Monday, March 22, 2010
( photo: Am Ch OTCH Merrily's Steely Dan UD ) photo by Chris ? 1980s
The National. 2010. Tuscon, AZ.
There is so much to think about, so much to say. I got to see a lot of people who were instrumental in the creation of Emma's pedigree, others who sparked my interest in Shelties many years ago. Names I've heard are now attached to faces and lines I've seen bits of here and there were in full force in the ring.
I was even a little surprised at how many hours I could spend watching the dogs move around the ring, stack and re stack. i think what I was most keen on was watching movement and figuring out angles. The good movers became fairly quickly obvious and especially inspiring were the ones who had soundness and attitude. The sheltie smile, the ground swallowing trot. I wish I had a catalog...there were a small stack of them sitting on the bench near me that I used when needed so only miss having one now.
I do so wish I had been there for the performance events though....herding. obedience....particularly. I would've liked the balance. As it was, the conformation sparkled, but I feel at loose ends in that world without my dog.... A world of clear hierarchy...it is obvious who is important there and in what order. This is not to say that people weren't nice ...many were...and that there are not conformation people I count as friends, some of them treasured, but I had the distinct feeling that sometimes it took something of an effort and a moral code to be nice----although a thing not to be underestimated---and the real goods belong to the breeders and the professional handlers.
The stakes are high, the competition fierce. And to be utterly honest, there's a part of me that wants to throw her hat in. After all that keen sense of hierarchy comes from my own sense of competition. BUT. Always always always...the dogs have to come first, and one ought to treat your friends with respect, and your competition with grace.
And then.... I kept thinking that here were these sound dogs with fabulous structure, attitude and willingness...and for what? For moving around the ring well and throwing puppies who do too. Seems logical to me that these are the dogs who should be herding and doing agility and search and rescue and racking up OTCH points...
And yet I wonder, as a person with a well tuned sense of aesthetics, why shouldn't the beauty of the beast not be enough? Well....because I believe in a dog's mind and heart and soul and that a challenge and a purpose is what gives life joy. But then again, isn't just being enough...don't dogs themselves teach us that? That trotting around the ring in your body is a joy itself?
I have no conclusions...only questions and a desire to find my place ...after many years here I still think there is more to do and more niches to poke my nose into...as long as the dogs are there.
Which brings me to my bottom line....and that is that I'm not sure I want to go to a National again without my own dog. For the company, the solace.