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Is it worth traveling to Dog Shows?

by Sue McClure


As Mary and I were leaving Birmingham, where we met up to continue on to the Canadian Specialty together, she noted that her family thought she was nuts. I glanced at her and said "Mary, we are driving 2 days one-way for one dog show... I think we are nuts!"Is it worth traveling to Dog Shows?


But with 1,700 miles to think about it, I changed my mind. Were it not for my involvement in dogs, I would not have been gazing out at the red, white, yellows and purples painting the landscapes in Pennsylvania. I probably would never have had an opportunity to visit Canada. As it is, I have been in nearly every state of the union and have friends I have made through the dogs in at least 20 of them. Until I drove to Wisconsin in the winter to breed my dog, I thought "Farmer in the Dell" was the work of an early Dr. Seuss fictitious vocabularian. (I can make words up too) The Wisconsin Dells are like no place I've ever seen before. Robert Wood paintings come alive when the ducks fly up from the ponds in the early morning mist. At the specialty in Lexington we were invited to see Secretariat. At the one in St. Louis, I toured the Dog Museum of America. (Were I not in dogs, I wouldn't have exhibited art there.) I've seen Niagra Falls, Plymouth Rock, Millionaire's Row in Newport, Rhode Island, Buffalo Bill's Museum in Wyoming, where the Charles Russell paintings and sculptures meant more to me than all the paintings in the National Art Museum in D.C. I've seen the Smithsonian, the Statue of Liberty, the Natural Museum in Chicago, The Cowboy Art Museum in Texas and the Baseball Hall of Fame (My ex was on that trip).


Kate at her first coursing trial in Canada

Kate at her first coursing trial in Canada

Of the opinion one flower garden is much like the next, I would never have gone to Bellengrath Gardens, except to see the Boehm canine sculptures I read about in the Gazette. Of course, I loved the sculpture, but I learned not all gardens are created equal... go see Bellengrath! It was on a trip back from a Panama City, FL dog show that a friend and I stopped at a new antique place. I'm not into antiques...on purpose anyway, but my friend is and I love to look at sculptures. We were there for hours and saw European sculptures I wouldn't have seen otherwise. One was an accurate depiction of a Russian wolf hunt that a borzoi owner came over from Louisiana to buy a week after we described it to her.


I've seen the phenomena of going from miles and miles of flat desert, to the brink of a mile deep chasm (the Black Gorge) and then, in less than 15 minutes, being surrounded by yellow and purple flowers covering the floor of an aspen grove on the mountainside. I've seen wild beaver, otter, moose, bear, mustangs, antelope scooting under a fence at a dead run, and been brought to tears as a flock of Canadian geese glided in over my head. (I'm easy) I was outside brushing my dog when I saw what I understand is a rarely seen courting ritual of a humming­bird. I've also seen the desert of Maine, but you can skip that one. I've been lost in the Bronx at 6 a.m. in the morning...another adventure I'd skip, but things worked out ok.


Pictures can't convey the true colors and beauty of morning light through autumn leaves, the hues of reds and purples in the sandstone landscapes of New Mexico, the size of the trees in California, the dessert in spring or the absolute brightness of a blue sky in Arizona.


Since I am an artist, these different sights mean a lot to me, but so do the variety of people that have touched me. People from all over and in all walks of life get involved with dogs. In my breed, we meet a lot of people from the British Isles, Australia and the European continent.


Generations later, Hunter gets ready to earn his JC in Texas

Generations later, Hunter gets ready to earn his JC in Texas

My first IW sculpture is owned by someone in Denmark. Many of my friends in dogs are an extended family. When the breeder of my foundation stock died suddenly of cancer, it was as if I’d lost my grandmother. At this specialty, a couple I met once, 14 years ago came up to say “Hi”. When I got divorced, it was a friend in dogs that saw me through a financial crisis. When I lost Morgan after a c-section, I had no less that 5 offers of help within 2 hours from dog club members. Through clubs, shows and seminars I have learned many things about dogs, training and health that would not have been available to me otherwise. It was my work with dogs that qualified me to apply for the animal warden job in Virginia and that got me sent through the Northern Virginia Police Academy. The jobs I have held in the club have widened my horizons. (Where else could I ramble on and call it journalistic license)


So maybe, just maybe, this dog thing ...SMART!



Related Links and Articles:

Where Has Everybody Gone?          Let Them Eat Cake          Canine Shoulders



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