Friday, July 22, 2005

This is Alaska, and this is her, um, female dog, Emily

Yesterday I heard that word more frequently than I have, I think, in my previous 37 years on the planet. I was, of course, at a dog show. Emily and I went over there to meet with a breeder who lives a few hours away and knows a thing or two about red/apricot poodles. I'd been doing my homework into what it would involve to breed Emily and after many emails and much Internet surfing, I'd contacted Terry. Terry had, by chance, planned to be here in State College this weekend for the dog show, and he agreed to take a look at Emily and evaluate her. You're not supposed to breed a female who would not "further the breed." Now that Emily is older, I thought I'd better have someone tell me if she really was of breeding stock.

So we went over to the fairgrounds and walked around looking at the RVs, the dogs in their pens, the puppies in their pens, the 60-year-old men and women sitting in folding chairs under their RV awnings. Emily was beside herself there was just so much to SMELL. I liked looking at all the dogs. The whole place was surprisingly quiet.

Eventually with the help of a cell phone I found Terry's RV. He was friendly, smart, and had that air of one who has been through the wringer in life and came out on the other side of it sure of himself, content with the life he has carved out, and independent of the opinion of the others. In short, I liked him immediately. His partner was busy doing I'm not sure what, but it had the air of chores and we said polite hellos but didn't talk much beyond that. He seemed maybe a little shy.

We spent a little over an hour talking and most of it was Terry giving me a crash course on poodle conformation (what a "perfect" poodle would have in the way of physical characteristics) and where Emily stood in all of that. (She's got great feet, but her head is too "wide".) [Chris has been walking around the house for the last day snuggling her up and then telling her in his Emily-dog voice that she's an ugly poodle and it's a shame she's so darn long but at least she has all her teeth.] He went over the tests she should have and there are more than twice as many as the ones her sire and dam have -- but two of them are adrenal system related and since I lost my absolute favorite cat ever, an Abyssinian, to a breed-related kidney problem, I don't have any problem doing more than Emily's breeder did. Losing her was devastating and I gather the increase in kidney problems in apricot poodles is relatively recent.

Are you yawning yet?

Well anyway, Terry went in to his RV at one point to get one of his other dogs to illustrate a point he was making and I looked at my cell phone and realized with horror that it was MUCH later than I thought and Max's swim meet had already started. So I choked out some thanks and then we ran the entire way back to the truck. There was nothing to be done for it. Emily had to come to the swim meet.

Well, Emily may have to come to all the fall football games, too because she was a HUGE hit with the other kids. Oh the petting and the attention and the celebrity-like status she had! She occasionally looked at me with a plea for peace, but in general, she knew it was only what she deserved. After Max's third race Chris and Gaye and the twins went home and they took Emily with her. I got a little knitting done and then it was Max's final race. We packed up and headed home.

Today Gaye went back to Northern California. We decided she'd come back for Halloween and the twins' birthday as she was getting in the truck to go to the airport. Then I went back in the house and sat down to work and most of the rest of the day was a quiet one. I worked on getting information for Max's football league because for some reason I wasn't getting league email. Max went to a friend's house to play and I took Emily and we went back to the fairgrounds for a bit.

Terry had said he'd introduce me to the groomer who works at the very place I took Emily to last week -- she actually lives an hour away and only works there twice a week, but she has her own poodles and she is, apparently, a well-known breeder. He must've already told her about our conversation because the introductions were about two minutes long. I had walked this time into a picnic he was having with his friends and while I didn't feel that I had annoyed him, I suffered a sudden attack of shyness and I stammered my thanks for the introduction, promised to call her at the time she'd requested and left.

From there Emily and I went over to the vendor area where we found a bottle of mildly medicated shampoo for Thor's itchy skin. A funny: when I walked up to one booth the vendor smiled and said, "What can I get for you squirt?" Indeed, among this crowd I'm just a kid. But I MUST be getting old because what they were doing looked like a heck of a lot of fun to me. Drive around in a big, fancy RV eating fried chicken and BBQd corn and talking about your dogs. I tried to imagine Chris and I pouring over maps and magazines trying to figure out a way to make the most national RC car races and dog shows. It doesn't seem like a big stretch of the imagination. We like road trips, he's balding, I'm plump, I think of my dogs as an honest-to-goodness child substitute, he's the kind of guy who will camp anywhere -- as long as there's hot water and a fridge involved. Yep. I see an RV lifestyle in our distant future. That our RV will be the only one blasting 80's rap is a topic for another blog ;)

We headed home and I tossed Thor in the sink. He put on a long-suffering expression and let me soap him down and rinse him off, but he broke down and let himself openly enjoy being brushed out afterwards. He's such a funny dog -- and so much more fun to cuddle and pet after a bath :)

Emily lay around and looked happy while I made dinner. Now I'm reclining in bed with a few of the pages of the book I'm supposed to be editing and keeping every puppy but Max company while they fall asleep. Max and Chris are watching Star Wars. I have the anniversary CD playing at lowest volume on the laptop. Life is good.

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