Sunday, May 30, 2010

Pay It Forward

The Cardigan world- no- the entire dog fancy- was dealt a cruel blow with the untimely death of Marieann Gladstone on Friday. I am sure that most of the people reading this have their own memories of Marieann, and share the immense sense of loss.

Personally, I cannot think of a single other person "in dogs" that had a greater influence on me- who I am- how I think- what my goals and aspirations are. Unfortunatly, I don't believe Marieann knew how much her influence meant to me. I know I never took the time to tell her- I always thought there would be another chance.

I was wrong.

Marieann was many things, to many people. She was more than my mentor; more than my friend. Although we might not always agree, I always respected her opinion. She taught me about dogs, yes; but more importantly, she taught me about myself. In her very quiet, but very firm way, she never let me get away with making excuses or accepting mediocrity. From Marieann I learned about ethics and standards and values; and I never had a chance to thank her.

I will always regret that.

While discussing the untimely loss of our mutual friend, and how badly I felt about never telling Marieann how I felt about her, another friend suggested that I "pay it forward." ~ that I share with others all the things that I learned from Marieann over the years.

So, over the next few weeks, in the pages of this blog, I will attempt to share with you all the things that Marieann taught me about. I don't have her wonderful way of gently getting the point across without stepping on anyone's toes, but hopefully no one will be unduly offended.

We have lost a great friend and a great asset to our breed. There is no way that I, or anyone, can make up for what she offered. In a large way, my sharing is a way for me to heal as much as it is a way to pay tribute to one of the finest people I have ever had the privelege of knowing, and being able to call a friend.

Blessings to all of you.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Size Does Matter

OK- I have to ask you all a question... when was the last time you read the Cardigan standard? Do you know what the recommended/suggested size of the ideal Cardigan is?

Next question... Do you think that the majority of the Cardigans being shown/bred today are within that size bracket?

Now- I assure you I am not on a witch hunt- and I have always been of the "balance is more important than absolute size" mind set- but- I am getting concerned about the size of some of the Cardigans I am seeing in the rings- and the comments I am hearing, both from exhibitors and breeders- and judges!

To quote our standard: "Ideally, dogs should be from 30 to 38 pounds; bitches from 25 to 34 pounds. Lack of overall balance, oversized or undersized are serious faults."

Think about the male dogs in your house, or the male Specials you have seen out in the last year. What do you think they weigh? What about the bitches?

Imagine what would happen if you took a 30 pound adult dog in the ring? Have you shown a 25 pound bitch?

The fact is, you will be far more successful with an OVERSIZED dog or bitch, then you will be with a correct sized Cardigan. I find that disturbing.

What I found even more disturbing is that I am catching myself looking at my own dogs and wondering... is he going to be big enough? Is she too small? I look at 38 pound dogs as being on the "moderate" size- when, in reality, they are at the top end of the standard. Where I used to say my "Big Boy", Nicky, was as big as I would ever want to have in my house- I realized at the Nationals that he was just average in size.

Size DOES Matter people! The Cardigan is NOT a Large Breed Dog with short legs. Our breed is "a handsome, powerful, small dog." We need to keep that in mind when making our breeding decisions. We need to remember that when choosing which dogs to show.

Bigger is not better- nor is it correct. Bigger may be more impressive to Group judges- but if the judge knows the breed, and is worthy of your respect, he or she should be able to find that correct, balanced, and sound dog of the proper size.

If the breeders don't make the effort to show the dogs of the proper size, how are the judges ever going to learn?

Next time you are evaluating that litter of puppies, please fight the urge to keep the biggest puppy in the litter; think moderate!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Choices and Priorities

Life is all about setting priorities and making choices. We learn that very early, when the decision is whether to play with our friends, or stay inside and finish our homework. It's a little bit depressing to discover that things don't change too much when you are an adult, isn't it? In fact, not only do you still have to make those tough decisions [Do I eat that chocolate cake, or do I go to the gym? Do I go to the office, or do I hang out at home with my spouse?] the consequences for our choices are so much more serious!

The same thing transfers down when you live in a multi-dog household, with multiple interests and venues.

Do you finish that championship first, or start on Agility/Obedience now? Should I breed my bitch NOW- or wait until after I finish her CD? Should I spend the money to go to that important dog show, or should I pay the credit card bill ["You get two notices-- TWO notices!!"]

Sometimes life- those Realities of Life- you know, the stuff that generally really Sucks--gets in the way of the things you really want to do. Things like JOBS- SCHOOL- MONEY--FAMILY-- all take us away from spending as much time as we would like to doing the things we want to do with our dogs.

Which- brings me back to my first line- Life is all about setting priorities and making choices.

I tend to go through this on a regular basis; this taking stock of where I am in my "dog life." Who do I have in the house- what am I doing with them- what do I want to do with them- what SHOULD I be doing with them that I am not able to do-- etc. I always end up with a "where do I go from here..." session...

I am a goal-setter, but unfortunatly, I tend to set somewhat unreasonable goals. I think it goes along with being "slightly" competative- Type A personality. As a result, I get frustrated when I haven't attained all of the goals I had set for each dog in the time period I had set aside! Inevitably, my frustration leads to a sense of disappointment with myself- never the dogs, for its never their fault!

However, in January I made only one New Years resolution- to not set unreasonable goals for myself- in any area of my life. I don't need to have the cleanest house, the best grades, spend every weekend with my grandchildren, and have the top obedience scores or the #1 Cardigan. Any of those would be wonderful- but I don't NEED any of them- and I don't need to make myself- or the people around me- insane while I try to reach unreachable goals.

Accepting that I have limitations is not easy- nor is lowing my personal bar a bit to allow for some breathing room. I have had to constantly remind myself that its all a matter of My Personal Choice...

My priorities have definitly changed! Whereas in the past I would be showing every weekend, I am enjoying the time I am spending at home with my husband and my family and the dogs. I am really enjoying working in Obedience and playing in Agility. My husband and I are looking forward to taking a vacation together, and we haven't done that in a long time!

Breeding and showing dogs is a very greedy hobby- it will quickly take up all of your available time and money. If I can offer one word of advice to a new person coming into our sport, it would be to go slow- take your time, and learn early on to set your priorities and make smart choices! Don't let dogs shows take over your life- and don't find yourself over run with dogs! Its not fair to the dogs- or to yourself- and especially not to your family!

And- no matter what- remember to have fun! It's all just a game!!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Home from the Nationals

We are home from the CWCCA National Specialty! PHEW!! What a week!!

We had a fabulous National Specialty! We brought home lots of Rosettes and coolers (trophies)! I think the count on Rosettes was 20 at my house, another 4 or 5 at Lisa's house, and then there are those that went to Mandy's house, and Terri's house, and Lisa Phillips' house....

We also brought home 2 new titles!! Yeah for Bugsy---aka--- the dog who could not be trained! Bugsy now has a CD and an RE behind his name~ with placements for each leg earned! He finished his RE with a first place and a score of 99, too! His CD scores were not quite that impressive, but it was good enough for a second place! Bugsy can now brag that he is a balanced dog-- Ch. Xtacee PV Bugsy Malone CD, RE, HIC--- now to get serious with that dumbell and drop on recall... and agility stuff!

Sera (Ch Xtacee Moonlight Serenade) won the 2010 CWCCA National Specialty Brood Bitch class, followed by her beautiful puppies, Morgan and Will-Smith-Jacob. For me, this was the biggest thrill of the National; this is the first time I have ever won this award. Sera also made it to the bitter end in Best of Breed~ but no AOM~ again. Maybe the 3rd time is the charm? Guess I will have to take her to another National to find out? Sera did win the Best Blue Bitch award in the Megan competition for the second time.

Jitterbug (Ch. Xtacee Lifes A Dance) won Best Black Bitch in the Megan- and by the end of the week, had somewhat learned to stand still and bait! Her show career is over; now we can have fun learning rally, and agility, which is her real love anyway!

The Veterans had a lot of fun! Granpa Nicky won the 11 +older class, both in the Sweeps and the regular classes! He really enjoyed being a show dog again- of course, it will take him a week to sleep off all the excitement!

George came back, almost 2 years post surgery, with style. He won the 7-9 Veterans class Sweeps and Regular classes, amid cheers and tears! He loved being in the ring, and moved out with almost the same beautiful foot timing. George was given an Award of Merit in Best of Breed- a fitting end to his show career! Now George can hang up his show lead, next to his AOM ribbon!

Terri Clingerman joined us for the week, with Cricket (Spotman x Dora). However, Cricket opted to leave her hair at home. None the less, Cricket placed in her Sweepstakes class and showed beautifully all week! I think we may have Terri almost converted... she is starting to think about a second cardigan, anyway!

Little LeeLoo (Xtacee the Fifth Element- Sera x Powell)- had a great time, too! She placed in all of her classes, and won her sweeps and her regular class on Sunday at the Del Val Specialty. She is quite the head turner! Such a sweetie!! Her owner, Lisa Phillips, is obviously head over heels in love with this girl!

Morgan did not learn to be a show dog over the week- but he certainly had fun trying! He placed second in a very large 6-9 sweepstakes class, and then I threw him to the wolves and showed him in Bred By Exhibitor against all the adult dogs. He was the youngest dog in the class (6 months, 3 days) and yet he placed Fourth!! Go Morgan!! On Sunday he won both his Sweepstakes class, and the Bred-By class!

And the, last but certainly not least, is Will-Smith-Jacob. Owned by myself and Mandy Bossi (and trained by Caitlyn, of course), WSJ strutted his stuff to win the 6-9 puppy dog class, and then on to Reserve Winners dog.... and BEST PUPPY IN SHOW at the CWCCA National Specialty 2010

I am already making plans for Texas-- and hope to see you all there!