Saturday, September 11, 2010

another cycle

The summer came and went, as summers always seem to, in a blur of perfect days. My walking partner and I comment on what a perfect day it is for a walk...every day. Rain. Shine. Wind. Heat. In summer, of course it's perfect. But now the golden rod is coming into its glory and the doves, what few of them there seem to be left, are gathering on the phone wires to converse about their upcoming trip. The faintest blush is creeping into the hilltops, foretelling the changes to come. In some respects I welcome it...being relieved from garden duty will return many daily hours back to the hopper for redistribution to other activities.

Just in time, since the turning of the season brings an onslaught of fall dog activities. Looking at the calendar this morning I realized there is only one weekend left between now and the end of October that doesn't have a commitment to a dog show or trial. I'm tired just thinking about it. It's not only the shows themselves, although running for hours around a ring can be exhausting. It's what it takes to turn a well-bred dog into a winner, a true show dog. Show potential is what a promising pup is born with; actual show dogs are made, not born.

People who see and appreciate the quality of my dogs can't truly grasp what goes into those radiant, glowingly healthy animals...the hours spent "road-working" the dog (which can mean biking him, running her over hill and dale, putting the dog on a treadmill, or literally plodding miles on the road) to develop the muscling and endurance required for a true canine athlete. The hours grinding and preparing meat, or for that matter raising that meat, to give the dogs the nutrition and energy needed to perform at that peak level, not to mention providing them with a brilliant coat, flashy white smile, and the "look of eagles" described in the standard. The hours driving to trainers, stud dogs, seminars, airports, training fields, tracking fields, socialization opportunities, vet visits. And that's every day of the when show season hits and the competition is fierce, the effort gets ramped up several notches. The dogs owners have to become top athletes, as well, so I find myself running hills and doing wind sprints just to have any hope of keeping up with my dogs.

Sure, I just got back from the wilderness in Colorado, struggling along under the weight of a backpack at 13,000 feet, so "walking the doggies" (which conjures a WHOLE other image for most people, versus what I actually do with mine!) and running around a show ring ought to be a cakewalk, right? In response I'd say backpacking up the Continental Divide is a good start, but had I just finished up a show season before the backpacking trip, I'd have been buff enough to have skipped up those mountains!