Name:
Location: one hour from Suffolk, Rockingham, and Scarborough, United States

I'm one of the co-authors of Point of Hopes, Point of Dreams, and The Armor of Light (which, contrary to some reviews is NOT a Points novel). Proud member of CoastLine SF, Piscataqua Obedience Club, and admin for Horseboard.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Dogs, Horses, and Automobiles

The second week in February is valued for one thing above all others, and no, Danny, it is NOT Valentine's Day.

Rather, it is that doggy celebration known as the Westminster Kennel Club show.

In the interests of full disclosure, I am something of a leveler when it comes to dogs and showing. I own a mixed breed. Always have, always will. I am a member of the United Kennel Club, or UKC. The UKC permits, nay, encourages mixed breed dogs to take part in performance (obedience) competition. The AKC, which says they promote responsible dog ownership, does not allow mixed breeds in any of their performance competitions (obedience, agility... Rally O, even, probably). I have no time or patience for that kind of useless and actively harmful elitism.

But I am a total pushover for the Westminster show. Those dogs are having fun, and they show it. The best of the best are like some great radiating presence on their own stage. Even as cool a customer as last night's winner, Carlee, demanded that all eyes be on her. Oh, she was perfect! (I was rooting for the Great Pyrenees, doubtless remembering fondly evenings spent at the Sea Dog brew pub in Camden, Maine, where the mascot was a Great Pyrenees.) Her self-stack should be an instructional
video, except it might cause too many handlers to despair.

My greatest pleasure in Westminster lies in seeing all the less popular breeds strutting their stuff. I love the Komondor and the Puli. The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is probably my favorite of all retrievers. The Belgian trio -- Malinois, Shepherd, and Tervuren -- are some of the most handsome dogs I have seen. Always delighted to see the "little captain," the Schipperke, and the "I know what I am doing and I will do it in my own time, thank you" Shiba Inu. Because of Vixen's own probable make-up, I am enchanted by the Shelties and the Whippets.

As the hosts, David Frei and Lester Holt said, my favorite dog is the last one I've watched. Of course, the beautiful thing about owning a mixed breed is that in one dog, you can have so many, and are free to love all the pure-breeds for what they contribute in one savvy, sassy, mutt!

As for horses, about which many people I know can write far more knowledgeably than I, well, I am having a total fan moment here. Gander is coming to Rye! I can tell from the crickets chirping that not too many of you know what that means. Gander is one of the most popular racehorses of recent years, among people who know racing, especially on the NY circuit. Sure, I love Smarty Jones, but Gander is Gander. A horse who, like those dogs at Westminster, knows he's good and knows he's loved. He's won Horse of the Year titles in New York and New England. His trainers, John and Tonya Terranova, always made sure he was accessible. My friend Barbara Livingston, when conducting photograph workshops, always brought her students by their barn at Saratoga. Well, Gander is now retired, and his owners are from NH, so it turns out that Gander will be spending his retirement at Peter Fuller's farm here on the Seacoast! Maybe he can do some publicity for EPONA!

Automobiles. The middle of February also means Speed Weeks and the Daytona 500! While I hate, loathe, abominate, and despise the new points system, it's hard to be churlish (yet) when my favorite driver has locked in the pole position for this great American race. Yes, sir, Dale Jarrett has given notice that he's not to be counted out, after two less than typical years for him and the #88 UPS Ford Taurus. There are many reasons I like and admire Dale Jarrett. He's a canny, patient driver, the kind who can start at the back of the pack and end up leading and winning. He's a gentleman -- he will not wreck you. And, of all the NASCAR drivers, he is the only one whose primary charity concerns women's health -- he supports the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation . All around class act, D.J., and I hope to see him in Victory Lane on Sunday afternoon!

(Oh, you may have noticed -- how could you not! -- all the links in here, all of a sudden. I had one of those "bang the rocks together, guys" moments, downloaded the newest version of Netscape, and lo and behold, all those bells and whistles heretofore denied me are now mine to command. Be afraid. Be very afraid.)

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