The Tale of the Dragoon

Running between Tennessee and North Carolina is a highway favoured by  motorcyclists and car enthusiasts.   Since I was going to be so close to it, and wondering if my riding skills would be up to it, I decided that it was going to be a must see on the way to Chattanooga, along with visiting the Smoky Mountains so Dolly could show her children their “heritage”.

 On the way we passed through some beautiful areas. Unfortunately to drive and shoot pictures wasnt possible so the only really nice picture I was able to get with this panoramic view from a lookout.

Panoramic view

In the center of this map is an 11 mile section of road which is the actual “Tail of the Dragon”

Tail of the Dragon mapWithin that small little radius is this road:

map of the tail

This is a video about the route:

Thankfully tractor trailers have now been banned from the road!  It was challenging enough without that worry!

We came into the tail at the bottom – and decided to drive UP instead of downhill.  Thankfully we did!!

"Casper" and the U-Haul on the way up the tail!

“Casper” and the U-Haul on the way up the tail!

Never before have I driven a road where I needed to ride the brakes going UPHILL!!  It was a fantastic drive though and amazing to watch the bikers on their way down the tail.

When we got to the top Casper needed to have a rest as the stench of the brakes was horrible, and the dogs all needed a break also.

Killboy store

Killboy store

Although we arrived just as the store was closing Nancy Johnson was gracious enough to invite us in to look around and get some souvenirs.  She also met all of the canine crew and was totally charmed by Dragoon :)  She agrees it should be renamed “Tail of the Dragoon” :lol:

 Below are some of the pictures that we took

Pop machine First is the pop machine at the store – showing the curvaceous route that we had driven.

Parking lot tail Sculptures at the store and the hotel are made of motorcycle parts.

Dragoon and the Dragon 2We had to get some pictures of the Dragoon and the Dragon!!

Dragoon and the Dragon

Tree of shame Across the road is the famous “Tree of Shame” where parts from motorcycle wrecks are nailed.

Vertical dragon

And Dragoon needed to make friends with all of the Dragons ;-)

So after taking all of pictures and giving all of the dogs a chance to stretch their legs, we decided NOT to drive back down the Tail, but to go the longer way around and give Casper a break.  Nancy gave us directions on how to get back to I-75 and gave us some memorabilia and sent us on our way!

One of the places she mentioned was Fugitive Dam, where this scene from the movie “Fugitive” was shot.

 When we got to the dam, I went to take a picture of it, and realized I didn’t have my camera!  Since there was no way to turn around we drove a bit further on to Tapoco Lodge, turned around and headed back to the store.    Unfortunately it was closed already.  I was pretty certain I must have left the camera in the store and figured I would call the next day, and check on it.

So we headed back on our way and I grabbed this photo instead with my phone.  It looks a lot more peaceful in this photo.

Fugitive damWell it turns out that I never needed to make that phone call. 

When I got to the motel and checked my email, there was an email from Nancy saying she had found my camera and sent a biker from the motel out in search of us.   I guess he must have gone by when we were turning around at the lodge.

Well Nancy was sweet enough to make sure that my camera was back in my hands before I left Tennessee.  And today I finally got the chance to download it and had a very nice surprise!!

Meet Nancy and her dogs!  Thank you again Nancy for your tremendous effort in returning the camera!  Hopefully next time we meet I will be on the bike!

Nancy

 

CWCCA Plaque for Group 1 placements in 2014

And one final photo! Here is Dragoon’s recognition plaque from the CWCCA for his group 1st placements in 2014. Never even thought about it – that was another pleasant surprise!

Wasn’t that a party?

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This has been quite the week, and I can finally get around to updating the blog and dedicating this post to my very special girl Dolly.   I made a decision about a month ago, that this week would be Dolly’s last week of showing as a “special” (a champion), in shows.  She is 7, she is a mother of 19, wonderful puppies, and I arranged to hopefully send her out with a bang, showing her at three specialties the last week of her career.

Last week we travelled to Calgary, Alberta to show at the Alberta Kennel Club shows, and the Canadian National Specialty.   Dolly placed Best of Opposite Sex or Select in the 4 all breed shows, and at the Canadian National was Award of Merit, Best Brood Bitch, Best Veteran and Best Brace with her son Patrick.

Unfortunately the photo taken there was so ugly, I didn’t purchase it – so we have nothing to share from that weekend.

We then travelled down to Ohio, for the CWCCWR specialties where there were more dogs in the specials class alone than there were total entries at the Canadian National.   On Thursday, under judge Emily Fish Barnhart, Dolly and Dragoon were Select Dog and Select Bitch – an amazing end to her specials career.   

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In addition to this her son Patrick (Yasashiikuma I Am Not a Number) was Winners Dog the same day.

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On Saturday night, I posted an invitation and invited people at the show grounds to “Dolly’s Retirement Party”.

While she didn’t “go out with a bang” as I would have hoped she had a very respectable week of showing as an end to what I can only call a phenomenal show career.

 

Seven years ago I could never have imagined what a wild ride this little puppy would drag me along on at the end of her leash!

dollyocfbow2008l

She finished her Canadian Championship easily in 3 weekends including going Best Of Winners at the booster preceding the specialty in 2008 in her underwear!  What a little tube she was!

Three days later, at the CWCCWR specialty in August 2008, she was Reserve Winners bitch under Gayle Garvin.

Just after this, I lost Chris, and disappeared from the show scene for 6 months coming back out at the CWCCA National specialty in Topeka KS, April 2009.  Despite the early end to our show season, Chip still ended up as #1 Cardigan in Canada that year, and Dolly as #5.

Dolly’s show career kicked into high gear with her Best of Winners Award for 5 points at the specialty under Breeder Judge Jon Kimes, and the following day Winners Bitch at the Three Trails Regional Specialty under Gayle Garvin for another 5 points.

Dolly began accumulating group placings in Canada, and in September was awarded an All-Breed Best in Show by Cheryl Myers-Egerton, the first Canadian bred bitch to achieve this award, and she did it in her underwear!

 

This qualified Dolly for an invitation to the Show of Shows in November 2009, where she again made history as the first Cardigan to even place in the group, placing 2nd behind the current #1 herding dog in the country.

In 2010 we returned to the US for another Natrional Specialty, where she was again awarded Winners Bitch to finish her US Championship with 3 5 point majors.

In August 2010 Dolly headed out west for the Canadian National Specialty – and won Best in Specialty!  This win also gave her the final qualification for her Canadian Grand Championship Excellent.  To date she is still the only GCH EX Cardigan.

Following this in July 2010, Dolly went down to the US for a short visit with Debbie and Katie Brooks to pursue her American Grand Championship also.   For the first two weekends she was undefeated, and would have completed the requirements the third weekend except for the final judge.    So she went into the CWCCWR specialty in August 2010 needing that last point.

 

Instead she picked up 5 points, and Select bitch under judge Simon Parsons, from the UK!  This made her the first American Grand Champion bitch!  And she is still the only Dual Grand Champion!

Next on her agenda was the Chesapeake Cardigan Corgi specialty in October 2010.

 

Dolly achieved a specialty Best of Breed  in the US with her incompetent breeder/owner/handler on the other end of the lead!   After this she went into the Group with Howard Huber, and came out with a group 3.

April 2011 – we once again headed south for the CWCCA National – this time in Houston under James Reynolds.

 

At this show, Dolly was 3 weeks pregnant with her first litter – the Double D puppies – Dash (Dare to Dream Big), Darren (Double Dare), Draco (Dragon Defender), Justin (Dancehall Doctor) are all Champions at this time.  Darby, Thor, and Bunny were all placed as pets, and Daisy was unfortunately placed with a friend who abused my trust.

In December 2011 Dolly and I travelled to Florida for the Eukanuba Invitational.  At this show Lois Demers handled her to the 1st Award of Excellence.

 

Then in March of 2012, I made the trip over to the UK for Crufts with Dolly and Dragoon to fulfill a bucket list item – to show at Crufts.  Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to handle her to Reserve CC under breeder judge Kim Neilsen.

In April of 2012 we headed to the US again for the CWCCA specialty and Dolly won an Award of Merit

Dolly CWCCA 2012

 

Shortly afterwards Dolly was bred for her second “lit” (not a full litter) resulting in my beautiful Cara.

In April 2013 we headed down to Arizona for the CWCCA National and Dolly brought home Runner up Brindle Bitch in the Megan, as well as Brace.

At the end of the year she had the Spy litter, and was not quite back into “fighting shape” at the 2014 National.  However her kids did her proud and she brought home Best Brood Bitch

Which brings us to this weekend, and Dolly’s party. :)

Dolly and I would like to thank everyone who stopped by to share in cake, drinks and treats.   Dolly herself would like to especially thank those who slipped her cheese, and meat snacks :)   Here are a few photos from Saturday afternoon.  Thank you all for your support of us over the years.   As the Irish Rovers sang “Tell me, me oh me oh my,
Wasn’t that a party?”

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Dolly enjoying a tiny corner of her cake!

Dolly enjoying a tiny corner of her cake!

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CWCCA Nationals 2014

Its been a while since I’ve had the opportunity to post. Good intentions aside, life has just been too crazy.

April, however, is the time for the annual trek to the CWCCA National Specialty. This year it was in St. Louis, but the events were not held at the host hotel as they usually are, but instead at the Purina Farms facility. The facility is gorgeous, lots of grooming space, lots of power, temperature controlled, etc. The problem was that I am not a person who likes to leave my dogs overnight at the facility, so it requires triple crating – one set for the hotel, one set for the van, one set for the venue. Start adding three sets of water bottles x 8 possible dogs – that is a lot of “stuff” to transport and creates the need for a U-Haul.

No specialty is complete without its disaster. Whether it be the non-starting van of 2009, or the forgotten show clothes also of 2009 (that was an exceptional year!!), or the broken serpentine belt of 2012, there has to be something that goes wrong with the departure. This year it was the U-Haul.

I wanted to be on the road Sunday morning, so I rented the U-Haul to pick up Saturday morning. The previous Saturday I got a call that the U-Haul was waiting for me to pick it up at the location I selected – unfortunately a week too early. Then they found me one for the next week 45 minutes away. I went and got it for 10 am Saturday morning, but the right signal didn’t work, and driving at highway speeds signals are important (at least to me!). I took the trailer to where I was originally to pick it up and they spent 3 hours trying to repair it – but the entire trailer needed rewiring. So at 4 pm I am desperately looking for a trailer for the week. I found one over in Stayner and managed to get it, leaving very little time to pack before dark and having to cancel a dinner invitation.

Thankfully that was the entire disaster of the trip this year. It seems the worse the trip, the better the results, so this year was pretty good results, but not the great ones of prior years.

Dolly, unfortunately has not been co-operative about getting into shape for shows this year.  At Westminster she was totally naked.  For the Nationals she has refused to lose weight despite a very restricted diet.  She is convinced she is going to die from the lack of food and is playing the part of “Pathetic” very well.

So only Dragoon showed at the Megan on Tuesday night.   He looked fabulous, and in my opinion out-moved most of his competition, but he only made the preliminary round.

Dragoon & Tim in the Megan

Dragoon & Tim in the Megan

 

We had a fantastic photographer doing candids at the National this year and she captured some amazing shots of some of the dogs   Comparing this photo to the information in the CWCCA trifold brochure, I think this is a pretty near perfect movement picture.

MOVEMENT

  • Free and smooth.  Effortless.  Topline level.
  • Legs do not move in exact parallel planes,
    but incline slightly toward center.
  • Forelegs reach well forward with little lift;
    hind legs reach well under the body,
    driving well beyond the set of the tail.
  • Equal reach in front and drive in rear.  Proper
    sidegait should be strong, workman-like, balanced.
  • Tail can be lifted when moving, but
    shouldn’t curl over back.

She also got this very nice standing photo of them.

Getting Mr.ADHD's attention is not an easy task!

Getting Mr.ADHD’s attention is not an easy task!

The next day, Wednesday, was puppy and veteran sweepstakes, and although I had nothing entered it was nice to see Hunter’s grandaughter win the puppy sweeps from the 6 to 9 month class

Thursday was class boys, followed by the 4-6 month old puppies.   In 4-6 there is no class placements, simply a best baby puppy and best of opposite baby puppy.  I handled Sean, and Natasha and Paula Weller handled Patrick.

Patrick smallThe puppies were narrowed down to two boys, and two girls for the final awards.  Paula and Patrick made it into that group but unfortunately it was the other boy that was selected.

Friday was the girls turn.  Both Dash and Cara were entered in the Open class.  I handled Dash, and Tim handled Cara.    Although Dash showed well for me it was Cara’s day.

Cara small

Cara – 2nd in Open Bitch

And then it was finally Saturday  – Best of Breed day.  All the specials had to be in the ring for 8 am check in,  which meant 5 am wake up , to be at Purina for 6 am.  Although Dolly was still fat (although less fat!) I thought she had to show in Best of Breed in order to show in Bitch.

Dragoon was in the first class of males, and made it through the first two cuts of males.  Darren is back from from the U.K. and made the first cut of males.

Darren small CWCCA2014

Dolly was the very last special.  When the whittling down was done Dragoon was awarded an Award of Merit

Dragoon - Award of Merit

Dragoon – Award of Merit

After the Best of Breed the unofficial classes began.   Dolly was in Brood Bitch and Bev Mercer and Laura Marocco assisted handling Cara and Dash, helping Dolly to win the brood bitch class.  :)

Dolly - Best Brood Bitch 2014

Dolly – Best Brood Bitch 2014

So there were highs and there were lows.  On the positive side, the dogs received some nice awards, the Purina venue was beautiful, lots of grooming space,  power, places to walk the dogs etc.

On the minus side, not having everything in one place made the trip harder, made socializing more difficult, and I missed the two things I am sure to attend every year – breeders education and judges education.    There was also a problem with food, and I was glad I had a mini-coffee maker and lots of cereal bars and protein drinks with me.  Of course the trip home had to be a challenge.  There were two major lines of storms tracking across the southern states and I was driving  north between the two of them.  With the torrential rains, and winds trying to send the van and trailer para-sailing I was driving with a death grip on the steering wheel for 21 hours.  Now my carpal tunnel has flared up so badly I can’t hold anything and I’m wearing braces on both arms.

I honestly don’t think, at this moment, that I will attend the 2016 National, unless Purina has built a hotel on the grounds by that time.  I have to realize I am getting older and the trip is getting harder each year :(   If I do consider it, it may be sans dogs, or with just a single one.  I will definitely go to Ohio for 2017 though!

Now all thoughts turn to finding suitable panels to show in Ontario, until the big trip west in the summer :)

 

 

 

Choosing an attitude

 

So another Nationals has come and gone and once again I have had a typical “Shelley’s Road Trip Adventure”.    I’ve developed a new mathematical equation – “The ease of the road trip to Nationals (R) is inversely proportional to the success in results (S)” or S=1/R  :)   As the simplicity of the road trip decreases, the success of the results increases.    Yes, that is making light of the difficulties encountered, but that is the attitude I am choosing to take.

So Monday morning, we headed out bright and early for Ohio.  Well, maybe early (9 am) it wasn’t so bright.  It was kind of cloudy up here, and as we got closer to the border, it started to rain, so that when we got to Niagara Falls, it was not going to be a pleasant day for Joan and Jens who were visiting to see the Falls.  We decided that we would continue right through to Ohio, and they would come back to visit on another day before flying home.   We did decide to stop on the American side so they could take some pictures.

Fate stepped in, by me choosing the wrong road to turn down to get to the State Park in Niagara Falls, NY.  I instead turned down a driveway for a government building, and had difficulty backing out with the trailer in tow (I took my motorcycle along this year).   While we were trying to get out I heard a “bang” but the engine seemed to be running normally.  A security truck from the building helped me to get turned around further down the driveway, but by that point, my power steering wasn’t working, and my alternator light was on.  As I got back on the road I noticed the temperature climbing and pulled over immediately.    Looking under the hood, the “bang” was the serpentine belt breaking – leaving me with no fan, charging system or power steering.   After some finagling with CAA and AAA the car and trailer were towed to a nearby Chev dealer who replaced the belt quickly and reasonably while we had dinner.    So we were a little later arriving into Huron than we had hoped but the repairs didn’t put too big a dent in my pocket.

The results at Nationals were quite good.  I was a little disappointed that Dragoon didn’t go as far as I would have hoped.  He made the preliminary cut in the Megan and since his number was called twice, was obviously a selection of both first round judges.  However, he went nowhere in the second round.  In the specials for some reason he didn’t even make the first cut.  More important, to me though, was the comments from several of the exhibitors who felt that he was going to be their main competition for the breed.

Naomi made the cut in her class, but neither she nor Shadow placed in their respective classes.  Dash and Norton both came third in their classes, and Dolly received an Award of Merit – even out of coat.  That is four years running she has been in major awards.   As for the babies in other homes, Justin and Bling both looked fantastic but there were not enough ribbons to go around, and Darren came first in the regular class and second in Sweeps. Maple placed third in the 9-12 puppy bitch class.  All in all, a very good showing for my kids and grandkids, and a lot more than many others came home with.

The sad part was taking Hunter in for the Parade of Titleholders.   As we went around, it hit me that this was probably the last time he and I would enter a ring together.  Even if he is still with us next year, it is unlikely that I will make the trip to Tucson, and if I did, I wouldn’t take him on a 5 day road trip.  I wish we had been able to get a photo of Hunter and his descendants at Nationals, but everything ran far too late, and everyone was far too tired.

Norton was supposed to go  live with his new co-owners…more about that in another post.   However, there were issues getting paperwork done in the U.S., so he had to come home to Canada to have the paperwork done.

So on Sunday morning, all was packed up to head back home, and I stopped at Tim and Tracie’s to pick up the rest of the dogs.  So far all was good, but about 20 minutes down the road on I-90, in my side mirror, I noticed blue smoke coming out from under the van.   Never a good sign!!   I immediately pulled over, and shut down the van and then looked underneath to see if I could see the source – and saw transmission fluid (I know my colours!!) pouring out from the front of the truck.

I called CAA/AAA again and got a truck to come out.  Tim and Tracie came and rescued all the dogs from the truck and took them home, while I waited for the drivers to come and get the van and trailer, again.   Tim gave me the address of his mechanic, and we towed the van there and left it.  The tow truck driver was especially nice and took me back to their house, instead of leaving me to arrange my own transport, which was all he was really required to do.

Since I had to get Norton back to Canada, and I also had a very important meeting about a job to attend Tim then took me all the way to Cleveland airport to get a rental car.  They also fed me and sent me on the road.  I made it as far as Niagara Falls, before I finally had to pull over and get some sleep.    Monday morning, I set out very early on the road again, and made Norton’s early morning vet appointment.  Unfortunately, the Agriculture Canada vet was on a bit of a power trip, and was difficult (same guy that messed up my flights for Crufts) requiring another trip back to the vet again, but all worked out in the end.    Late in the day I heard from the mechanic that it was only a transmission line that let go (when they put in the transmission cooler they used cheap hose), and thankfully I pulled over soon enough that I did no damage to the transmission.

Tuesday morning, I set off into Toronto for my meeting.  From there, I once again hit the road for Ohio to drop off the rental car, and pick up the truck, and trailer, and the rest of the dogs.    As I got out of the car and was taking out the crate and blanket we had put in for Norton, unfortunately my Iphone slipped out of my hand, and hit the concrete, resulting in a spiderweb of shattered glass on the front.  The screen protector though, held it all together.   I just made it before the rental location closed for the day, so I was able to turn it in and only pay 2 days rental instead of the 3.   Tim came out and got me, and I picked up my truck.  We then hitched up the trailer, loaded the dogs, and we all went out for dinner before I headed home.

I made it as far as I could before booking a motel in Hamburg, NY.  I stopped at the rest stop in Angola, and walked all the dogs so they wouldn’t disturb everyone at the hotel, and then checked in at midnight.

Wednesday morning, I was beginning to question the sanity of long distance truckers who do this for a living!  I don’t know how they are able to concentrate on the road, when one day just blurs into another.   By this morning, I was blaring my music as loud as I could stand, and singing along (couldn’t have been too bad as none of the dogs were howling!) :)    just to keep my sanity.    So I arrived home just after 12:30 and started to unload.  Larry came over and helped get the bike off, and some of the heavier stuff in.  My living room looks like a warehouse, but I’m pretty sure many others who went to the nationals are in the same state.    And then the final leg of the journey began.    I had to return the trailer to Georgetown, and Carrie to Toronto.   And then on the return trip, pick up Jade who has finally come into season.

So the whole trip was fraught with perils, and yet for some reason it hasn’t really upset me.  Maybe its because I’ve decided to change my atttitude about how I am looking at it, and taken a page from the 12 steps to “Let go and let God”.   No, I’m not an alcoholic (of the five  bottles of wine I took to Nationals, shared one, gave away two, and brought two home), but I’ve attended their meetings with people I have been close to who are.

This story, another one that has made the internet rounds, came to mind during all of this.   Even though I consider myself a spiritual, but not religious person, I couldn’t help but think of how it all pertained to this trip.

Me (in a tizzy) : God, can I ask you something?

GOD: Sure.

Me: Promise you won’t get mad?

GOD: I promise.

Me (frustrated): Why did you let so much stuff happen to me today?

GOD: What do you mean?

Me: Well I woke up late,

GOD: Yes

Me: My car took forever to start,

GOD: Okay….

Me (growling): At lunch, they made my sandwich wrong and I had to wait

GOD: Hmmmm..

Me: On the way home, my phone went dead, just as I picked up a call

GOD: All right

Me (loudly): And to top it all off, when I got home, I just wanted to soak my feet in my foot massager and relax, but it wouldn’t work. Nothing went right today! Why did you do that?

GOD: Well let me see….. the death angel was at your bed this morning and I had to send one of the other angels to battle him for your life. I let you sleep through that.

Me (humbled): Oh…

GOD: I didn’t let your car start because there was a drunk driver on your route that might have hit you if you were on the road

Me (ashamed): Uhhh …………

GOD: The first person who made your sandwich today was sick and I didn’t want you to catch what they have, I knew you couldn’t afford to miss work

Me (embarrassed): Oh…..

GOD: Your phone went dead because the person that was calling was going to give a false witness about what you said on that call, I didn’t even let you talk to them so you would be covered

Me (softly): I see, God

GOD: Oh and that foot massager, it had a short that was going to throw out all of the power in your house tonight. I didn’t think you wanted to be in the dark.

Me: I’m sorry, God.

GOD: Don’t be sorry, just learn to trust me ……… in all things, the good and the bad

Me: I WILL trust you, God ~!

GOD: And don’t doubt that my plan for your day is always better than your plan

Me: I won’t God. And let me just tell you God, thank you for everything today.

GOD: You’re welcome child. It was just another day being your God and I love looking after my children.

If Joan and Jens, hadn’t wanted to stop to see the Falls from the American side, I wouldn’t have turned down that driveway in error.  If I hadn’t made that turn, I would have been on I-190 when the belt let go – and there would have been no one around to help with the dogs.  As well, the dealership was courteous, helpful, and fixed it quickly, and all at a reasonable cost!

When the transmission line let go, I was driving in daylight.  I could have been driving at night, and not seen the smoke, and would probably have cooked the transmission.  As it was, it was again a minor repair.   All totalled, both incidents came to less than $300 to fix.

When I broke down I was on I-90 and the vehicle, and by being in it the dogs were in peril if someone struck it.  I am thankful for good friends like Tim and Tracie who rushed out and got the dogs to safety, and then looked after getting me settled!

I am thankful for another special friend, Carrie, who offered to stay an additional couple of days to look after the rest of the pack so that I could make the trip back to Ohio to pick up the truck and dogs.

I’m grateful to the tow truck driver who said he would not leave me sitting alone in a parking lot off the highway.

And I have to thank God, or whatever spirit was looking out for me on the highway, and timed these breakdowns in a way, that we were all safe, and had friends we could rely on nearby.

Instead of bemoaning the extra expenses, today I have chosen to change my attitude- and be thankful for these things instead.

And, oh yeah, Applecare has decided they would replace my Iphone too!!