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By:Jan Rifkinson
Date: October '99


1999 Bouvier Specialty
 Saturday's Schedule 

Conformation, Awards, Banquet, the Auction & Rubber Chickens

Saturday, the *really* big day... maybe

By Saturday, the grounds now being really saturated with dog presence,  it was almost impossible to get Truman to decide on an acceptable spot to "unload" within the permissible "exercise" areas.  There were so many spots to re-mark, so many places to check out with long, deep inhalations.  At times only quick sniffs accompanied by teeth clacking sufficed but there were so many final drops of urine to deposit here & there, that the process seemed to take forever.  And to make matters worse the Olympia Hotel & Spa dictated that dogs were *not* allowed to urinate on the trees.

Olympia Resort & Spa Rule #7 (of 13) "Use the designated exercise areas only and clean up after your dog(s).  Exercising will not be allowed near the main entrance, near pool, volleyball courts or golf course."

Since the hotel was built between the golf course, the pond/swimming pool, and paved parking areas which were @ it's front, side & back, it didn't leave much space for 200-300 dogs to do their thing.  Eventually, we spread out, though. A little crap here & there couldn't possibly have equaled what we, the guests, had to put up with.

Micky Rein, Truman's handler had flown in the night before from Massachusetts to see Bouvfriends, hang out & to handle Truman in the center ring.

When this finally happened, Truman showed well but didn't even make the selects this time around - no fault of Mickey's (nor Truman for that matter).

Had you asked a number of knowledgeable Bouvers, I suppose they would have put their money on David & Sondra Reiser's CH I'm Special The Heat Is On, aka "Sir", # 150, Truman's littermate.  Indeed, "Sir" did take BOB to great applause.  He looked great. 

BOS was CH Galbraith's Pik of the Litter, aka Ken & Nancy Almgren's "Effie".  More applause.

But let's back up a moment.

I don't know how many Bouviers were entered in conformation but they were an impressive lot & everyone had a right to be proud.  It's what always amazes me the most at the specialties (I've been to two) -- just seeing all those wonderful Bouviers des Flandres under one roof.  I was reminded of the bicycles I saw on the streets of Shanghai, China -- thousands of them.  I could never get over the sight.

I'm also amazed by how much grooming work goes on behind the scenes for a breed that is supposed to look tousled, have a fairly long coat that's not supposed to require extensive care or hours of stripping, brushing, washing, drying, combing & clipping.  While some deride such ministrations, it still takes a lot of time & it is a lot of work.  It can be done correctly or not so correctly.  It's a bit of art, some knowledge, and a lot of "elbow grease".

The always service oriented Olympia Resort & Spa had set up two tubs outside the exhibition hall for washing the Bouvs. Sometimes the weather was warm, sometimes it wasn't, sometimes it rained, sometimes the sun was out.  But what choice did anyone have? 

Olympia Resort & Spa Rule # 6 (of 13):  "Dogs must not be bathed/groomed in the sleeping rooms.  This will lead to severe clogging of drains, as well as housekeeping problems.  Bathing stations have been provided for this purpose.  As a guest, you will be responsible for any damages that occur in your room."

And of course there was Olympia Resort & Spa Rule # 4: (of 13) "The use of hotel linens for bathing dogs is not permitted."   Hmmmmm.

Anyway, @ this point in the narrative, I must express my sincerest gratitude to Jan Litogot (Truman's breeder) & Chuck Conklin (a friend & Truman's handler @ Sunday's show) for stripping Truman down, trimming him up, brushing him out, giving him a cute "tush" & a neck which showed off what's left of his beard after Sabrina got finished with it.  We called him "puppy head" but he looked great & he knew it.

But it was the same all over.  Imagine, if you will, a room at least 100' x 50' (maybe larger) jammed with crates & grooming tables.  Bouviers standing, sitting, lying down, patiently waiting while their human caretakers worked on them.

Every once in a while a low growl or annoyed bark would emanate from the depths of a darkened crate.  Others would join in & then the cacophony would die down leaving only the whines of 30-40 hair dryers & the buzz of so many clippers.

Many of the equipment boxes & cases were elegant & impressive -- ranging from stainless steel to hand carved wooden affairs that had to worth at least a couple of bucks. Leads & leashes hung on crates to prevent people (like me) from losing them.

Around the room there were a few colorful banners identifying the kennel or club. And for a day or so prior to Saturday, there had been problems with the amount of electrical power that had been allotted to this room.  But that had been resolved in time for the big day.

I handed Truman off to Mickey Rein @ 8:00am, wished her luck, kissed him goodbye & ran for the hills. Truman has at least two problems besides his beard:  He will search a room for me & lose his concentration & he gets bored if he hangs around too long before an event -- any event.  When that happens, he starts "speaking up" & "tuning out". So it's always a bit tricky getting the timing just right.  And then I can't really watch what he's doing because I have to hide behind people or doors or something.

Promptly @ 9am, the conformation ring came alive with the hairy beasts.  And like the Shanghai bicycles, Bouviers were everywhere.  They lined up according to their show registration #s so there was a lot of armband checking, a little jockying around, some squeezing into line, all the while making sure there were no canine conflicts.  Finally, standing before us, was a wonderful array of Bouviers.  There were a few conversations going on, a couple of barks, a few tails wagged (Paris for one), but mostly everyone looked grim. But, wow, all those beautiful Bouviers.

Each Bouv & handler went thru their paces back & forth & around the ring -- each to a hand of applause -- until the winners & selects were finally made. Sir seemed like a "popular" win, Effie, too.

And so it ended....the big day.

Ahead was the big night -- the awards banquet & auction to be held in a "banquet" room on a lower level across from the first floor dining room & bar.

The big guns sat together @ a table up front near the podium.  The rest of us spread out around the room.  The choice for main course was chicken or beef & there was a bar where you could buy drinks from a 6'3" very sociable, blond bombshell dressed in a short top (sometimes you could see a little skin) & a tight fitting long dress.  Let's just say that she showed well in the ring.  The drinks came in plastic cups.

In reverse order of the evening's events, the auction was fun -- Nancy Almgren & Lee Lockhead were the frick & frack auctioneers -- one funnier than the next.  The bidding was brisk & Ken Almgren, with a few drinks under his belt, ended up buying a bunch of stuff including a hand painted "doggie" skirt that he tried on over his pants.  He was a good sport.  There were some interesting items up for grabs & I guess a fair sum of money was raised. 

The awards were handed out & I'm proud to say I was sitting at a table with an award winner -- Chuck & Sue Conklin's Tucker took high score honors -- agility, herding & obedience.  Do you realize how much work that is?  We all cheered.  But everyone who got an award was, of course, just as deserving & they were all noisily congratulated.

Preceding the auction & awards, was the banquet which was bad enough to be considered in the same league as the Olympia's plastic cups, small towels, thin sheets, chintzy bed covers, foul tasting water, industrial carpet, soggy sandwiches & bad attitudes.  And I wasn't asked to pay for the meal so if Nancy Eilks (or someone) will tell me how much I owe for this mistake & to whom to mail the check, I'll do it 'cause I try to be an honest guy.

Instead of describing the banquet spread, I'd like to tell you about a different meal. Now I've forgotten the day of the week it took place, but it was good food, fine company & it was fun.

It seems there are always a bunch of people who appear at these events who own "I'm Special" Bouviers. And the '99 Specialty was no exception. And at each specialty the routine is generally the same -- Pat Murray arrives by car, Jan Litogot (Pat's mother) & Bob follow in the motor home.  They groom *all* the "I'm Special" kids & organize an "I'm Special" dinner with *all* the "I'm Special" parents. This year we selected a steak house with a sterling reputation and the restaurant didn't disappoint.

So at one long table & one small table sat a disparate group of people from all parts of the country who had "I'm Special" Bouviers in common.  Let's see... there was Jan & Bob Litogot, of course, Deborah Profant, Nicky & Maureen, Pat Murray, Cyndi Routledge, Chuck & Sue Conklin, Brenda Simpson, the Fryes, Robin & Ed, and others.  It was a fun night & when it came time to leave, the Litogots quietly picked up the check for all of us -- a totally unnecessary but extremely generous gesture.  

It wasn't enough that they had sold all of us "Special" Bouviers.  It didn't make the evening better. It just made it even more "Special".

Sunday, the first annual NE Illinois Bouvier des Flandres Club regional specialty awaited us.

click below for
Specialty Diary - The End

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