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May 8th, 2009:

Bichonicon, Day 3


Things kicked into high gear today at the Bichon Frise National Specialty here in St. Louis. The seminars are over and the judging began bright and early at 8:30 AM. There are quite a few different classes: Puppy dog (and here, “dog” means “male dog”) puppy bitch, junior handler, open dog, and open bitch, among others. Carol showed Aero in the Amateur Owner/Handler class, where he took first place. The class is for people like us, who buy a show-quality puppy and do the show circuit but do not breed dogs. We own Aero and Carol handles him (meaning that she takes him physically to shows and runs him around the ring) but we aren’t doing it for money, hence “amateur.” There are professional breeders and professional handlers, though how much money can be made there is a seriously open question. Just about all of us do it for love, and a few of us (very few) make a buck or two here and there. (Just like fiction writing, no?)

Carol almost got second place in the Winners Dog class; the judge had Carol take Aero around the ring a second time and was clearly considering him, but then someone else got the red ribbon.

Our friends have done well too: Mary Provost (who draws the show logo cartoons) took Reserve Winners Bitch with her new puppy Mona Lisa, and Laura Pfab’s daughter Kirsten won Junior Handlers with their new adult dog Ron Stoppable.

I’d say more, but it’s late and I’m getting cross-eyed here. Everybody had a good time, and although Aero’s blue ribbon did not come with any points, we’ve learned a lot about grooming and showing from the old pros here. Everybody says that Aero almost can’t avoid becoming a champion–he just needs to hit a few more shows and keep his tail up. I think we can do that. We will certainly try.

Tomorrow is our second shot in the ring, and then it’s back home to Chicago up I-55.