At this time last year I was driving everyone around me crazy as I prepared for my trip in early March to the UK, Crufts, and most importantly to pick up the Monkey Man (aka Dublin) and meet his family. Obviously that's not in the cards this year. But it makes this a perfect time to share some pictures from my trip and all the fun stuff and great people I met there. However that's for another post - possibly today, possibly tomorrow.
As I sat at the kitchen table the other night with the Monkey Man at my feet, I wondered why I wasn't berating him for putting a huge hole in the top of a 400 varikennel. He had stuck his head through that hole (yeah, it was that big!) and was waiting for me when I got home looking like a strange, unwatered Chia pet. I know he isn't fond of crates but in a household with this many dogs you have to spend some time in a crate, particularly when there's no one home. Face it, I have a real weakness for the Monkey Man no matter how much trouble he gets into and he gets into lots and lots of trouble. I've been thinking that it was time to get him into the show ring as he is slowly starting to fill out and lose that teenage lankiness. We practise stacking and baiting but not gaiting as I can't run at all at the moment. Anyway, back to the other night. I realized that I really want to show him myself. I know Dad and Lindsay would be glad to show him but I want to do it myself. I haven't been able to comfortably show a dog for a long long time and I'm really looking forward to it. So, the Monkey Man will be my first show dog post-recovery. I bet we knock the socks off everyone :)
I have been invited to judge Sweepstakes for a giant schnauzer club this summer. I'm really looking forward to it. I'm not yet approved for giants so a sweeps is a nice way to work with the breed in the ring. It's also a chance to see more than the occasional giant entered at a show. We have very few giants at least in my part of Ontario so seeing more than one or two is always a treat. They warned me the entry would not be large as the total specialty entry is likely to be quite small but I'm excited about it nonetheless.
(Warning this is where I get on my soapbox so you may want to ignore it!)
In many breeds, including GSPs, you will often that a dog does a lot of winning and suddenly becomes the dog to breed to; the flavour of the month so to speak. If the dog is a really good specimen (which sadly is not always the case although it often is) this is not necessarily a bad thing. He may have traits that many breeding programs are weak in and be a good match for the bitch being bred. However, more goes into choosing who sires your litter than just how he looks. Or at least it should but too many folks get caught up in the "he won lots and therefore if I breed to him my puppies will win lots too" and there are too many breeders out there who have producing big winning champions as their goal as opposed to producing the best GSP possible. You need to be looking in both sire and dam at weaknesses (and all dogs have weaknesses) in conformation, pedigree, health, temperament, what they consistently produce and how they age. The latter may seem like an odd thing but the vast majority of GSPs produced will be pets and all dogs, no matter what their heritage, deserve to age comfortably with as little deterioration of the joints and discomfort from weak rears, etc as possible. Breeding is as much a science as it is an art and while there are lots of things we cannot predict due to the complexity of genetics, we owe it to the dogs to research and understand as much as possible about what we predict with relative accuracy. For instance, you can breed generations of beautiful dogs with OFA fair hips (a poor rating for those of you unfamiliar with OFA, the dog is not dysplastic but the hip conformation is not particularly good either). If you keep linebreeding on those dogs it stands to reason that eventually you will produce bad hips. It's just plain logical. It's not only stupid to do it it also subjects the product of that linebreeding to years of discomfort due to bad hips.
OK, I'll get off the soapbox...sorry for ranting, it bothers me when people just put together dogs willy-nilly without doing their research first.
On a nicer topic - here are some pictures of the newly named Becca (formerly known as Beans) from Newfoundland: