Sunday, August 12, 2012

On The Lighter Side

Just so it’s understood that I also had fun in dogs it’s time to recall some dinosaur games.  Some were not so funny at the time, but have aged well over the years.  My time at the dog shows themselves were mostly dead serious, but after or before or at club meetings or seminars was open season on laughs.

Some folks could help create a zany time without trying very hard.  Noel Denton had a great sense of humor, Larry Leonard carried an endless collection on jokes, and the Two-Jays (Fredrickson/Noe) could light up any gathering.  I’m still trying to decide whether they corrupted the Central States club or vice-versa.  One night I went to speak at one of their meetings and ended up at a local watering hole with about half the club.  When I left to drive back to Michigan it was only good fortune that got me home in one piece.

Brian Carabine of Erin’s Own Collies could be very funny and his Irish brogue added to the effect.  He had a story that he used to tell about “an ass race” in Ireland that he was part of in days gone by.  At one seminar he was reciting the details of the race and two elderly ladies were sitting in the front row knitting.  The more Brian talked about “his good little ass” and how “he beat his ass” the faster the knitting needles went.  It reminded me of visiting Van Dyck and how his wife would sit knitting while he held court.  As he stretched the facts further and farther her needles would go faster.  Finally she’s drop her knitting and say, “Bill Van Dyck, you know that’s a damn lie!”

Edith Levine of Glen Knolls was another who could bring down the house with her wit.  She was also a very talented breeder who bred and finished champions in all four colors.  Our relationship became very friendly over time, but didn’t start out quite so well.

When we first met Edith was showing a blue male named Glen Knolls Knightswood Sky and I was showing the blue who would become my first champion, Windsong Dealer’s Choice.  The judge was Connie Hubbart of Astolat Sheltie fame who had also bred some good collies including Bob Wills Ch Astolat Peerless who won the CC of A Futurity.  Edith and I were both awaiting the open blue class and Mrs. Hubbard had judged shelties just prior to her collie classes.  Edith looked down at my dog and said very kindly “ My, what a nice big blue dog!”  AS I was blowing up with youthful pride she pointed to her dog and said,” and this is a correct sized blue dog!”  Needless to say I was stung and with a lack of good judgment that went with my age said,” but Mrs. Levine the judge is done with shelties now!”  You may rest assured that Edith wasn’t pleased.

In spite of the rough start we developed a growing friendship over the years and as my grooming skills increased Edith would often seek me out to help her groom when her bursitis acted up in her shoulder. I noticed the better I got at grooming the worse her bursitis became.  It gave me a chance to groom the grand sable bitch who became Ch. Glen Knolls Spun Gold, one of my all time favorites.

Edith had the ability to get people’s attention and she showed no hesitation in doing so.  She had been successful for some time including winning at the national level when she was invited to speak at Acconeus Collie College in Connecticut.  This was the heart of Gaylord-Brandwyne country and the Mangels were doing quite well.  Edith’s opening statement was one I’ve never forgotten, as she walked to the podium she looked out at the gathering and said, “I want to make it clear – Trudy Mangels did not invent the damn collie!”  You could have heard a pin drop for a moment and then the laughter took over.

One of my other memories of Edith’s wit was not as funny at the time but improves with time.  At the CC of A in Rochester, NY, in the lobby of the host hotel, I was checking in with my dogs and my youngest son in tow.  Seeing me standing there looking relatively off guard, Edith said in her loudest voice for the whole crown to hear, “George I hear you’re getting divorced and if it’s true I want you to know I’m available!”  Again you could have heard the pin drop and then the laughter saved me.

I really miss Edith.  We never bred to each other’s dogs, but we liked the best of what we each bred.  I loved Spun Gold and Edith loved Breezalong and she told me something I’ve never forgotten.  “The Great ones all look alike!”

John Buddie has for years kept people laughing with his jokes and impersonations.  He also caught me by surprise in the specials class at the CC of A.  I don’t remember what  dog John had that day, but I was showing Ch. Gingeor’s indelibly Blue, whose call name ws “Hair.”  The long specials class was going on and on and my sprayer was left at the grooming table.  John was merrily keeping his dog dampened and since I used only water on my dogs, I asked him, “whats in your sprayer?”  Without batting an eye John answered, “Hair remover!”  It broke me up.

My favorite prank of all time wasn’t so funny at the time, but it’s gotten better with age.  I was showing Ch. Bellbrooke’s Choice in the classes at the big Harrisburg show.  He hated indoor shows and, in fact, we later realized he never took a point inside.  He was groomed and ready and my plan was to be first in open sable because his showing deteriorated as the class progressed.  To keep him from mussing his coat I had him at arm’s length while I watched the judging of the open blues.  As the blues left the ring I hasted toward the entrance only to have a funny feeling after a few steps.  The reason was soon clear as I glanced back to see a short piece of lead in my hand.  My dog and the rest of the lead were about twenty feet away with my “friend” Carl Andrews who had cut the lead very gently while I was intently watching the blues.  By the time I got the lead knotted and got in the ring we were last in line and I was wishing for a gun.  It has gotten funny over time. 

Many other funny things happen over time to dog people.  The day I judged after the CC of A and was annoyed at the pieces of liver that had been tossed about the ring where I was about to judge specials.  As I bent to pick up the liver and throw it out some laughter cut thru my sense of good housekeeping.  Only then did I realize that all those little brown morsels were not liver.  Since that day my liver removal has been left to the clean up crew.  We live and learn.  I seem to remember giving Barbara Schwartz Reserve Dog that day.  She may have had her dog leave me a message about not getting Winners!

Think About It!

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