Last fall, I was planning on taking Bear and Brinks to the National Specialty in Ocala, FL, but Brinks came into heat for the first time. I just couldn't see traveling alone with an intact male and a young female in heat! Plans were canceled and we stayed home. This spring we made show plans, not knowing when Brinks would come into heat for the second time. Maggie was on a 12-month cycle and each dog is an individual. Since Murphy has declared himself my "personal" friend, it was only inevitable that Brinks would start her cycle. As fate would have it, she would be in standing heat for the weekend we had show plans. I was determined that this time, we were going - regardless!

Two nights before the first show, Bear kept us up all night. He would stand right next to Brinks' crate and pant and whine. This obnoxious behavior caused Brinks to growl and bark. She didn't want him on top of her, drooling, panting and whining. The only solution was to bring Bear into my room and tie him. So, instead of pestering her all night, he woke me up about every 30 minutes by panting in my ear. I couldn't put him outside because he would bark and howl and I have close neighbors. The next night, Bear allowed me to get four straight hours of sleep or I was so tired, I slept through the panting. I had made appointments to have both Bear and Brinks groomed the afternoon before the show. When I arrived at the designated place (I won't mention the establishment), I was informed that they had failed to write the appointment down - reading upside down, I think I saw where someone had erased my dogs names and entered others. But, it didn't matter, they were booked solid. There was an offer to "squeeze" them in, since they were "only show dogs" and I did all the detailed work! I thanked them and left with my dogs.

Normally, I do all my own grooming, but since moving into this house in March, that is impossible. There is one very small bathroom and big dogs just don't fit. With the help of a good friend, we hooked the garden hose up to the kitchen faucet and bathed them outside. I have a grooming table and blower on my porch, so everything needed was handy. The real problem was the 6-7 hours spent bathing and grooming two rough coats had been scheduled for other preparations. But, that's life and that's dog shows! We got the job done and the kids looked great!

The trip to our first show was just over an hour away. I'm used to Bear whining on the way to shows - he doesn't think I drive fast enough and it takes too long to get there! But, it's a different whine and without the panting. After listening to him for the better part of the drive, you wonder where you put the receipt! Seriously, you begin to feel a little more stress than needed! By the time we arrived, the temperature was in the eighties and climbing toward ninety! Fortunately, I'd reserved space, so we had shade and electricity for a fan. The dogs were at least comfortable as far as the weather was concerned.

Both my guys behaved beautifully in the ring, but it wasn't their day. After the show was over, we packed up and the daughter of my good friend was coming with me to help and show Brinks at a show that was approximately a five and a half hour drive! At the last minute, another girl, an eleven-year-old junior handler was invited to join us! There are times I just can't say no! That drive turned into seven hours, between stops to walk the dogs, gas, food and the periodic heavy rain showers we drove through. Bear was distracted with two kids to entertain him and occasionally, he forgot about Brinks being there in a crate. The distraction didn't last long enough, but I do have to say that my boy was much better than I ever would have imagined!

We got to the motel about 10:00 P.M. and the desk clerk confirms my reservation and asks if I have pets. I'd made my reservations on-line and had assured that the motel was pet friendly! I informed her that I had two dogs. She then asked how big. So, I explained that they were rather large, but that one would be crated and they would be quiet (I was saying a silent prayer at this point!) She then asked if they were more than 35 pounds. Well, Bear is about 140 lbs. and Brinks is 82 lbs. Wanting to avoid calling 911, I just said yes they were. Finally, after an agonizing interval that seemed to go on forever, she gave me the key card! After unloading the crate and other things we needed and taking care of the dogs, we all just fell in bed. I'd been up since before 4:30 A.M. and I admit, I was tired! However, I wasn't going to give Bear a chance to start his nightly serenade! I put his lead on him and put the loop around my arm - he couldn't reach the crate. Sometimes, the best laid plans . . . you know the rest. Just as I would start to fall asleep, my arm would relax and Bear would feel the lead go slacker and would take that opportunity to get up and head toward the crate. Brinks was tired and wanted her sleep, so she didn't even wait for him to get close to the crate, she would growl as soon as he headed in her direction! I was up and had him turned around in a second - definitely didn't need someone complaining about the dogs! Needless to say, I didn't get the best night's sleep!

It was about 6:00 A.M. when Bear woke me to go outside. Not having checked the weather forecast, I went downstairs and out the door in a T-shirt and shorts! WOW! It was 53 degrees and raining! Too late to go back inside and I hadn't brought a jacket in any case. Well, that's how the morning started off. I really was expecting it to be another one of those days, but instead, the rain slacked off, Brinks did really well at the show and the trip home only took four and a half hours. I was tired! No, I was totally worn out - both mentally and physically.

I wasn't the only one worn out! Brinks had had a rough couple of days. She's not used to being crated except at meal time or at night when she's in heat. With traveling with Bear and at the shows, she was crated at all times except when being walked to potty or in the ring. This morning when I took her outside, she immediately pottied and then lay down outside. I brought her in, thinking she might want some breakfast. Well, all she wanted was to sleep! In fact, when Minnos wanted to play, she ignored her! So, Minnos, now six months and thinking she's Einstein, brings one of the flashing balls and rolls it up to Brinks. No response! Then Minnos tries climbing on Brinks and Brinks just gets up and changes spots - going right back to sleep! Minnos then starts bringing all the bones and other toys and surrounding Brinks! Nothing worked. Brinks slept all day!

This will not become a habit! We will look for shows during the months between cycles!



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