The Group 4 photo of Rafe, taken at the Fargo, ND, show in early June finally arrived. As you know, Rafe is not a dog who wants to have his picture taken, so I was pleased that it turned out as well as it did. The judge is Charlotte Patterson.
I received an email from Ted, the owner of Lucky, who is a half brother to our current puppies. I appreciate Ted keeping me updated on Lucky's antics! Ted wrote, "I thought I would share with you a funny situation with our WalMart Greeter. He seems to be expanding his functions in life. I think he also wants to be a ball retriever. Ev and I went to a resort for a few days to relax and do some golfing (I golf , Ev and Lucky drive the cart). Hole by hole I would pitch my ball onto the green and put it into the hole and then walk back to the cart and drive to the next hole. On the 15th hole , I pitched the ball on to the green and was getting my putter out of the bag when all of a sudden Lucky jumps out of the cart with his leash still on and runs to the golf ball---puts it into his mouth and runs back to the cart proud as punch. He surprises us most days with something new. He is quite the character."
LOL!! Lucky obviously learned a new trick by observing Ted. "Hey, I wanna golf too! I'll just save Dad the effort and bring back that ball for him!"
Lucky's half-siblings (Mira is their mom) are growing and exploring and figuring out new ways to flummox me each day. They love trying to beat me through the baby gate! It's their newest game. The gate is new and does its job but I liked the old one much better. We had to forgo using it because Duncan figured out how to get out of it. The new one is higher, so I cannot step over it as I did the other one, which means opening and shutting it multiple times each day.
This week the new experiences for the puppies included a bath and a session under the big blow dryer on Tuesday and, on Wednesday, a trip in the car to the vet for first vaccinations. As usual, they were a hit at the clinic, with multiple staff members stopping by to see them and tell me how cute they are.
|My girl, Lila, 7.5 weeks|
|Hunter, 7.5 weeks|
|Jethro, 7.5 weeks|
The second experience was a face-to-face with a communicator at a show in MN. Breaker was a great dog to show -- as long as there were no loud or unusual noises around the ring he was in. Well, if you have ever been to a dog show, you know that loud and unusual noises are all part of the background and have to be endured. Breaker finished fast, getting his first points in May and his championship in late August, shortly after he turned a year old. However, the noises made him antsy and unreliable, so when I saw the communicator's booth at the show, I thought I'd see if she could provide insight into his problem. Unfortunately, she could not. He was willing to communicate about how he liked the showing and going to shows with me. But when she asked him about being afraid and antsy in the ring, she said it was like a black curtain fell down between them. He shut off communication and, she said, he obviously did not want to talk about it! She felt so bad that she did not even charge me for that consultation.
When we were at the Bloomington, IL shows in May, I began a conversation with a friend who lives there. Eventually, we began talking about a mutual friend whose husband recently died. She was taking her Lhasa to a communicator to help the dog get through her grief, which was making her act totally out of character. I mentioned I'd like to get inside Rafe's head to find out why he insisted on shaking his head in the ring and why he disliked having his picture taken. And that is how our Monday session with the communicator came about.
Did she provide some insight for me? Yes, indeed! I know now that I have some things to work on. For instance, Rafe feels confused and slighted because he does not understand why I used to show him first and now he has to wait until Windy shows. He doesn't like me leaving him at ringside with other people to show her. He doesn't like the rushing around when I come out of the ring to get him.
Now, if you know dog shows, this makes sense. Before the dogs are champions, the classes for males are judged first, then the females, then the champions. So, yes, for his first shows Rafe, being a puppy, always got to go in the ring first. He was only 8 months old when he finished so he was always first in the ring. I was also showing Maggie then, and she had to wait to go after him. Now it is different. I do have to rush, especially if Windy wins her class and has to go back in for Winners Bitch. The specials go in immediately after the WB class, so there is very little time to switch dogs and armbands and get back in the ring with Rafe. So we worked on a strategy and will see how it turns out. I'll try it this weekend.
Oh...and he prefers his headfall be airy and fluffy! It bothers him when I brush it down close to his head, so he shakes. (He's gonna have to get over that by himself! LOL!) I have a strategy, and will let you know if it works!
The communicator also told me not to use the word "don't." She said dogs do not understand contractions. So "don't shake" is no good. "No shake" is better. They understand "no."
Finally, the photos: He dislikes the high energy that surrounds the area where pictures are taken. It makes him nervous and uncomfortable. He thinks there is too much stuff there. Okay, I understand his point...you have a judge, a photographer who usually has an assistant, me (who tends to be happy and excited by the placement or win), generally a couple of my friends who are fans and supporters of Rafe and who help groom him for the picture, and then there are the props--often big baskets of flowers--and a sign indicating name, date of show, award. The groomers are brushing. I'm trying to stack him. The photographer is giving directions (e.g., move the front foot on your side back a bit; fix the tail, etc.). The assistant is squeeking some damn toy, trying to get the dog's attention. You get the picture. And all the while, he is thinking, "Just get me out of here."
I understand what he means about the high energy in the area where the pictures are taken. At the end of the day, during the group judging, there is a lot of high energy in and around the ring. People are cheering for their favorites and, of course, those who win or place in the groups are super-charged with excitement and energy. The first place they all head to is usually the photographer's set up to get a photo to commemorate the event.
So, I understand...but I still wish he'd focus and hold still for the picture. We'd get out of that environment he dislikes much faster that way!
All-in-all, the conversation with the communicator was a good one. I came away with some insights into Rafe's experiences and opinions. He does like going to the shows and doesn't want to stop. He feels special and enjoys the attention he gets when people say how pretty he is. What he wants is more attention from me (hmmm....some jealousy of Windy perhaps?). I'm a little apprehensive about his response when I start showing Duncan! Oh...and Rafe likes his name. He thinks it is funny when people mispronounce it and I correct them.
We're headed for two all-breed shows and a Lhasa Apso specialty in West Bend, WI, this weekend. Wish us luck!
Here's a recent article, HSUS Says No More Animals, I thought some of you might be interested in reading. It was printed in the June 21, 2013 issue of the online publication, Dog Press.
Life is better when you have a Lhasa Apso to love you!