Friday, May 30, 2014

Wake Up - It's Spring!

Wake Up – It’s Spring!

The old dinosaur has been pretty quiet lately.  The pole barn came down in February of the worst winter in years and literally turned our lives upside down.  It’s all been stripped down to a skeleton and rebuilding should start soon, but we have things stored all around awaiting a new building.  Phyllis lost her mother on Mother’s Day which was not unexpected, but still such things are never easy.  Our daughter, Alexandra, has been going thru some issues with her eyes, which go on and on, so we’re ready for some good news.

The old story that I’ve always believed is that when things look grim, look around – there’s always someone with much worse problems than you.  They say when you’re handed a lemon – make lemonade.  One of the best men I ever worked for said his secret to success was being able to take something bad and make it into something good.  All of that sounds pretty phony, right?  Well, let’s see about that.

Our pole barn came down at 9pm on Feb. 19th when I would normally have been in it.  I wasn’t there because of talking to Phyllis about a TV show we’d been watching.  We had insurance and will get a new pole barn, so we’ve certainly suffered some inconvenience, but nothing we can’t handle.

Phyllis’ mother had been ill for some time and caring for her in Virginia fell to Phyllis’ younger sister, Diane who lived nearby.  She took a sudden turn for the worse and passed away a few days later after being in a coma.  She did not suffer a lot of debilitating pain.  When Phyllis flew down for the funeral, she and Diane, rekindled a friendship that had languished thru time and distance.

Alexandra in a desperate move to change her environment to help her sensitive eyes has moved from New York where she had a good job and loved living to Des Moines, Iowa.  She is living with her husband’s family while he continues working for Apple Computer in NY City.  She has a new job in Des Moines and things are moving along for she and her husband, CJ, and we pray they can soon settle in one place with their problems solved.

What’s all this got to do with dogs and that is what dinosaurs are supposed to talk about, isn’t it?  Well if you’ve been in dogs for a while, you know about disappointment and if you stay in dogs you’d better know how to pick yourself up again.  The litters that don’t turn out, the accidents that cause a good puppy to be lost, the shows that don’t go your way.  They’re all part of the game.

Every breeding you make is a calculated gamble that you hope will turn out well.  If it doesn’t turn out you sit down and try to figure out why.  It may be that you need a different stud or it may be that your bitch wasn’t meant to produce the next link in your chain.  Whatever the reason, I suggest you don’t look for someone else to blame  Don’t blame the stud dog owner.  You decided to make the breeding.  Pick yourself up and start all over again.

When I started breeding Collies, it took three restarts before it really worked.  Each time I was learning and each time I needed to find homes for some dogs I loved, but it is all about culling as you learn.  Van Dyck used to say breeding was like dealing cards.  You add a good one on the top and discard one off the bottom.  You must constantly seek ways to improve the dogs you’re working with to form your chain and one bad link will cause it to break.

Over the years I had the misfortune to lose three wonderful bitches, each of whom conceivably could have done much for my breeding program.  Ch. Gregshire’s Little Honeycomb (dam of Ch. Jadene’s Breezalong) and Yankee Doodle Waiting Game (Dam of Ch. Gingeor’s Waiting Choice) both were lost to pyometria before we had the tools we have today to fight it.  Gingeor’s Honey of a Choice (Breezalong’s baby sister and dam of Ch Gingeor’s Indelable Ink) was lost due to injuries she sustained in a fight with three other bitches who for some unknown reason rebelled against her unquestioned alpha status.  I never again put more than two bitches together unsupervised.

We plan and we gamble and if we deserve to be called breeders we learn.  We learn about breeding, training, showing and we learn about what’s really important.  When I was breeding and showing dogs, it was probably more important to me than it should have been, but I was out to prove something.  Van Dyck used to say you could be a dog fancier or a dog lover.  I wanted to succeed at being both.  He also said there were two ways to make your way up the ladder quickly.  You could have lots of money or hitch yourself to a successful breeder.  I did neither, but though it took longer it was satisfying.  It took years before I realized that my winning dogs were a tribute to the competition.  Their efforts made me work harder to produce dogs that could be able to win with the best they had.  You never get better by winning a contest that’s too easy.   You get better by being tested and, yes, even by losing sometimes to remind you, you’re not infallible.

Think about it!!

On a pleasant note and one that’s really an indicator of what is important, Phyllis and I had dinner with Laurie Jeff Greer recently.  The friendships acquired over the years are very enjoyable and make the dog game a matter of much more than just winning or losing.  Jeff was in town for some shows and we spent several hours recalling dogs and people we knew and agreeing that some things never change.  (I’ll let you guess what)  After winning the Herding Group on Memorial Day,  Jeff was off to Mississippi with her big rig.  Quite a schedule for an old dinosaur who never went to more than two shows (Sat. and Sun.) in a week.

I also found out that Jeff’s Facebook page gets more hits tha a summertime flyswatter.  My thanks to all the old friends who told her to say “hi” while she was here.  Hopefully as the weather warms the old dinosaur will get more active.  Last winter was like the return of the” Ice Age.”

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