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By:Jan Rifkinson 
Date: October '99 


1999 Bouvier Specialty

Monday, Oct 11th
The Olympia Resort & Spa, Oconomowoc, WI

Monday, 5:30am.   My good morning ear licks from Truman.  "Later" I commanded.  Well Truman understands "later" to be a snooze alarm.  Dutifully he was back licking my ear in 10 minutes.  One look @ my watch, the dark sky, the very early, early morning news & Truman's face was enough to convince me it was a lost cause.

So he got a few scritchies (Carol Rauch can explain a scritchie) & listened patiently to a muddled monologue while I tried to untie my mental cobwebs.  A nap.  Maybe I sneak in a nap.  Truman -- "lie down", "be quiet", "go to sleep", "later" -- I threw in all the commands I could think of.  Truman (who's not @ his best early in the morning either) turned away, jumped onto the other bed & collapsed against the pillows having completed  his work.

Ahhhhhhh, another nap, maybe?  Back under my covers, still warm, I rearranged the thin pillows into an acceptable lump & dozed off.

The phone rang.  "Good morning" Carol Rifkinson said cheerily.  "Did you sleep?  How's the hotel?  How's Truman?  Was he a good boy?  Did he eat?  Did you take your pills?  It's raining here.  Sabrina's fine.  I took her out.  She keeps looking for you but I think she's finally settling down."  Hi, I said.   It's 5:45 here in the Midwest & everything's fine.  "Go back to sleep", Carol commanded as I closed my clamshell cellular & hung up to try again.

Truman's snooze alarm went off about ten minutes later so I gave up.

OK, I'll get the boy some food.  Carefully packed away were helpings of  an Innova-Ca Natural mix -- enough for 12 days -- & 2 aluminum dishes.  I remembered how heavy it all felt by the time I got the 4th floor; all that food packed away with his grooming tools, toys, assorted leashes & a pair of work boots.

Unceremoniously I dumped the dry food in a dish & decided to take a shower.

It took all of the 4 skimpy bath towels to dry me off & Truman hadn't touched a thing in his dish so I got down on the floor & tried to hand feed him a little thinking he would need his strength.  Nah, forget it.  Truman climbed back up on the other bed again & went back to sleep.  So I shaved, dressed in my black uniform & watched the early morning news.

9am - Agility.

On one side of the hotel, fronted by an access road to the condos on one side, the tennis courts on the other & separated from the golf course on the third side by some scrawny white pines, lay the agility area.  Those folks had worked hard the day before to set up a nice course & there was a goodly number of people milling around.  I greeted a couple whom I knew from B.O.N.E. (Bouvier Owners North East) & trotted up to the ring. A woman with a lot of energy briskly moved towards me & asked if I was Jan Rifkinson.  "Yes", I answered carefully, not knowing what to expect.  Hi, she said, I'm Shelley Bowman, nice to meet you (extending her hand). Are you watching or participating?  'Watching". Shelley & I chatted briefly; I so admired her positive energy & good cheer, realizing *this* was the real beginning of my national specialty experience.

Suzanne Simms also introduced herself & offered computer help if I felt deprived. I didn't.  She was full of southern hospitality & it was nice to put a face to an email.

The agility judge was a tall guy -- 6'5" +/- who called everyone together for instructions, then allowed the handlers to walk the field without their dogs.  Competition began.  There were all kinds of breeds &  for the time that I watched, I was impressed by the support that everyone rcvd no matter the breed, the club, the dog the politics or the performance.

Some competitors were down right funny.  One example that comes to mind was Chuck Conklin's  CH I'm Special Vintage Classic who took off like a shot but when he got to the weave polls, went into ultra slow motion -- iiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnn, ooooouuuuuutttttttt, iiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnn, ooooouuuuuutttttttt -- while Chuck stood over him clapping his hands in quick rhythm hoping to speed up the process.  No such luck but it gave us all a good chuckle.  However, as soon as he had made it thru all the weave poles, Tucker sped up again & finished just 1 or 2 seconds off the required time. However, Joyce Lak's bitch came in 2nd place after putting in a fine performance & we all congratulated her while tried to cheer up Chuck.  Day 2 was a different story (Tucker eventually became the highest scoring Bouvier in the trials -- agility, obedience & herding, --  a wonderful accomplishment.)  More on that another time.

Mid afternoon I returned to my room to discover the msg light flashing so I called down to the front desk.  The manager wanted me to tell you that you will be "penalized" for not having a crate in your room said the message person.  Fine, I said, you do what you've got to do & I'll do the same.  A few more choice words & I hung up.

Then I considered some possible "penalties" -- paper cups instead of plastic cups.  6 face towels instead of 4 bath towels & 2 face towels or worse, paper towels. No coffee machine.  Lock me out of the basic cable channels.  No extra roll of toilet paper.  Make me & Truman sleep on one bed (not so bad except he snores). Or worse -- expulsion.  So I made a back up reservation at the friendly, less costly, dog friendly, nearby Holiday Inn just in case but the thought of packing & moving again left me numb.  If that happened, I decided, I will take all my bags & Truman, go down the elevator, march to the front desk to check out and if they didn't like that, well.......

Instead, I went back downstairs to the agility area to spread the news while hoping  no one else would get "penalized".

Mid afternoon, Maureen Patterson & I went shopping @ the local super market.  It was there that I decided I wasn't going to spend one additional penny @ the spa place.  So I stocked up on apples, cottage cheese, yellow cheese, bottled water (for Truman), chocolate donuts, yogurt & milk (for moi).  Truman ate better that night.

That night, 17 of us invaded a pretty good local restaurant & had a ball.  Let's see, there was Deborah Profant, her brother, Michael & his wife.  Chuck & Sue Conklin.  David & Susan Frye.  Nicky & Maureen Patterson.  Joyce Lak & Tony Fusco, Jackie, Claire McClean & her handler whose name I didn't know until later.  Including myself, that's 15 so either I owe 2 people an apology or there were only 15 of us.  There was one very funny, exceptionally good natured waitress who handled all of us quite well.  It was Sue Conklin's birthday but she had threatened retaliation if anyone dared to recognize it.  So Nicky & Tony quietly went off & ordered a cake with candles & we all sang happy birthday to Sue with great gusto.

Truman was asleep in the car -- I wasn't about to leave him in that unfriendly hotel.  We drove home, took a quick walk in the permitted areas -- no urinating on the trees, by the way -- and went up to our room to sleep.

More agility & the first herding trials awaited us the next day.

click below for
Specialty Diary - Tuesday


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