I've noticed something.
I have become exclamation mark disabled. In my informal writing (email, blog, groups and lists) I usually evoke emphasis with
bold and italics,
BOLD AND ITALICIZED CAPS,
and three exclamation marks.
These tools, well, they're familiar friends really, have left me. Left town altogether. Vamoosed.
I think it's this new bloggy place to express myself. I mean this blog is for you, dear readers. So I can't bore you with wallowing. Ah... maybe another reminiscence?
Maria loved to lure course. I can't find any photos of her coursing, because she was in the days before digital photography. In lure coursing three dogs of the same breed chase a lure - three white garbage bags - on a string around a series of turns (think of the cats cradle string game, only instead of your fingers, there are pulleys nailed into the ground).
Whippets LOVE this game. Well, they love any game that involves running and chasing.
Maria was pretty fast, and her small size made her very agile; she could turn on a dime. She got her field champion title in fairly short order.
But there are RULES to this game. Number one rule is no aggressive activity ever. In lure coursing muzzles are optional, and most don't use them. (They are used for dogs who feel the urge to bite at the moving string or dive at the baggies, most often.)
Maria developed her own rules. RULES, I should say. Once she had moved up into the Field Champion division, some of the more experienced runners would cheat. Meaning, instead of following behind the baggies, they would guess which way the course would turn, and cut the corner. Maria was Highly Offended by this and would respond by running over to the cheater and SCREAMING, no, by SCREAMING in his or her ear.
"CHEATY PANTS CHEATY PANTS YOUR MOTHER IS A BASSET HOUND!!!"
I don't know why, but the judges took this as a sign of aggression, and no more lure coursing for the mouthy little redhead.
But she could race.
In racing, the whippets run in groups of six, out of a starting box, for 200 yards straight. No turns, no cheating. In racing they chase a furry lure, with a squawker inside, and a white garbage bag too. In racing, muzzles are mandatory, because all six whippets get to the end at around the same time, all bent on mauling the evil squawker lure.
Oh Maria did LOVE to race.
But by the time we started racing, she was not so fast. This did not diminish her love of it. This is a picture of Maria (#1) and her best ever friend Willow (#6). It looks like they are first and second, but I am quite comfortable in my assumption that they were last and next to last.
Can you see the smiles?
Maria only had one litter. Four girls and a boy. In the picture she is resting on Delia, with Promise and Pippin. I've never known her happier, and she loved her Luciano and Delia with all her maternal heart until her last day.
Showing Maria was a blast! She never did get her last win for her championship, and when she started to get bored with it we stopped. I could have sent her with a professional handler; she would have gotten her last win quickly. I had good handlers offer, frequently. But I just couldn't bear to send her away, or even to hand her to a professional ringside and then disappear. She drove my friends CRAZY. Good friends who were kind enough to hold her for me while I was in the ring with Caruso, Jazzbo, Giacomino, Willow, or Jessie.
Maria squeaked, trembled, cried, "MY TURN!!! MY TURN RIGHT NOW!!! I SAID IT IS MY TURN!!!!"
(To those of you who have held Lindy Loo ringside, she gets it honestly.)
There. It worked.
I found my exclamation points!!!
hug your hounds