A Lesson from Arthur

I was reminded yet again of why I participate in the dog fancy a few weekends ago. I took my chances on going to a show about 4 hours away. There were only 2 class dogs and a bitch special entered – now you know why I say I was taking a chance. At the current exorbitant fuel prices and such a low entry, plus all the other expenses of an out-of-town show, I was definitely throwing caution to the wind. I had only entered Arthur since the Saturday judge had put him up over a lovely half-sibling a couple months beforehand.

Arthur is an interesting dog. He is as devoted as his father Nigel with an independent streak inherited from his mother Nikki. Nigel is a very needy dog while Nikki will appear needy when she wants something. Arthur is a very intense runner, a momma’s boy, and a complete toy freak – his favorite toy being a little green alien-man that sounds like a cell phone when squeezed. He knows when I put him the table in the living room for any trimming that he will soon be embarking upon a trip and will be restless until loaded in the van. After his trim, he will trot down the hall to the bathroom and wait to be told to get in the tub. He doesn’t necessarily like being bathed, but he seems to recognize that it’s part of a greater scheme. He will turn around in the tub when told and tolerates the whole procedure quite well. When the day comes to leave for the show – he will usually bark when we are loading dogs into the van. Certainly we don’t plan on leaving him behind!!

This particular show weekend will revolve around only Arthur. He doesn’t have to share time with any of his siblings or housemates – it’s just him and "mom".

I had decided to go ahead and stay at the run-down, independently run motel that was 2 driveways down from the show site. I had stayed there the previous year, pulling the chair and table ensemble to block the door (there was no safety chain) and keeping my shoes on for fear that my feet would remain permanently stuck to the carpet. It hadn’t helped that the proprietor had asked if I wanted a nightcap on that particular visit, but I had begged off citing I didn’t need a drink to relax (I was tired enough from the drive) and I needed to take care of my <big> dog. Always ready for an adventure, I checked in and drove to the rear and started unloading. I was tired, so I just set the canvas crate to the side in the room (after pulling the table and chair over to the door), set up Arthur’s food and water by the bathroom, flopped on the bed and promptly turned on the tube to prepare for bed. Arthur nibbled on dinner, snatched a toy from his bag, and came and lay down at the side of the bed. Everytime I woke up during the night, he was in the same spot, although once he was upside down, splayed to the world.

Come morning, we took care of our respective business and drove next door to the show site. We had an early ring time, so the parking lot wasn’t too crowded. I parked the van in a spot that would offer some shade throughout the day, set up the table behind the van, unloaded and started the generator, and proceeded to fluff and tidy my little man. We then made our way inside to the rings with about a half hour to spare, which was fine since sometimes Arthur needs a little time to settle down before showing. I ran into a friend of mine (who was the show chair – so I could rule her out for having the other class dog) and her daughter. After getting my number at our ring, I went over to the superintendent’s table to look through the catalog and see who the other class dog might be. I was dismayed to see that it was a dog which I knew only needed a major – so Arthur was a singleton entry and no point available unless he beat the specials bitch. I was none too pleased, feeling that the trip was all for nothing – a waste of my time and money.

The call came for the Borzoi Bred-By Exhibitor dog class, and we went in and did our thing. At least the judge was cheerful. The specials bitch was brought in and we commenced to trotting around the ring. He went over the bitch; looked at Arthur; went to the other side of the ring and took them both in; moved us around the ring again; came and looked at them from the front, then again from the far side of the ring. He then gave the specials bitch breed and Arthur BOS. The special’s handler is a fun, cheerful lady – she gestured like he had really made her work for it, and he told her that Arthur was a nice young dog. For me, it just felt nice that the judge at least looked at him seriously instead of just having us trot around the ring once and then hand out the ribbons.

I then began to wonder if I should go ahead and take my chances the next day. I had plenty to do at home and would probably better serve myself by going home and taking care of other business. But I wasn't really up to driving again. I had brought a good book that I was 100 pages or so from finishing, and another book just in case, and also some needlework. Maybe it would be nice to relax away from the computer (which is where I tend to be ensconced). Arthur seemed quite content to have me all to himself as well. So I drove back to the motel, paid for another night, and settled back down into the room. Arthur had grabbed his toy and taken it into the bathroom with him with the cool tile floor. I managed to find something on the tube, settled back with my book and started reading. Arthur then came over to the side of the bed and promptly began staring at me. Thinking maybe he was out of something, I checked his food and water – they were fine. I came back to the bed. Arthur now had his toy in his mouth. I nabbed it and tossed it across the room – he bounced and pounced and brought it back. So we did this little routine a couple more times until he decided he didn’t want to chase it again.

At home, Arthur can be a little too enthusiastic about the cats, which live in the master bedroom/bath. So he doesn’t get to come in and stay in the bedroom during the night since we don’t much care for the idea of waking up to kitty corpses if Arthur got too rough. He’s come in for short visits – usually will lick Kitty on the head and proceed to chase Bob. Kitty is usually still when dogs come in and Bob runs away – therefore Bob is the natural attraction. The downside to this is that Arthur doesn’t know how comfy a bed can be. I decided to see if Arthur would like to see how it feels to sleep in a bed. I managed to coax him up and after a bit, he flopped down beside me. I reached down and grabbed his toy and gave it to him and began reading again. After a while I began to get groggy and figured a little nap might not be so bad, so I curled up around Arthur and snoozed a bit.

About an hour later, I decided that some food was in order. Not wanting to bother with setting up the crate, I figured I’d just find some fast food to bring back and Arthur could travel along. We stopped at the local Sonic and took the food back to the room. Arthur managed to be quite the little gentleman (which was actually surprising, since he can be a very impulsive young dog) and waited for any tidbits. I had actually expected him to be pouncing about and trying to snatch food. After dinner, we went back out for a walk, where Arthur promptly pee’d his front legs. Who needs a fire hydrant, when your own legs will do? When we returned to the hotel room, we entered the bathroom and all I had to do was point to the tub. Arthur stepped in and I promptly rinsed off his feathers and feet, toweled them off and let him out. He ran and snatched his toy and brought it to me, wanting to play another game of fetch for a bit. He then settled down with his toy between his front paws and assumed the snooze position. I didn’t want to let him on the bed with wet legs, and he seemed content enough lying at the side of the bed nearest me anyway. So we both settled down for the night.

The next morning, it was back into the old show routine. We went into the ring and did our thing, and this judge didn’t give him a second look over the special, and our show day was done. We walked back to the van in the misting rain, and Arthur jumped into the van, turned around, and gave me one of his endearing yet mischievous smiles. I realized I hadn’t wasted the extra 24 hours in staying for the second day with no other class competition. I had had some quality time with my pick boy, who is so reminiscent of his father in his devotion, and his mother in his humor. Maybe to some that day, they would have felt their time had been wasted for the weekend. Arthur had taught me a valuable lesson. It shouldn’t always be about points and winning and glory. Our Borzoi give us the greatest gift any creature can – love.