Maybe you could find someone who’d leave a holiday dog show in a bad mood, but it’d be tough. Wet-dog smell has taken up permanent residence in my nostrils (gazillions of dogs gathering in the rainy Northwest? c’maaaan!) and my brain has pretty much OD’d on cute, silly, cuddly, fluffy, adorable, funny…


It was raining dogs and dogs outside; the wet-dog smell may never actually leave me

Mom and I hit up the show last Saturday, thoroughly enjoying ourselves and hopefully getting Mom one step closer to a new companion that might even be  a good hearing ear candidate.

I’m by no means a dog show aficionado; this was only my third or fourth show in a lifetime and I can’t say I’m exactly up on the rules, but this one seemed smaller and a lot more lighthearted than the one we visited in the same fairgrounds last October.


At the much bigger regional show a few months back, elegant dress (and even more elegant dogs) were the order of the day


Serious dog handling at the big elegant show

Our previous foray found a serious and far more elegant affair, where the owners hired well-dressed, professional handlers to market their dogs.

Mom and I had ring-side seats at that show and got a backstage view of how the pros merchandise pedigreed show canines.


Less serious competition

I gotta say, we weren’t all that impressed with the paid handlers. They treated their charges  with great consideration but not much affection.

They knew all the tricks about stopping in front of the judge and putting the dog through the right paces for his size and agility, but as far as they were concerned, the dogs themselves were perfectly groomed and pretty much interchangeable.

dog-dog-othershow-keeshondenBut that was the big important show. At THIS show, the dogs (and the people) got to play dress-up, and they were anything but interchangeable.

And they wore a heckuva lot more than a leash and a ribbon or two. Mostly, what they wore was of the see-how-ughhhly-you-can-make-this Christmas-sweater variety.

They were very good at ugly Christmas sweaters.

Mom met up with breeders of keeshonden, which look like a cross between a sled dog and a chowchow, and have been used as therapy dogs. They’re sweet dogs, though, kinda like giant shoebutton-eyed stuffed animals that want to be petted.

Their owners assured us that all that hair (HAIR, not fur; apparently there’s a difference) only needed the faintest bit of brushing every week or so, and that there are plenty of grownup lonely keeshonden looking for companions.

Pretty soon everyone was chattering away and we came away with an earful about rescue organizations that can handle hearing ear training.

dog-greyhoundsGirls came by with trays of homemade cookies; boys offered us cups of punch. We thanked them politely but declined, our attention riveted on a giant silvery mop perched atop a stack of boxes.

Its owner noticed us staring curiously and scooped it into her arms. “This,” she said proudly, “Is Jackson. He’s a Pekingese, and he’s only nine months old.”

dog-pekingeseJackson gave us a friendly scowl and leaned forward for a pat. He reminded me of some tribal moon icon, carved into a lodgepole, surrounded by moose fuzz.

dog-waiting“He’s just out of the kennel,” she explained “So his coat’s a mess. We’ve got to get him cleaned up in time for the ring after lunch.” And she set to work. Given the amount of fuzz on Jackson and his brethren (there were more in those boxes), I wasn’t sure she’d finish in time.

dog-purpleshirtThis early in a dog show, everybody’s grooming, and they’ll happily tell you all about their charges, as long as you don’t interrupt the stripping and combing and primping and such.

dog-pomeranianOnce the dogs are ready…they wait. And wait. Dogs are called with the rest of their class into the show ring, a process that puts me in mind of lining up for recess when I was a kindergartener.

…except that my teacher hadn’t fastened leash around my neck (however much she wanted to). Nor did she entice me with a bit of chicken liver held fetchingly between her teeth. (eeeeeeeuw)

To no one’s surprise, Mom and I have exactly the opposite taste in dogs: She goes for cute, small and fluffy dogs like Maltese and poodles and Pomeranians and Havanese.

I go for big and elegant: Greyhounds and salukis. Or sometimes just big, like Bernese mountain dogs and Irish wolfhounds. The kinds of dogs you can ride. Or toss a tarp over and convert to a storm shelter when the weather gets bad (just try doing that with a chihuahua).

I don’t know that we’ll ever fill our houses with either, so maybe, in the end, that’s the best part of a dog show: You get to meet a lot of very nice dogs on their best behavior, and then you get to go home and leave the doggie management to the experts.