Saturday, March 17, 2012

On a Whim

I registered Chou in a dog show today. It's in Sacramento, in April, 10 minutes from my home. So why not? My briard friends have been encouraging me to show her.

And I have sentimental memories of the Sacramento Dog Show: 15 years ago, I was looking for a dog to buy, deciding on a breed. A dog show is a great place to see different kinds of dogs, and talk with their owners, breeders, handlers. I was wandering around the Cal Expo show grounds on a lovely April day when a young couple walked by with a large, shaggy dog. And I asked them what people now ask me: "What kind of dog is that?" They said, "He's a briard." 

I had never heard of that breed, but it was a beautiful dog. "What kind of personality do they have?" I inquired. And the woman replied, "They are very bright and very stubborn." Then the dog dragged them away! Yes, that was exactly the breed I wanted. 

Not too long thereafter, I adopted an 8 week old briard puppy I named Mimi. 

As for the "stubbornness," it's more accurate to say that briards are independent thinkers; that's what has made them good at herding sheep. They trust their own judgment and know what they want. They need to be convinced, not forced. When Chou Chou plants her rear on my driveway, I can tug at the leash, but she is not going to get up and go until she feels like it (and it's my job to convince her to feel like it). I think of this as her donkey routine. It makes me laugh!

Or, as someone on the briard listserv put it when talking to a friend, "Your breed of dogs are like minivans. Herding breeds are like sports cars -- really fast, really fun to handle... but a little navigational whoopsie and you're totalled in a ditch on the side of the road and not sure how the hell you got there." 

I have a lot of work to do before the dog show and not much time. Chou Chou has to learn how to move in a show ring. And I have to learn to show her myself or find a handler. 

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