My Best Girl

Taking a trip down memory lane today!! I thought I would tell you my story about my first Chessie, Ro-lyns Jessas Shadowdancer “Shadowdancer”.

I met my first Chesapeake around 25 years ago, her name was Jessa. She belonged to my soon to be very good friend Robin; we both worked in a group home for the developmentally disabled. I started working the midnight shift and my first night I was met by two big brown dogs. Their names were Jessa and Feather. This wasn’t a problem for me as I have loved dogs my whole life, I get that love of dogs from my dad. I had never seen dogs that looked like these two, Robin introduced us and told me a bit about the breed.

I fell in love with them immediately, especially Jessa. She just had a way about her, laid back but on alert when she needed to be. They were both so very gentle with the residents. They made for a great clean up crew every morning after breakfast too. They waited patiently while the residents were eating but the minute they left the table and Robin gave them the “clean up crew” yell they came running.

Robin had decided she was going to breed Jessa one last time and knew how much I loved her and wanted a Chessie of my own. So on February 17, 1993 my best girl was born. I helped Robin with the whelping so I was the very first person to hold my special girl, what a thrill that was. I watched her and the siblings grow and I had many puppy play days.Shadowdancer4.jpeg   Sire and Dam ~ NBISS CH**/CanCH*Parklake’s Lordship Sir Oliver X CH Ro-Lyn’s Blustry Jala Jessa

Then the long awaited day was finally here, shortly after my birthday my beautiful deadgrass girl was presented to me for a birthday present. I could hardly contain myself!!JIMMIE & SHADOWDANCER.jpeg

That day started a journey that I will never forget.

So first things first I had to come up with a name, boy that’s harder than you might think. Every name I came up with just didn’t seem to suit her. I was looking for something kind of Native American. So one day we were outside and I was just watching her play and I noticed that she had spotted her shadow. Such a sight, she started dancing around her shadow and pouncing on it. So from that day forward she was called Shadowdancer.

She loved loved loved to swim!! Shadowdancer puppy.jpegI had never had a dog that swam so the first time and many times after I would stand on the shore holding my breath, I just knew she was going to drown. I learned after about six months or so she not only knew what she was doing but it was in her genes and she was a pro. She had a very deaf ear when being called to come out of the water so we could leave. I could have stood on the bank with a side of beef and she would not come out until she was good and ready. Shadowdancer5 (2).jpeg

We went on many trips together. Traveling out west when she was just four months old with Robin and two other Chessies, Jessa and Greta. We went through many states including Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, Colorado and we saw many sights together. We hiked around one of the areas where Dances With Wolves was filmed, not sure it really thrilled her but Robin and I were pretty excited! She swam in the Snake River in Wyoming with her mom and Greta. We hiked on many trails and mountain areas. We went to Mackinaw Island and biked around the whole island. Then we continued that journey to the most northern tip of the UP, Copper Harbor.Shadowdancer3 (2).jpegShadowdancer2 (2).jpegShadowdancer6.jpegShadowdancer7 (2).jpeg

When she was six months old she started showing in conformation and did pretty well. She really seemed to like strutting her stuff around the ring. I was very new at the whole show thing so Robin showed her in the early days and then I took over once she was an adult. She was a great dog for me to learn how to show with.Shadowdancer2 (2).jpegShadowdancer (2).jpeg                                                                           1996 being shown by Robin

As she got a bit older I started seeing some of the Chesapeake attitude come out, she could be stubborn and wanted to do things her way. We always managed to work it though. She had one little quirk that I used to kind of get a kick out of. If she really liked you she would give you little love pinches. She would walk up behind you and give you a little pinch right on your butt. She was careful not to hurt you, how she only got that small bit of skin with her front teeth amazed me. I always told people they should feel honored because she only did that to people she liked.

Our bond was like no other dog I had ever owned.  I adored her and she me! When she looked at me it was if she was looking deep down to my soul. Her eyes seemed to say it all. She was my constant companion and went everywhere with me. It didn’t matter what we were doing just as long as she was with me. She loved my nieces and nephews.Shadowdancer & kids

Then in 2004 she jumped out of my van one day and started limping. I thought she probably just jammed her leg and landed wrong but after a few days it wasn’t any better. I scheduled her to see her vet, I was still thinking it was probably nothing but wanted to get it checked out just in case. So off we went to the vet, she did an x-ray but when the Dr. came back into the room to talk to me I could tell by her face it was bad news. She showed me the x-ray that revealed bone cancer (osteosarcoma), I never expected the big C to come out of her mouth. She then informed me that bone cancer is very aggressive and most dogs only have about fourteen weeks once diagnosed.  If she were a younger dog we could have tried amputation but at eleven years old I did not feel that was something I wanted to put her through. So we went home with medication to make her comfortable. I started to prepare myself for the day I would have to make the dreaded decision of euthanasia. I prayed everyday that she would go in her sleep so I would not have to make that decision. But in the end I held her beautiful head in my lap stroking her face; she laid there calmly as if saying “this is right and I am ready”. On a very warm sunny afternoon in August I said good bye to my very best girl as the Dr. gave her the injection that would stop her pain. I will forever miss her. Even now after all these years I tear up and get a huge lump in my throat  just talking about her. Me & Shadowdancer

I had eleven and a half wonderful years with her, she was a fabulous companion and my best friend. I could ask for no more!

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Dog Shows…not a beauty pageant!

A few years ago I did a blog post on dog shows, so with the Westminster Show just around the corner I thought I would do another post.

Contrary to what a lot of people think Conformation Dog Shows are not a beauty pageant for dogs. These events are to present to a judge dogs who represent their breed as breeding stock capable of producing quality pure bred puppies.

The history of dog shows dates back to the mid 1800’s. The cream of the crop of dog shows and my favorite is the Westminster Show held at Madison Square Garden in New York.

The First Annual New York Bench Show of Dogs, given under the auspices of the Westminster Kennel Club, was staged in 1877 at Gilmore’s Garden (the forerunner of Madison Square Garden) in New York City, drawing an entry of 1,201 dogs.    (WestminsterKennelClub.org)

This year will mark the 140th year of for the Westminster Dog Show, February 15-16th. It is the second-longest continuously held sporting event in the United States behind only the Kentucky Derby and is the largest all breed show. You can read more on the history of the show here and here. The Westminster show is one of the few that are televised so you can watch from the comfort of your home; I know I’ll be watching. So why don’t you make some popcorn and sit back and watch the show and see if you can pick the winners. You can find more information on the upcoming Westminster Dog Show here

The very first thing to do prior to entering the ring is make sure you know the basics of showing a dog, how to stack, move and the different patterns a judge may ask you to do. You can do this by attending conformation classes where an instructor will take you through step by step with your dog to teach you how to present a dog to the judge. If you don’t have classes near you reach out to your breeder for suggestions.

If your dog requires grooming you must complete this prior to entering the ring. My breed requires very little grooming so I usually will just wet my dogs down a day or two before the show and towel them off to remove the dust, clip nails, clean ears, check teeth and we are ready to go.

Then you must select the show collar and lead that suits your need, I use different collars and leads depending on the dog I am showing and what works best for them. For some I may use a serpentine choke with a short show lead and for others I may use a nylon choke collar with a longer lead but I try to make sure what ever I use it matches as closely to the color of my dog as possible. Why use a color that matches your dog? You want the whole focus on your dog so you don’t want to have anything that would be distracting to the judge, this also incudes your wardrobe. You should blend in to the background not your dog.

Now as the exhibitor or also known as the handler you are ready to present your dog to the judge.

The role of the Judge is to examine the dogs and place them in accordance to how close each dog compares with their mental image of the “perfect” dog as described in the breed’s official standard.

These standards describe the characteristics that allow the breed to perform the function for which it was originated and include qualifications for structure, coat, temperament and movement.

These official written standards are maintained by each breed’s national club and published in AKC’s The Complete Dog Book, you can also find them here for each breed.

The entry is broken down into different classes so when it is your turn you will walk in the ring with the other exhibitors for your class if there are any and stack your dog, always keeping your dog on your left between you and the judge. Stacking Misty Shores Chesapeake Bay Retrievers (15)2is setting your dogs legs and body in a particular position that best shows their structure and angles. This first part usually happens very quickly and then the judge typically has everyone go around the ring once together and return to where you started and stack your dog for exam.

The Judge will examine or “go over” each dog with their handsNewfoundland Leroy to see if the teeth are correct, muscles, bones and coat texture match the standard. They examine each dog in profile for general balance, substance and overall conformation.  It is important that your dog has been properly socialized and trained so they are comfortable with someone touching them in this manner. An extremely shy or aggressive dog can be excused from the ring.

Then the Judge will ask you to move your dog, typically in a down and back watching the dog move away and toward them and then around so they can watch the dogs side gaitChesapeake Bay Retriever to see how all of those features fit together in action. The judge is watching to see if the dog looks capable of doing the job/function it was originated/bred to do. For example in my breed if a dog does not have good reach and drive they may not be able to cover ground efficiently to retrieve birds.

The Judge spends approximately two minutes on each dog going over them, moving them down and back and then around. So you have to be on your toes and pay attention.

Once the Judge has gone over each dog he/she will have the whole group move around the ring again and at this point they usually make their picks. Not everyone can be a winner but then there is always another show.

Click here to watch the video of the Chesapeake’s at Westminster in 2015  judged by Mrs. Dyane Baldwin. This will give you a full picture of what goes on in the ring. Enjoy!

Summer Fun

I am going back a couple years for this post.

In June of 2014 we participated/attended a fun weekend sponsored by the American Chesapeake Club (ACC). Some of these can be a lot of work but well worth it. It is a great way to socialize dogs, practice disciplines you may be interested in and socialize with other people in your breed as well as  other breeds.

It was a beautiful sunny weekend! We had an agility obstacle course set up, rally, we would have obedience and conformation time, field time and we would be offering the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test.

The attendance was fantastic. Jennifer Marenich was our instructor, she did a great job. We ended up having 20 dogs pass their CGC test; Maia and Titan were two of those. I worked with them the day before with several other people and overall they seemed ready but was I?!? You know when you get nervous the dogs feel that so I was trying not to be anxious,  just relax and have fun. That paid off! They passed and earned their CGC title.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Titan takes it literally about having fun!

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Titan CGC

The sit/stay. The dog is required to stay where you place them, then the owner walks to the end of a 20 f00t line turns and walks back. As you can see Titan did very well with this.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Maia CGC

Your dog must walk on a leash without pulling, Maia did great with this.

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Here the dog has to sit with someone while the owner goes out of sight for 3 minutes. To pass they have to be calm, they can look for you but they can’t act out. Titan waited for me patiently.

ACC Fun Weekend 2014 (2)

The whole group that passed their CGC

This is a great way to proof your dog socially. With that being said it doesn’t mean you stop socializing once you gain your title in particular with Chesapeake’s. But I will save that for another post.

Most everyone practiced on the agility equipment. This was so much fun, I had always wanted to try some stuff out with the dogs.

Maia and I tried the jumps, she actually liked doing it. This was the low jump.

This jump was quite a bit higher but she cleared it.

Maia (44)

Uhh I’m not too sure about this…

Chesapeakes Bay Retriever (4)

Titan really enjoyed doing this, we did it several times and even did it off leash once.

Titan

Wait…you want me to what…

Several people checked out the rally, conformation and obedience. Quite a few dogs practiced in the field. We were able to get some water work in also.

Chesapeakes Bay Retriever (3)

A little land work.

Titan (1)

And some water work.

I know there were some tired dogs at the end of the day. So what do you do for fun with your dogs?

Wordless Wednesday ~ Standing Pretty

St Clair KC September 14, 2013 2

Thanks to Michelle for sharing this photo with me.

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This ‘N That Thursday

Today we are joining 2BrownDawgs for their This ‘N That Thursday blog hop!

She says…

It’s a little of this and a little of that and everything in between…

Well we didn’t do to much at the dog show last weekend, the entry was small and we placed in our classes. Hailee and Riva were the only ones in their class so they received first place, she was very excited about this. I know how she felt, I remember the first time I showed a dog and won a ribbon, it is very exciting.

HaileeandRivaJuly62013MonroeAnnArborKC_zps4c901d20

It was very hot and humid that day and the girls were not on their best behavior. Riva wanted me and Maia wanted Riva, but we had fun anyway. Since it is a two hour drive we decided we would go out the day before and stay in a motel, we took advantage of having nothing to do and did a lot of laying around the whole day, ordered food in, and watched TV all day. We only went out when we needed to air the dogs wlEmoticon-smile.png  The room was nice except for the Boeing 747 air conditioner wlEmoticon-winkingsmile.png

Maia hanging out.jpg 1

As you can see Maia takes “laying around” literally.

While we were waiting for ring time I noticed the Rhodesian Ridgeback’s were in the ring across from us so I thought our friends Will and Eko from Marking Our Territory would like these. If you haven’t checked out Will and Eko’s blog hop over and say HI.

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I guess he was all tuckered out from the show wlEmoticon-smile.png

Well that wraps it up for us, grab the badge and join the hop.

This is a Blog Hop!

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Thanks 2 Brown Dawgs

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