Vehicular Evolution of an Exhibitor

I look at myself now, and still consider myself somewhat of a novice within the dog fancy, although some people would disagree. But then I look back upon my entry into the show world, and cringe, and realize that I have come a very long way. And Iím not counting those obedience classes I took with my little mixed breed back in junior high school (whose instructor has gone on to write a book and is well known in the obedience circles these days - now thereís progression!). Iím speaking of merely the past six and a half years.

Once my newfound friend got me the info necessary to enter my first bitch into a show, I entered Nikki into the earliest one. Three weeks seemed like such a long time to plan ahead. I was used to the hunter/jumper shows I used to attend with my gelding. I couldnít understand why it wasnít possible to enter the same day - who plans that far ahead?! Now there are times that three weeks doesnít seem near enough time - it seems that as soon as Iíve sent the entries in, that itís time to go. Except of course when Iím awaiting to find out if the entry has made a major - waiting to see if the money I spent has gone to waste when the major doesnít make.

At the time of my first show, my friend suggested I enter Nikki in Am-Bred so as to avoid competition within the class. No wonder people were looking at me oddly!! And poor naked Nikki, so young and hairless, a late maturer. Itís easy to see why I was so discouraged at the beginning of her modest career. Of course, now we enter into more "accepted" classes, although sometimes the Bred-By-Exhibitor classes seem to be ignored once Winnerís Dog/Bitch gets underway.

For me the big changes can be seen within two major areas, although more apply; transportation and wardrobe, the biggest change being that of a vehicular nature.

When I first embarked upon my dogshow journey, I was married and we both had small pickups. I would load everything into the bed, and the dog(s) would ride in the cab. Bear in mind, I had a Toyota. I always had plenty of room for crates and whatnot - could always carry more if needed. But it is somewhat humorous to think of the borzoi literally crammed into the two and a half foot wide space on the passenger side of that little rice-burner. On the rare occasions they were both entered, Nikki and Luke would ride peacefully lying on top of one another. The stares of those at the site while I was unloading burn within my memory. Sometimes I chuckle at them, sometimes I groan.

For a while, I had an Isuzu Rodeo that we had traded in one of the pickups for. I learned the hard way how difficult it is to load crates onto the top of a vehicle. I only did it once. Soon after, a divorce, and back to the mini-truck, and the looks of wonderment at the unloading zone. When the pups from my first litter were 9 months old, I decided to take one out to a show to give him a beneficial experience - a preview of things to come. Not wanting to try and cram three bony bodies into that cab space, I bummed my parentís old Suburban. The show was located in my old college town, almost two hours away from home. And Kodi received a heck of a life experience. The Suburban broke down on the outskirts of town (the show site one). Stranded at a gas station and completely worried about getting that coveted set-up space with a plug, much less a hotel room, I began to panic. I had a load of dogs and equipment, and was a good 10 miles from the show site. That was when I noticed a man taking pictures of my dogs. He moseyed over and started talking to me. I was near hysterics internally, and now had to make nice. I had called the handler friends that I was to help save space for, and take care of the hotel. They had an ETA of three hours. My parents were on their way, but that would be two hours for them. The tow truck had come for the ĎBurb, and I faced another dilemma - I had been offered a ride to the show site. We promptly loaded everything into this manís..............SEDAN. What an experience!! Three suitcase crates, a grooming table, a big dolly (homemade), grooming box and tackbox, my suitcase and hanging clothes, and three borzoi, stuffed into this car! What a sight.

Granted, I was nervous - always followed the "donít take rides from strangers" rule, but for whatever reason, kicked that rule to the curb. Iím sure it helped that Nikki was ensconced between us in the front seat. She can be an imposing creature when she chooses. We made it through that weekend unscathed, until the time came to return home. You see, my parentís had brought me my truck for the ride home. We decided to send Nikki to the handlerís a week early for her West Texas and Oklahoma trips, after trying to fit everyone into the cab.

Since I worked most weekends and didnít get around the circuit that much, the little truck sufficed, until I got a Monday through Friday job, and started going more regularly. I finally put a camper in the truck, and one of those ex-pen carriers on the front bumper. The first and only time I used the carrier, the crate stuck well above my line of sight - and I drove in a thunderstorm to the show site an hour away, looking through the crate. I think the only reason I wasnít ticketed was that no cop in his right mind wanted to write me up in the deluge of rain falling from the sky.

Last spring, while on the way home from a show (of course), the truck broke down for the first and final time. Unfortunately it chose to do so in the middle of nowhere. Nothing beats walking down the interstate with two borzoi while the sun is starting to set. Once it became apparent that a convenience store/gas station was not forthcoming, I got up the nerve to approach a house and ask to use the phone, and was once again bailed by my parents.

Now I drive a mini-van, something I swore I would never do, until, of course, I got into dogs. Vans are just too domestic for a bohemian-wanna-be such as myself. At least now the dogs have A/C, something they couldnít really enjoy riding in the camper shell, despite the "beer window" that connected us. It carries two airline crates for the dogs, although once in a while one will be loose when I haul several for those majors we have helped build. Or I snatch the BIG van from my boyfriend (and fellow borzoi afficionado) to tote around even more borzoi and equipment! I look back on those early days, and wonder how I did it!

As for the changes in wardrobe, it can pretty much be summed up in a word - POCKETS! I never worried about pockets before. And is it just me, or does everything that seems to be easy-care not have pockets, and everything that does is dry clean?