Tuesday, December 1, 2009
I remember the first time we tried to show Rusty. That's right, World, we showed our dogs.
In those prissy "run around the ring once again, please" shows. The ones that judge a dog's motion, gait, overall appearance, bone structure, personality, and so on and so forth. It was all a bit high-faluting for me, but I went anyways, because it was something my dad was interested in. Rusty loved being shown. Unfortunately for him, his personality wasn't exactly "show" quality.
He bunny-hopped around the ring. Whenever a judge went to touch him, his tongue lolled out and he'd squirm around trying to reach the judge so he could be petted. And, above all, he hated (with a passion) his handler (who also happened to be his breeder).
Hm, let me give you a few examples.
The first time he had even shown, we didn't know that we weren't supposed to feed him. Apparently, dogs get stage fright as well. Well...heh.
He peed on the breeder's leg. And then puked on her shoes.
Everyone was absolutely horrified (except for my sister and me - we were too busy laughing our asses off to be horrified). They had to postpone the show so they could clean up his mess. And that incident pretty much set the tone for Rusty's show career (which ended after a few short (or if you're the breeder, long) years). At less than six months old, my dog knew what was up.
I remember one show where he walked perfectly. Absolutely perfectly - he had the show in the bag. Guaranteed first place. But, in true Rusty fashion, he ended the last quarter of the show by bunny-hopping. All four paws left the ground. And then he stopped, and then ran out of the ring - with the breeder still attached to his leash. Her gorgeous pantsuit was ruined - green grass stains ran all down the front of it. Apparently that happens when one is dragged fifty yards behind a seventy-five pound dog (the little fences around the ring didn't even slow him - or her - down. He just jumped over them. She, unfortunately, went through them).
The judge was amused. The breeder? Not so much. We thought she was going to kill him that day.
My dog was a legend. People used to come to his shows not to see the competition, but because they wanted to see Rusty's antics. We were going to take him out of the shows, but he seemed like he was having so much fun.
And the breeder wanted to keep him in. She said he was an ill-mannered dog (wonder where she got that impression from?), and that she was going to fix him.
Ha. Needless to say, he won that particular competition.
That's my boy. Three years of showing and he has less than five ribbons, but many memories full of laughter. And, looking back on it now, I don't blame him one bit for hating the breeder. We got our other dog, Lili from her, at four months of age.
We later found out that the breeder's son beat dogs, and that Lili is the only puppy from her litter to survive. We, of course, had no proof (other than that she was terrified of men, and from what we had heard about the breeder from outside sources. The other puppies apparently died of an "infection").
My dad instead sued her for her breeding practices, won, and the AKC shut her down. She is no longer allowed to breed (although she does it anyways now under her husband's name).
Looking back on it now, I think Rusty knew what type of person she was. He never gave anyone as much shit as he gave her, and there have been a few instances where he's been an excellent judge of character. I wouldn't trust anyone he didn't.
My father used to bring Rusty with him to work. One day (after being suitably worshipped by the receptionist), Rusty was hanging out at a job site under the receptionist's desk. Well, in walked her boss, and Rusty growled - low and menacing. He came out from under the desk, and the next thing my dad knew was that the boss was backed into a corner, with our dog growling at him. Keep in mind here, Rusty was one of the most gentle natured and sweet dogs that most people have ever met (Lili was the mean one).
So, needless to say, this was unusual. My father grabbed Rusty, put him in his kennel, and once his work was done they left (the funny part about it is, all of the workers in the office came by the cage and gave Rusty treats after it had happened). A few weeks later my dad learned that the boss that Rusty had growled at had been arrested for embezzlement and spousal abuse.
I think that, sometimes, animals do know best.