Thursday, December 6, 2007

Dog Show Delight

Last Saturday, I visited the Eukanuba National Championship dog show at the Long Beach Convention Center. It was loads of fun, and I’m delighted I was there.

I don’t show dogs--not even my beloved Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. But I admire people who do--who have that kind of dedication to their favorite breed. And I did watch some of the conformation challenges, but I admit I had other primary goals in going.

So why did I attend? Well, for one thing, I was doing some research into dogs I wanted to include in my next Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mystery. Some of Kendra’s best friends are mixed breeds, but some are purebreds, too. And of course, coincidentally, Kendra’s own pet is a Cavalier named Lexie... just like mine.

Speaking of purebreds, one of the enjoyable things about this show was a booth dedicated to the movie “Underdog,” which will soon be out on DVD. It wasn’t just a plain booth with sample DVDs and movie hype. No, sitting there were a couple of the stars--a beagle who was probably the real Underdog... and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who played his love interest, Polly Purebred. Of course I introduced myself... to the trainer as well as the dogs.

One of the highlights of the show to me was the plethora of other booths, each of which featured a dog breed. I picked up information on several I’m considering introducing Kendra to. And the best booth of all was... you guessed it! The one that featured Cavaliers.

Well, okay, I’m partial. I admit it. But the booth was a work of art. The breeders who staffed it were all dressed in period costumes, possibly from the time of King Charles II, who popularized the little spaniels that were the forerunners of today’s Cavaliers. In the background was a lovely, functioning fountain. And in the front were Cavaliers--one of each of the four colorations--Blenheim (red and white), Tricolor, Ruby and Black and Tan.

I’m not the only one who admired the booth. A lot of attendees stopped and oohed and ahhhed over the pups. And petted them. And probably fell hard for them.

Plus, like the dogs, the booths at the show also were pitted against one another, and the Cavalier booth won in the toy dog category. Definitely well deserved!

I was really happy that I met a few of the really wonderful Cavalier breeders there. I’ve started to contact some by e-mail, and it was helpful to associate names with faces--although I admit that I’m really awful at that and have always been so. That means I probably mistook at least one person for someone else I’d tried to start a correspondence with. Mea culpa!

And why have I tried starting such correspondence? Well, as I reported in earlier blogs this year, we’ve been mourning the loss of our older Cavalier. But I think it’ll soon be time to get Lexie a new Cavalier puppy as an eventual friend... once she gets used to sharing the household again. Okay, I’m projecting here. The pup’s for me, too, and not just Lexie. And for my husband as well, although he’s leaving the quest primarily to me.

I’m finding the search this time a bit difficult, since patience is not my middle name. But I definitely want to go only to reputable breeders who care about their Cavaliers and provide health exams to minimize the health problems that sometimes appear in the breed. I want to make sure people know how to contact me if they happen to have a potentially suitable puppy for me to meet and fall in love with.

Some people reading this may be disgruntled that I’m not considering heading to a shelter and adopting an orphan pup--at least not right now. I understand that, but hope they’ll be understanding of me as well. I’m happy that there are as many opinions about mixed breeds and pedigrees as there are dog lovers. Diversity is generally a good thing.

But I’ve loved Cavaliers for over 30 years, and though each one’s different, I know in general their characters: sweet, loving, cuddly lap dogs. To me, Cavaliers are always winners!


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