I had booked my "perfect trifecta" dog show trip so long ago that when the day to leave finally arrived I couldn't quite believe it.
I headed out of Victoria on a 9pm plane and flew the red eye through to Philadelphia via Vancouver and Toronto. I managed to nod off a couple of times for about five minutes or so but basically no sleep so that by the time my friend Heidi and I arrived we were both pretty tired. I picked up the rental car and drove the hour and a half to Somerset NJ where we had a bite to eat, napped for a couple of hours and then headed out to shop. Even though we were both pretty tired it was hard to go to sleep that night with the time change and excited for the first show which was Morris and Essex. This show is very special and only happens once every five years. It's a throwback to the golden age of dog shows and this particular show was put on by Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge starting in 1927 and finally ending in 1957 when Mrs Dodge was 75 years of age and getting too old to oversee such a grand event. Through the great efforts of some serious dog men and woman the show was brought back to life in 2000 and this 2015 show was the fourth show since that time. The entry this year was over 4600 dogs, the second largest dog show (only to itself) in US history. I was thrilled to be a part of it!
When I arrived I immediately bought a catalogue and this wonderful coffee table book as my souvenir, and set to watching dogs.
A huge part of Morris and Essex comes in the dress code, and the hats in particular. Most people dress in the style of the original show and while I didn't get a lot of photos I can tell you the outfits were amazing. Many people went all out.
The trophy tent was beautiful. All best of breed winners receive one of these silver bowls, an collectors item for sure and one I would proudly display in my home.
I was lucky in that all three of my breeds were scheduled at different times so I was able to watch all of them. I only caught the tail end of Dobermans but thankfully was headed to the Doberman National Specialty after this. ;)
The breed winner in Smooth Fox Terriers was MBISS Am/Mex Gr Ch Lil'itch Steeplechase who showed beautifully from the Veterans class. Chase was bred by the same kennel as my Fiona came from and his father is a half brother to Fiona.
Love this photo I caught of Debit (BIS/BISS Am Gr Ch Hampton Court Broxden What in Carnation) who is currently the number one Smooth Fox Terrier in the US:
Once Smooths were done I moved on to the German Shorthaired Pointer ring where I was able to see the number one GSP in the country win the breed (and later the group and reserve best in show!). CJ (BIS/BISS Am GCH VJK-MYST Garbonita California Journey) has been a dream come true for his breeders.
Once the GSP's were done I quickly headed to the Doberman ring where I watched BIS/BISS Dezperado's Hallelujah win the breed (and later the working group!). This bitch is stunning, I just loved her.
Once I was done watching my breeds it was time to check out the booths. Leslie Hutto's was particularly amazing. I have long been an admirer of her work via Facebook but nothing compared to seeing it in real. Her sculptures are truly breathtaking.
Even the artwork competes for best in show, my favorites were the sporting group winner:
And the hound group winner:
Once all the breeds had been judged it was time for group judging and finally best in show. The arrival of each group was heralded in by this dapper fellow blowing on his horn.
You can see the big hospitality tent behind him here. Inside there were many tables for everyone to sit at and lots and lots of food and drink all served with real silverwear and on real plates. No paper plates at M and E!
I don't have any pictures but the show finally wrapped up after 7:30 in the dark and rain, but it didn't dampen the enthusiasm of the spectators. Many (including myself) stayed right to the end. With a show that only happens every five years and brings in the top dogs in the country how could you not!? I also bought an M and E umbrella which proved both useful and to be a great souvenir to take home.
I woke up very early the next morning to drive the two and a half hours to the Doberman Pinscher Club of America National Specialty in Lancaster PA to make the ring time of 8:30. I bid Heidi a quick adieu as I headed out the door as this is where we parted ways (she to show a Golden Retriever at the Golden National Specialty in Ohio and me to head to the Doberman National).
I bought a catalogue as soon as I arrived and settled in to watch bitch judging. All the non champion girls competed as well as the veteran girls and it was wonderful to see them.
I met up with my friends Cherie and Faye who would be my roomies for the next few days. We attended the banquet dinner but only after the actual eating was over. Unfortunately the hotel where the National was held was in horrible shape and we quite happily enjoyed sleeping and eating just down the road. Those who were brave enough stayed on the grounds but had no heat and only lukewarm water.....a bit of a disaster.
The next day was the judging for Best of Breed and I thought that judge Pat Hastings did a very good job finally decided on Glory (the same Doberman girl from Morris and Essex above) to win the National for the second year in a row. She absolutely deserved it...beautiful. Best of Opposite Sex was GCh Alpha's Magic Man, a lovely boy.
During breed judging guess who came by to watch? Yep, that's the beautiful Fifi and she obligingly allowed me to take a photo with her. She is just as beautiful in real life as she is in her photographs and her owner Jocelyn is lovely.
Once the National was over we jumped in our individual cars and headed to the third and final destination...Montgomery County Kennel Club in Bluebell PA. This town is absolutely beautiful, wonderful old brick estate homes on beautiful acreages.
MCKC hosts the Fox Terrier Club of America National Specialty every year so I was extremely lucky to take in the National specialty for two of my three breeds (I'll see you GSP's in May!).
I was fortunate enough to see Dodger (BIS/BISS Br/Am GCh J'cobe Kemosabe Vigilante Justice) who is the top winning Smooth of all time in the US. He is retired now but came out to show in the Veterans class and took an Award of Merit at the National.
Love seeing these veterans sparring in the ring!
There were some beautiful dogs being shown and while I didn't get much in the way of photos at the Doberman National (I was too busy watching!), I did manage to get some at the Smooth National.
The final breed winner was this boy: Am Ch Absolutely Out of Sight
Once all the breeds were judged it was time for the one and only group. Montgomery is terriers only and is a must for terrier breeders to attend.
The morning and early afternoon was very cold and windy but by the afternoon just as group judging began the sun decided to peek through the clouds and thaw the exhibitors out...it was most welcome!
This was the bred by exhibitor group, look at the size of it! I had never seen so many terriers in the group before, every breed was represented.
Judge Clay Coady judged all the dogs and then began to makes his cuts. The Smooth made it down to the final six but wasn't in the ribbons.
This Airedale bitch was absolutely stunning and was my choice for First in Group/Best in Show and in the end she was second to the Wire Fox Terrier, still a huge win.
Once the show was over we headed back to the hotel for hot showers and then out to dinner. We found this wonderful Persian restaurant where the food was just delicious.
After that it was into bed where I was back up again at 2:45am in order to get to the airport for my 6am flight home. Bye bye Philly!
I finally arrived at the Victoria airport at 12:30 and was greeted by my family that I had missed very much. After many hugs (and a few happy tears from Ella) we drove home where I had a quick nap and then was back in bed again by 9pm where I slept for 10 hours straight. I think I can count on both hands the total hours of sleep I got while I was away.
Now I am back home rejuvenated and inspired with lots of upcoming breeding plans in the works, and a dog show next weekend. Ah the life of a dog addict. ;)
The next show on my bucket list is the Westminster Kennel Club in February....will 2016 be the year I get to attend for the first time?