The PEKINGESE??!!!

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Sorry, I just HAD to slip this post in before the one I’d planned. (Other than the photos of my dogs and those of  “Dallas” are from the Westminster Kennel Club website, the AP, or Reuters.)

Bear - our newest and youngest

By now, most of y’all know me pretty well. Those of you who don’t, I pretty much say what I think. If you read a few past posts, you will find that I absolutely adore my German Shepherd Dogs! All our babies have been rescues. Yes, they are all purebred dogs, but they are by no means show dogs. Of the seven we have had, not a one was show-ring ready. That’s the way we like it. Our dogs get dirty – downright muddy! They get boo-boos. In other words, they’re just dogs – happy dogs – but strictly family members.

Chief, Guinevere, and Liesel

So, why would someone who is almost fanatical about dogs just being beloved family members even care about the Westminster Kennel Club show each year. Quite simply, I have no answer for that.

"Cappy"

I guess I’m always rooting for the German Shepherd or, at least, a real dog to win. This year, I was completely bowled over by the German Shepherd Dog that won “Best of Breed” and then went on to win “Best of Group.” His name is Babheim’s Captain Crunch “Cappy.”

"Cappy" Best in Group

I actually did some research on him because he reminded me so much of my favorite all-time show dog (yes, that surely seems like a contradiction) – Dallas! Dallas was actually named Kismet’s Sight For Sore Eyes. It seems that show dogs (like many show horses) have “barn” names.

Kismet's Site for Sore Eyes - "Dallas"

"Dallas" with Jimmy Moses

Dallas was the most beautiful looking and moving show dog I ever saw. Of course, the fact that he was from Georgia didn’t hurt. After living 22+ years in a state, you get to be something of a homer. Cappy’s handler is the same Jimmy Moses that handled Dallas. It really didn’t surprise me when I found Cappy’s pedigree on line. Cappy’s paternal grand-daddy is Dallas. So glad that Dallas’ bloodlines live on – even if he passed WAY to soon.

Best in Group - Hounds

The winner of the Hound Group was a wire-haired dachshund – Raydachs Playing With Fire V Gleishorbach. How’s THAT for a name?  ‘bout as long as the dog herself, for heaven’s sake.

Wire-haired Dachshund Wins Group!

Having grown up with doxies, this was a popular winner for me. We’d always had smooth coated dachshunds, but the wire-haired and long-haired dogs are just as cute. The thing I loved most about our dogs was that they never realized that they were “small” dogs. They were almost fearless. I understand that this is pretty true of the breed, in general. They are little dogs with big egos.

Winner - Non-sporting Group

The Non-Sporting Group winner was a Dalmatian – Spotlights Ruffian.

Dalmatian

Again, this is a lovely dog. I don’t believe that he would ever feel at home on a fire truck, but he’s a real dog. He was lively and obviously enjoyed his time in the spotlight.

Irish Setter wins Sporting Group

The Sporting Group winner was an Irish Setter – Shadegee Caught Red Handed. At least this name has “red” in it.

GORGEOUS!

I’ve always loved Irish Setters. They are such gorgeous dogs! I always wanted an Irish Setter when I was growing up. For the longest time, my hair was exactly the same color as they were. I guess my own pedigree – lots of Irish blood – made us kindred spirits.

Doberman wins Working Group

The Working Group was won by an absolutely stunning Doberman Pinscher bitch named Protocol’s Veni Vidi Vici.

Amazing Bitch!

When I saw her in the group judging, I immediately felt as though she was the strongest competition for Cappy. This girl had fabulous manners, an extraordinarily smooth gate and just looked like a spot-on representation of her breed. In other words, she took my breath away.

Kerry Blue takes Terrier Group

Perrisblu Kennislain’s Chelsey, a Kerry Blue Terrier bitch, won the Terrier Group. Again a bitch! I don’t remember a year in which so many of the top dogs have been females.

A few years ago, a Kerry Blue Terrier won Best in Show. Mick (Torums Scarf Michael) also had won Cruft’s – the top European dog show. Best in Show. These are real terriers. Their coats are steel gray (not truly blue), curly and shiny. These are no-nonsense terriers with strong drive, but with senses of family and humor, too. I could see that this bitch had every shot at bringing another title to the breed.

No, none of these amazing canines took home the top prize. That went to the PEKINGESE!

Best in Show? REALLY?

WHAT??? Are you kidding me? I’m sorry to all of you out there who adore this breed. To me, they look like a mop looking for a handle. Yes they have a flowing, silky coat. To me, that says, “WORK!” I just never figured a true dog would need to be shampooed more often than my own hair. Then, there’s that face. Am I the only one who thinks they look as though they were running to go outside and flat slammed into the glass door?

This is NOT a mop?

I am sure that Palacegarden Malachy” a.k.a. “Malachy” is a sterling example of the breed. I have no doubt that he is a fine, fine dog, and that his people are proud of him. He’s going to make them a fortune in stud fees, but give me a flippin’ break!

Cute Toy - Papillon

I have nothing against toy breeds, in general, either. They have never been my favorites, but there are some absolutely adorable toy dogs. There are Papillons, Yorkies, Maltese, Italian Greyhounds, Toy Fox Terriers, etc. All of these actually look and walk like canines. Sure some require lots and lots of work with their coats; but, when you’re through, you’re looking at a dog. Don’t even get me started on the movement of the Pekingese…

Ah, well! Maybe they’ll get it “right” next year.

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Mummo’s Piano

If you’re reading this in email or on Facebook, click on the title! It will take you directly to the blog (an easier viewing page.) If you’re already in my blog, WELCOME! (One more hint: If you click on any of the photos in the blog, they should open up in a browser window so you can get a better look!)

I recently added more music to our house. Well, sound, anyway.

My mother moved from her mobile home in Florida to a smaller, more manageable, apartment. In doing so, she had to downsize her possessions. One major item that would never fit in an apartment was the piano that had belonged to my grandmother, Mummo.

Mummo’s baby grand piano was the one she tried to teach me to play on. It’s a lovely, dark mahogany, Stodart piano. It had its own special niche in the front room of Mummo’s home. The technician who came to check it out and find out what repairs were necessary said that she is from the 1920s. But, I am getting ahead of myself.

Mummo's House

As a bit of background, Mummo (whose first name was Marion) was born in New Jersey in 1891. She was the next youngest of five children. Her upbringing was extraordinarily Victorian, but she was always something of a rebel. She told me stories, in whispered tones, about sneaking the horse out of the barn, walking it over the hill – out of sight of her parents – and then riding off bareback and ASTRIDE!!!! Imagine, the indignity of a “lady” straddling a horse. She kept some the things she was taught as a child, though, all through her life.

One of her closely-held beliefs was that there were only a very few occupations that were suitable for ladies. Those were – teacher, pianist, or piano teacher. Nursing was off limits because – HORRORS – you would see naked people (even men). My desire to be a racehorse trainer was met with disbelief and a firm dismissal that a racetrack was no place for a lady. Actually, up until the past few decades, Mummo was not alone. There was a widely-held belief that women could not train or ride racehorses. So, Mummo determined I really had to learn to play the piano.

God bless her, Mummo tried. Unfortunately, I was only seven or eight years old when she tried to teach me piano. It was a lost cause – at that time.

She was so gifted! Not only could she play the most intricate and complicated pieces, she composed glorious music that was all her own. I remember her sitting at her piano making it sing the most remarkable songs. Her house was full of music. There was classical, sure, but there was also more popular tunes and Christmas carols. She just could not understand why her wayward granddaughter would rather be out climbing trees or riding horses. What she didn’t realize – nor would I until this past year – was that her granddaughter really was paying attention. I was just too young and too scattered to sit and practice an hour or more every day.

In her late years, Alzheimer’s (although it hadn’t been named, yet) stole Mummo’s mind. She retreated further and further into a world where she couldn’t communicate with words. Sometimes, though, she’d find her way to the piano. Her piano was her voice. It was so incredibly sad for us that this was her sole way to express herself. Even when she was finally moved into a nursing home, they would occasionally find her at the piano in the common area. There she was – a very tiny, sad, old woman making the whole place ring with music.

When the time came to move Mummo’s piano, a dealer came to my mother’s home and told her he would buy the piano and “give” her $500. Once I was told that, I realized that there was no way I could allow “Voce Marion”  (Marion’s Voice – the name I’ve given to the piano) to go to someone who would never know my Mummo. No one else could ever know how desperately she loved that piano – nor ever hear the beauty that came from her fingers. I had to bring it home to be with me.

I still can’t play “her,” but I’m going to learn. I probably will never be able to make that instrument sing like she used to. She will, however, be loved and cared for. I will remember the way she used to sound when a true musician touched her keys. The technician who came to give her a checkup is a talented musician and he sat and played her. That same, rich tone came tumbling out for the first time in probably 40 years. For those few minutes, Voce Marion was in her glory again. The tears just couldn’t be stopped. I could almost feel Mummo standing over my shoulder smiling.

Poor thing, she’ll probably have to put up with some awful clunkers to begin with. I guess the learning curve will be steep as I’m no longer a kid, but I’m going to persevere. Maybe one day, I’ll be able to bring the music that still resonates in my mind to my fingers. I think Mummo would be very proud.

Up Next: Remembering a Dear Friend

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Winter Visitors

If you’re reading this in email or on Facebook, click on the title! It will take you directly to the blog (an easier viewing page.) If you’re already in my blog, WELCOME! (One more hint: If you click on any of the photos in the blog, they should open up in a browser window so you can get a better look!)

I’ve been conspicuously absent lately. Lots going on with puppies and family. All is good and I’m anxious to get back to blogging.

If you’ve been following my blog, you may be able to tell that this has been an extremely odd winter in Michigan. Temperatures have been freakishly warm and there’s been very little snow. I seriously doubt that any of the “normal” winter activities (skiing, dog mushing, snowmobiling) have been or will be able to take place this year. That said, we did have a couple of inches of snow on Sunday, Jan. 29.

Snowy Sunday

In the winter, we occasionally have interesting birds come to visit with us. As hard as it is to envision, Michigan IS the southern migration area for some birds who make their summer homes in northern Canada and the Arctic. We almost always keep Black-capped Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, a couple of Carolina Wrens (who are at the very northern boundary of their normal area), all kinds of woodpeckers, Cardinals, Blue Jays, and Mourning Doves.

Northern Flicker @ Feeder

In the winter, however, we regularly get American Tree Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos, Brown Creepers. That Sunday, I looked out the window and – much to my surprise – there was a Common Redpoll. It’s a very pretty little bird.

Common Redpoll

Common Redpoll (w/Cardinal & Goldfinches)

This is only the second year (of the 8 winters I’ve been here) that we’ve had a redpoll visit with us. I’m still looking for Pine Siskins, Red-breasted Nuthatches, or any variety of crossbill.

Redpoll (right), Cardinal & Goldfinch

If the weather continues relatively snow-free, it’s not very likely that we’ll see any more redpolls, but one can only hope and keep close watch.

Keeping Water Open

Up Next: Mummo’s Piano

Would you like to subscribe to my blog? (Oh, yes, it’s free!) If you have already clicked on the title and are now directly in my blog page, go to the bottom left hand portion of the page. If you have not gotten to the blog page, click on the title of the Posting and it will take you to the blog. That’s okay, we’ll wait! Below the “Leave a Reply” area, you will see two checkboxes. The “Notify me of new posts via email” will take you through the steps to subscribe.