Swede William as a 4 month old puppy. Photo Laurie Erickson. All the rest of the photos are Lisa Winder's unless noted
Best of Breed ring. Tim Parsons photo -thanks Cindy and Tim
There were 126 Champions entered in Best of Breed.
Sixty-three dogs and sixty-three bitches. Then you add in the three dog Veteran class winners (7 - 10 years, 10-12 years, and greater than 12 years) and the three bitch Veteran class winners, the Racing dog and bitch, the Coursing dog and bitch, Winner's Dog and Winner's Bitch, and the move ups (dogs who finished their championships after the entries closed), and that ball room ring was packed with whippets. Beautiful, beautiful whippets.
The bitches left the ring, and then the dog handlers counted off into groups of twelve. Swede William would be in the fifth group. That would give Lee and Dee and Lisa time for a nice breakfast, and it would give me time to give all of the dogs some much needed exercise. They had been cooped up for eight days now. First I took Swede William and his two kids, Jabber and Alison. I ran. I managed a pace so that they were trotting about as fast as they could.
I am not not not a runner. I could probably walk from here to Minnesota. But run? No. I tend to hyperventilate and collapse and vomit and it's just not a pretty site. So you will understand my nervousness/excitement quotient when I tell you that not only did I run that group for a solid twenty minutes, but then I swapped out the puppies for Mia (Lindy Loo was tired from being in the ring so long the day before) and did it again!
I have to tell you a funny story. While I was running William and the puppies a friend who was walking her one dog called to me, "You're insane!"
"Well, yes, we know that, but why are you telling me now?"
"Not only do you bring little puppies to the National, you bring Senior Citizens!"
I hadn't brought any old dogs this trip, so I figured she meant Lee and Dee. I told them what she'd said. We laughed and laughed and laughed. My van is a fifteen passenger monster, with no running boards, so it sits way high up in the air. I pack an antique wooden step stool, and when Lee has to climb in or out we plop the stool down. The van is full of crates and an ex-pen (wouldn't want the dogs to be cramped) so there is only room for two passengers. With the addition of Lisa, the Queen of Sweden, Lee sat on the back bench seat, Dee sat on the antique stool, and the Queen rode shotgun.
I imagine we were quite the sight. Lisa climbing down from the front, with her huge backpack and her camera with its three foot lens. The side doors opening up and a little wooden stool plopping down, followed by Dee and then Lee. But the thought that somehow these "seniors" added a burden had us laughing hysterically. These 'seniors' who make sure I get my entries in, take my dogs to the vet when I'm at work and can't, took care of all the dogs while I was at the hospital twice this week, hold the SCREAMING MEEMIES ringside at every show, bring a cooler of food for us and the dogs, and on and on and on!
Anyway, it was time for Swede William to go into the ring. This was only the second time Lisa had gotten to see him since she bravely and generously sent him to me in September of 2006. Oh and remember how I had looked at Simmer and exclaimed, "SHE'S FAT!"? Well Lisa had shown a little more tact, but had basically looked at Swede William and said, "HE'S TOO THIN!" So William had gotten to eat like a king since Monday and was looking pretty good.
I had never shown to this judge before. I felt confident that she would not penalize Swede William for his color, but beyond that I didn't know. (He was, as far as I know, the only solid blue fawn entered out of 670 whippets.) But she is a breeder judge, and understands that our standard says 'color is immaterial'. Or so I hoped. I dearly wanted Lisa to see him look good in the ring, and make just one cut.
William loves to show. He has a blast but takes it seriously. He is a grand little dog! Lisa and Crystal had been giving me handling pointers. Because of that, I didn't mess him up as much as usual on the table.
He moved like ohhh he just glided. I felt good. We showed the judge and everyone there the best we had. Now we'd see if he'd make this one cut. After all of that group was examined and moved we lined up around the edge of the ring again. The judge walked over to William.
And pointed at him!!! Yes!!! We'd made the cut! We'd come back in! She brought all of her cuts of males back in. The ring was full again. William made another cut! Oh my word! He wasn't letting down. There was a break for a moment and I let him play with his squeaky rat.
We made another cut! And another!
And then the judge pointed at Swede William to go to the center. We had made the final cut of dogs. We would go back in with the final cut of bitches to be considered for Best of Breed!
Making the last cut of dogs. Swede William says, "Oh puh-lease try to look professional, you goofy Servant!"
We took William out to the van to rest, walked the others, and ate some lunch. (I guess. I honestly can't remember. I think Dee and Lisa probably walked the others. I think they brought the puppies and Mia in for some attention for a while. I was operating in a dreamy fog.) Good God. Swede William had made the final cut of dogs in Best of Breed at the National. Good loving sweet Lord.
We went back in with the final cut of bitches.
We were in the ring with dogs who had been in the Top Twenty competition Thursday night, but I only saw my William. Lisa's William. He should have been tired or fidgety, but he was being a pro. A star. Oh dear mother of whippets we made another cut.
I started tearing up. Was there another cut? If there was we made it. At a show as large as the National, the AKC allows the judge to give Awards of Merit. These are given to dogs who, at a normal sized show would be worthy of Best of Breed. Our entry was so huge that the maximum number would be given. Ten Awards of Merit.
The judge was moving the dogs in place. The Veteran Moxie, already twice Best of Breed at past Nationals would be Best of Breed for a record setting third time. My Canadian friend would be Best of Winners with the Winner's Dog. Another Veteran would be Best of Opposite. The Selects.
She pulled out her #1 Award of Merit. Her #2 Award of Merit. And then she pointed at Swede William.
This was a crazy assed dream! NO!
Swede William, CH Burnt Sienna Midsummer Night, JC, was #3 Award of Merit at the American Whippet Club National Specialty.
And Lisa was there to see it. How cool was that?
hug your hounds