies, canine and human. It was also not likely we could navigate the gauntlet to come from the back of the building. So we made a decision to keep him in the car. Kevin wanted to listen to the ball game anyway. This seemed like it would stress him out the least. Then, after I did the run-through, I would come and get him, get him all excited and pumped full of hot dogs, and walk him into the ring at the very last second, so he would have no time to get derailed.
The Rally course was by far the easiest course I have ever seen or heard of. It was nuts. Right turn, left turn, slow, fast, a couple of 270 rights and a spiral (not necessarily in that order, but you get the idea). Oh my gosh. If we don't ace this, something is seriously wrong with us! I blew out of the walk-through early. It was that simple. There was no way to get lost. You'd have to suddenly be struck blind not to find your way out of this course. They are all things Angus and I could do blindfolded. Piece of cake!!
Things are going well with Angus' warm-up routine. He is well-rested thanks to his peaceful nap in the car, and ready for some hot dogs! I am number 409, so I have a few minutes to work with him outside, then in the lobby, then in the room adjacent to the rings. It is quiet and there are few distractions. Awesome!
Someone pokes their head in the room and lets me know that 407 is on now. OK, crunch time. I have quite a few hot dogs to rid myself of, so I stuff them all in my mouth and prepare to machine-gun fire them at Angus until I am called.
At the moment I fill my mouth with hot dogs, everyone starts shouting, "409! 409! 409!"
Somewhere along the line, we must have lost 408. I am next. And now, I have a mouth full of hot dogs. I start making my way through the thick crowd to the ring, chewing for all I am worth. As I chew, the hot dogs get bigger and bigger and bigger. You know how that goes. Now I realize that I cannot swallow all these hot dogs. What should I do? The judge is looking at me. I am chewing and feel the beginning stages of panic. What can I do? I'm going to choke on these hot dogs if I don't get rid of them. I am left with no choice: I spit them into my hand.
I can't put them in my pocket. I look around frantically for Kevin, but he is nowhere to be seen. There is no trash can, no shelf, no nothing. Just people, wall-to-wall. Suddenly, like a blessing from God himself, I see a hand thrust forward and hear a voice: "Give them to me!!"
I place the hot dogs that I just chewed to a greasy pulp in the disembodied hand and go into the ring.
Angus is ON. Full on. I have never, ever, seen him give a performance like this. He is looking right up into my face. I feel the panic melt away. We are going to make it. I hear ooohs and aaahs from the sidelines. Comments like, "Oh wow, look at that! Look at him!" Can this be possible?? Is this actually going to work??
We finish without a hitch. He is perfect. I am beyond thrilled. I give him a huge play-hug, and as I leave the ring I ask the crowd: "Who took those hot dogs for me???"
The ring steward raised her hand and grinned: "It was me!"
We embraced. I gave her a hug you usually only see given to soldiers returning from war. I am serious. I almost hugged her breathless. The crowd cheered and clapped. It was HILARIOUS. Neither of us could believe that had happened. I couldn't believe I would hand something out of my mouth to a complete stranger, and she was equally surprised at having taken it. She mentioned something about looking at the hot dogs after I went in and thinking, "I do not even know this person!" I laughed and told her I'd mail my shot records to the club next week. More laughter. SO funny.
So now, I go to look at our score. I'm thinking there is no way on this earth it would not be 100. Ahhhh, but there is a way apparently. The score is: 88.
Are you kidding me?? We watch the videotape. I am going ??? Kevin is going ??? Anna is going ???
Finally, when it's all over, I get to look at the judge's sheet. And do you know what it said? TWELVE, yes TWELVE, deductions for "tight leash."
I swear, the leash did not feel tight to me. Anna tells me that she remembers this guy from another trial, and he is an absolute stickler for tight leashes. That is his ONLY thing. You can do pretty much anything else under the sun, apparently, but you'd better have a nice "J" in your leash while you're doing it.
I guess I was tense from the whole hot dog episode, and lost my J. :'(
So now I'm thinking, this guy has it in for me. He hates me for spitting hot dogs into my hand and giving them to the ring steward. He hates me because he had to wait for me. He hates me because I must look like his ex-wife. I don't know what it is, but clearly he hates me. Tomorrow is going to be awful. :-[
We go anyway. Angus is up all day, playing on the bed in the hotel room, riding around in the car, going to PetsMart to find a good 4' leash and a less-honking choke collar (we did), then we get to the show. I want to leave him in the car again to let him be quiet and rest, but Kevin persuades me that it is important to set up his crate and let him have the full show experience. :-\ OK, but you know this may cost us.
I get Angus out to warm him up. I am feeling terrible. Psychologically, as well as the fact that I haven't eaten since breakfast and it is now pushing 4:00. Angus is very lukewarm. I can tell he is tired. It's not my full-on dog from yesterday. Oh well, here we go.
I am resigned to an 80-something score if we are very lucky. But I do make sure I do one thing before I say "ready": I make sure I've got a nice "J." Yep, that's a good "J". Ready!
Angus is sort of there. I lose him a few times, but he does come back. Again it is a ridiculously easy and short course. We run it in 46 seconds.
I check our score: 100!!
There are four 100's, and we are one of them! Hello Mr. Ribbon!!! ;D
We ended up placing fourth and got a lovely white ribbon, another green one to go with yesterday's, and they will also be mailing a qualifying ribbon.
But much more important than the ribbons is this: Angus did SUPER! I was exceedingly proud of him both days. He really showed me that he can turn it on. After all, the only points off from Saturday were on me.
Connie and "The Boys":
Angus, Yellow Lab, CGC, RE, CD
Simon, d.b.a. Flat Coated Retriever, CGC, RE, CD
Gone ahead, but forever in my heart:
Crash, Pit Bull x Rottweiler x Golden Retriever
What a fabulous recount!! I laughed, got nervous and felt as if I were there with you Connie!! Kiss that Angus for me will ya??
Congratulations Angus!! ;D
What a fun read!!!*WOO HOO, Angus!
omg @ the hot dogs...I was laughing out loud...only you, Connie!
WHAT a story! And WHAT a thrill....Angus...wow. Who would have ever guessed that that boy would come so far? Truly a testament to his intelligence and potential and yours and Kevin's patience and love with him. Incredible. Congrats!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Was Simon happy to see you whe you got home? Is Angus' head swollen now? Does he make Simon address him by his AKC sanctioned title now?
Spitting hot dogs, too good. Ugh. But I'm still impressed!
And very, very well told. Thanks for sharing.
Toby and Chamois say: GO STEELERS!
Congratulations! Angus you da man......................
Great story, very funny, suspenseful and a little sad and with a good ending, do you write for a living?!!!
Simon snot in your eye.. masticated weiners in a stranger's hand...
Yep, I think you're officially a dog person now!
Congrats on the RN!
WOOHOO, Angus. Congratulations.
Eiderdowns That's My Buddy
CDX, RE, WC, CGC, TDInc.
Oh HAHAHAHAHA!!! What a great story, Connie! Congratulations to both of you for Angus's wonderful performance. (And for your willingness so slather a stranger's palm with your saliva.)
Angus! I pity the fool who gives you an 88!