Last Call for Novice Bitch!
Dogs are my life. Always have been…always will be. Anyway, I’m at this Exemption show. I’ve got this nice little bitch, German Shepherd, looks very promising but she’s ring-shy. Lovely mover though. Then I hear…
“Last call for Novice Bitch”
Well, I’m a Novice Bitch so I duck under the rope and into the ring and I’m way down the line because handlers are placed alphabetically. So there I am fourth from last but I stand my bitch up ready for when the Judge gets down to me. She’s stood lovely, ears pricked up, neck arched, wonderful sloping topline, every inch a winner. Judge starts coming down the line. This is us, I think, but no…would you believe, he indicates for the bitch behind me to move up. Is he blind or what?
Then I spots Mavis Enderby talking to old Bolingbroke, the Steward. What’s she up to…he’s only the Steward? It’s usually the Judge’s eye she tries to catch. Then she turns round and I see what she’s wearing. Bloody Norah! I thought my blouse was low cut but Mavis is a thirty-six double F! What she’s got on show wouldn’t look out of place if she’d entered them in the Puppy class. No wonder old Bolingbroke’s eyes were out on stalks. He’s supposed to assist by passing on the Judge’s directions to the handler but I think he was too interested in trying to figure out how he could become a handler himself, if you catch my drift. But I’ll tell you this for nought, Mavis is in the wrong class if she’s going for Best Brace! I’ve heard this Judge is supposed to be religious. Not that I believe it! Him…religious! Never! He just thinks he’s God Almighty!
Anyway, then the Steward asks us to start moving round. Ah! This will be us…but no, would you believe it, he’s still leaving us fourth from last. This calls for direct action, so, like Mavis Enderby, if it’s a male judge then I always wear something striking. Lime green today, low cut blouse, I might not be as well endowed as Mavis but mine are, thankfully, still North of the North-South divide, whereas Mavis’s 36 double F’s have definitely journeyed South. Then if it’s windy, like today, I wear a big mauve hat. If I’m not near the front, then I waits till the Judge is in front of me, hat blows to the floor, I bends down, Judge gets an eyeful and I go up the line.
“Number 74…go third,” shouts the Steward.
See, never fails! If he’s religious then I’m Mother Theresa. Now, this is where Popsy can get a bit skittish so I move out slowly, Judge is looking at her now, all right. Now she’s moving. Quality see…Championship Show material really, but she needs ring experience. Do you believe it? He’s still leaving us third. Oh, no, wait a mo, he’s looking again now. Glad I decided to wear this low-cut blouse… should make sure he remembers me when he’s looking for Best Bitch!
“Number 74…go second.”
What? Not first?
“Okay. Leading five, stand ‘em up,” says the Steward, “finished with the rest.”
Then I spots Persephone Frobisher outside the ring, what’s she doing here? I hope it’s not her bitch in front of me. She always uses a professional handler and I know most of them but I don’t recognise the girl handling the bitch who, at the moment, is leading the class. But I wouldn’t put it past Persephone, blooming pot-hunter! She must’ve bred at least nine champions but it means nothing to her. Went to her place once to use her German import…She invited me in for coffee…what an eye opener! She’s so posh is Persephone and after the mating she says to me “Do go through to the kitchen and take a pew.” So I go through to what passes for Persephone’s kitchen and took a quick look round…not a rosette to be seen! Then I remembered she said “Take a pew!” Where? There were no chairs…or a table, just the obligatory Aga, a must have, for such as Persephone. So I sat on the floor.
Then when Persephone comes in she says “I see you’ve made yourself comfortable.”
“Don’t bother with chairs anymore…dogs chew the legs!”
I didn’t disbelieve her, there were still traces of sawdust on the floor. Then she sits down on the floor too and slides over a chipped mug with some brown coloured liquid, a bottle of milk and a packet of sugar. Unbelievable! See her at Crufts and she’s all twin set and pearls!
At the other end of the spectrum is Molly Ravenscroft, got a lot of time for Molly, she’s not here though. She’s not a pot-hunter. She owns International Champion Ravenscroft Capability Brown, twenty-eight C.C’s. Challenge Certificates to the uninitiated. A dog needs just three to make it a Champion. I’d eat my own arm to make up a Champion! Now, Molly, unlike Persephone, has got a ten-inch pile of rosettes scattered haphazard all over her mantelpiece and all covered in dust.
I’m somewhere between the two, though I’ve never had a Champion but I’ve done a lot of winning. All my rosettes are pinned neatly to a board. All in their individual plastic covers. I don’t want them getting dusty. All with their colour-co-ordinated drawing pins, red for a First, blue for a Second and so on…Best Dog, Best Bitch, Best of Breed, Best in Show. They’re all there, same with the Prize cards. Always spend the Prize money though…usually on another set of show entries. It’s my world, you see. I love it!
“That’s it!” calls the Steward. First number 78, Second number 74, Third number 49…”
I turn to the girl behind me. “Have you seen what he’s put First, could drive a tractor through them back legs when she’s going away?”
The girl just shrugs her shoulders and says “Probably slept with the Judge.”
I said “Yeah and so would I if it meant my little bitch got made up to a champion. Can’t let the Mavis Enderby’s of this world have it all their own way.”
“Mavis Enderby…she doesn’t sleep with the Judges, does she?”
“All I’m saying…that last dog she got a Junior Warrant with…
“You’re joking,” the girl says. “I know this game can be crooked but surely she would never get a Junior Warrant with a dog that had no balls!”
“Yeah.” I said “I am joking. The last dog she got a Junior Warrant with was a bitch you silly mare!”
Then me and Popsy ducked under the ropes to go for a cuppa in the tea tent but as I was leaving I heard.
“Nice little bitch you’ve got there, lovely mover. Who’s she by?”
“Arndale Classic Edition” I says, looking the bloke up and down. No one I recognize so no point talking to him…can’t do ME any good.
“He’s throwing some nice stuff, that dog of yours.”
Perhaps I can spare him a minute. My Skip, that’s his pet name…he’s the reason I get up in the morning. Wonderful temperament…gorgeous colour, great big masculine head, everything I want in a male. Did a lot of winning in his time…don’t show him now, of course, but he’s still at stud. Looks forward to his egg and milk afterwards…got to keep his strength up.
Anyway, turns out, this bloke wants to bring one of his bitches to Skip. So, we settle on the 25th, which will be the bitch’s twelfth day in season. I’ll know if she’s ready and if not, then tough, he’s had a wasted journey. Still, might be worth my time if he’s got a nice animal. So, come the 25th, this bloke arrives bringing with him the ugliest bitch it’s ever been my misfortune to clap eyes on. Oh, Sweet Jesus! I think to myself, let him want to pay a stud fee. There’s no way I want Pick of Litter from this mating. Fortunately, though, bless her heart, the little bitch, forgetting her looks, is a sweet tempered animal and lets me stroke her so I thought she was ready to be introduced to Skip.
Well, you’ve never seen such a change, just got out of the way in time. Snapping and snarling and showering my poor Skip with flecks of white spit. He backed away sharpish and turned his lovely liquid brown eyes reproachfully on me. “You must be joking” they seemed to say. “I’ll want more than egg and milk to give her one.” He’ll come round though. He’s had ‘em like this before, you see, but we’ve got this rapport. He trusts me…and he’s such a patient dog with difficult bitches. He knows I’ll help at the business end and he’s got it down to a fine art. He stays just out of snapping distance till the bitch calms down. Then, when she accepts him giving her face a lick, he’s straight round to the business end, with a quick look to me that seems to say ”C’mon, mother, let’s get on with it.”
Anyway, there I am, trying to get Skip turned, always a tricky point when the bloke says something about having the same difficulty getting his leg over, which is not something I want to hear at this stage of the proceedings, but once Skip’s tied I settle to wait. With Skip it’s always about twenty-five minutes. I’ll use this time, I thinks to myself to try and get this bloke to pay a stud fee but he hems and hars, wants me to go for Pick of Litter. No blooming chance! Eventually, after a lot of argie bargie, he succumbs and reluctantly agrees to pay the fee. Boy, am I relieved? When it’s over I gets Skip his egg and milk and the bloke is just putting his bitch back in his car when he turns to me and says “I know my little bitch is no looker and she only has small litters but she’s a very good producer.”
“Oh, lovely,” I says, scarcely able to stifle a yawn.
“Yes” he said, “Champions in both her previous litters…four in her last litter…three in the one before that!”