Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Here, Puppy, Puppy!

I think that growing up, we always had a dog around.  Most of our family pictures include some dog or other:  "playing" cards with us, enjoying his rawhide chew while we unwrapped Christmas gifts and running after us as we zoomed down the snow-covered road on our runner sleds.  We didn't seem to be too terribly particular about the type of dog, hence the many mixes and mutts that we gave homes to.  Brett also grew up with a dog.  Jelly was her name.  As Brett tells it, by the time he was old enough to enjoy having a dog, Jelly was too old to enjoy.  It's hard to fetch with a dog that doesn't really want to walk much. :)

Seeing as we both grew up with a dog, we wanted to pass that gift on to our own kids.  When Norah was about 6 months old, we started talking about getting a dog.  We had our own home (which came with a doggie door!) and a good-sized backyard to romp in.  Brett started researching the types of dogs that would be good for our young family and one breed in particular kept coming up:  a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.  From the pictures it was cute, but from the breeders ... eek! ... it was expensive!  There was no way that we would be able to spend a thousand dollars on a dog (gasp!) and so we kept researching.  But ... you know how things are.  Once you get an idea in your head, it's hard to shake it loose.  One afternoon I happened to mention to my mom the breed we wanted.  She replied, "I think that's the type of dog Allison's boss has.  Want me to check?"  Uh ... yeah!!  Sure enough, Allison's boss not only had one, but his uncle was a breeder in Ouray!  After a few phone calls and two trips to Ouray, we came home with our own little Cavalier King Charles Spaniel ... and we didn't even have to rob a bank!

Little Aaron & Toddler Norah with Baby Gimli

We named our sweet puppy Gimli after the warrior dwarf in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy ... the dwarf who cares for all the hobbits (i.e. our kids!).  However, after we got to know dear Gimli, we discovered that he is a bit more of a bean-bag, couch potato dog than a warrior!

He is about the laziest dog you have ever met ... he actually will go back in the house and hide in his kennel if he sees one of the kids with the leash.  He loves to lay on his end of the couch while we watch TV and periodically will let out an gruff snore when he's really relaxed.  He spends most of his day moving from comfy spot to comfy spot.  He is incredibly tolerant of the kids and has never done more than raise his head off the floor when one of the babies is discovering the difference between soft and rough.  As Lydia yells, "Me! Me!" at him and tries to haul him out the back door, he just flops to his side and wags his tail.  He's the perfect dog for us!

We have since learned that our Gimli is not an average CKC Spaniel ... he's actually two!  He is much, much bigger than the standard size and has actually been mistaken for a miniature St. Bernard.  And it's not because he's over-weight ... he's just built big.  You know ... big boned, or something. :)  Anyway, we never had any illusions of having him as a show dog ... that would require him to run and look perky!  But we do like seeing his breed do well when we catch the Westminster Dog Show on TV.  Of course it is a tad bit hard to watch it without giggling after having seen "Best in Show" ... but we still enjoy it.

The kids watching a bat-dog run by ... definitely bat-like.
As I alluded to in yesterday's post, we attended the Grand Valley Kennel Club Dog Show over the weekend.  While it wasn't the Westminster Dog Show, it was very entertaining.  When we arrived we found that they were currently judging the individual dog groups i.e. hound, terrier, sporting, toy, working and non-sporting (that would be Gimli's group!).  It actually was perfect, unintentional timing on our part because this was the best way for the kids to see a broad spectrum of dogs ... from little cotton-balls with legs to 150 pound Mastiff monsters.  The kids had all sorts of questions about the types of dogs we were seeing and being the good mom that I am ... I pretended to know. :)  Actually I was a bit surprised with how many breeds Brett and I could identify.  We saw Afghan Hounds, Beagles, Welsh Terriers, Poodles and even a Ozzie (my mom's Cairn Terrier) and an Amos (my sister's longhaired Dachshund).

I think the most interesting parts about the dog show was the intensity of the handlers and the incredible grooming of some of the dogs.  We saw two poodles (a standard and a toy) both with the traditional grooming ... I guess it's supposed to look like that on purpose.  To us it just looked a bit silly.  We saw two little poofy-foofy dogs that were mostly hair that were sporting bows and ribbons.  Too cute to see them all dolled up!  One dog we saw made the biggest impression ... in spite of it's size.  It will forever be known as the mop on a leash!

There was one other dog that really got our attention.  I don't know for sure what the breed was, but a little research leads me to believe it was a Dogue de Bordeaux.  He was apparently mostly skin.  As he ran the length of the ring, his entire body jiggled and joggled.  At one point, his handler actually pulled the dog's lip up over his head and used a big towel to dry off his jowls!  He was so cute ... but so very, very slobbery!

Sorry about the blurriness :(

Our biggest surprise was Ashley's intense interest in the show.  She sat poised on her plastic seat watching each and every dog as he/she ran by with the handler.  It was Ashley who wanted to stay to the end and see the final rounds of judging.  Unfortunately for her, Lydia as not as enthralled and we had to make our exit before the last two rounds.  The only consolation was dinner out in a restaurant, but even then she wanted to check the internet to see who the winner was.  I have yet to find the final results of the dog show ... but I'll keep looking for my dog-lover-daughter!

So Saturday night after the kids were snuggled in, we settled in to play a game and Gimli joined us on the floor.  Brett and I got to giggling about what the judge would have said if we had brought our Gim-Gim to compete.  He would have been marked down for being a behemoth CKC Spaniel, he might have received a deduction for having been groomed (he's supposed to be long haired, but I can't stand the shedding!) and the fact that he nervously chews on his feet probably would have hurt his standing.  He doesn't have all his necessary manners, so he would have been far to social with the other dogs ... "Hey ... what's your name?  What's your name?  Hey ... who are you?".  Gimli also has the tendency to bark when he's happy, scared, nervous or protecting us ... all of which had the potential of happening during the judging which would have probably resulted in expulsion from the competition.  

No, Gimli is not Kennel Club material, but to us, the true judges of his character and cuteness ... he is Best in Show!

Photo by Ashley :)

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