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May 7th, 2009:

Bichonicon, Day 2


Last night was the awards banquet and rescue auction for the Bichon Frise National Specialty show here in St. Louis. All the bichon powers from the Denver/Springs axis were gathered at one table, plus a couple of old friends from as far away as Pittsburgh. As that sort of dinner goes, it was exceptional: We had roast tenderloin of beef, with new potatoes, carrots, and string beans. (I gave my string beans to Carol, but the rest of it was spectacular–even the carrots.) The weakest part of the meal was the cheesecake dessert, but that was certainly workmanlike, and we all enjoyed the meal immensely, at least on the merits of the food.

I admit, I was something of an outsider. All but one of our tablemates were women, and most of them had attended a seminar on dog reproductive health and whelping earlier that day. I like puppies a great deal, but I’m not passionately interested in seeing them happen in Technicolor and real time. And of course, the old pros at the table all had their own whelping hax, honed over many years of ushering new puppy life into the world. Much was said about the “stuck puppy” problem, which is about what you think and can be fatal. I was hoisting a nice, medium-rare chunk of tenderloin on my fork when one of the venerable whelpers at the table offered the wisdom that “you can insert your index finger into the bitch’s rectum and re-orient a stuck puppy…”

Some mental images take a minute or two to remove from one’s head. I seized that opportunity to set my fork down and head for the men’s room, hoping that we’d be on to something better by the time I got back.

And we were. The rest of the meal was uneventful, and we nibbled our cheesecake while the raffle prizes were awarded (generally hand-made bichon crafts) and the auction conducted, for the benefit of the national Bichon Frise Rescue group.

This morning was a quiet one for me; Carol wanted to watch the Obedience and Rally events, and I mostly kicked back and read a book, unless one of our friends was in the ring. Obedience is just that: tests to see how well a dog listens and obeys relatively complex commands. Rally is peculiar; it’s basically close-order drill for dogs, with dog and handler working through a course of various commands like 270-degree and 360-degree turns.

I fetched back lunch and snacks as needed, and held QBit down while Carol practiced shaping the hair over his rump. (QBit does not like having his butt fussed with. Maybe he’s heard too much about those whelping seminars.) By midlate afternoon all of our friends had had their turns in the ring, and we went back to our room and napped for an hour. We caught a quick supper outside at Panera (or St. Louis Bread Company, as they call it here) in gorgeous if slightly humid weather. Carol is now bathing Aero, and after she dries him, our more experienced friends will be over to the room here to offer advice on getting him brushed and scissored into championship form.

Aero hits the ring tomorrow eleven-ish, and whereas he’s in pretty good shape overall, he is competing not against two or three other bichons (as he often does at smaller dog shows) but well over a hundred. Carol’s putting her back into it and we’re hoping for the best, but much depends on how well Aero “baits”; that is, how focused he is on Carol with a piece of bacon between her lips. Aero doesn’t bait easily, and he tends toward rowdiness. The dog show thing for him is a glorious opportunity to wrestle with his own kind, even (or especially) when he should be daintily prancing around the ring. He’ll get his chance, and I’ll be on the sidelines, taking movies and praying that nobody nearby is in heat. Sex trumps even bacon–but you knew that.

I’ll let you know how it all goes.