Saturday, February 24, 2018


Guess what?

I'm going paddling!

This is so exciting!

More Later!

paddle paddle paddle!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Meet the Breeds - Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show 2018

Last weekend's wonderful rainy-day fun - a trip with an old friend to the Meet the Breeds event and Agility Competition run in conjunction with the world-famous Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show! And I loved it that this is what we saw just as we got out of the cab.

Neapolitan Mastiff. Look at those wrinkles! 

This was another one of those events that I've been hearing about for a while. thought it sounded like fun, but just hadn't gotten around to attending. I might well have gone another year without it if Mandy and I hadn't planned ahead; I got the flu last week and had spent 4 days flat on my back with a fever, returning to work the day after my temperature went down to normal, and I totally could've used Saturday as a quiet day at home - but we'd bought our tickets weeks ago and I really was excited to see the dogs! I was wiped out by the end of the day, but yes, it was tons of fun.

Meet the Breeds is exactly what it sounds like. It's held in the enormous exhibition spaces at Piers 92 and 94, and all the various breed clubs from Affenpinscher to Yorkshire Terrier have booths. The clubs decorate their spaces in appropriate themes, with lots of fun pictures and interesting information about the respective breeds, and then yes, of course, each booth is "staffed" by the friendliest and best-natured examples of each breed you could ever hope to meet! Some of them are the champion show dogs, but for this event the personalities are really more important - I particularly recall talking to a lovely lady and her very sweet and friendly Spanish Water Dog. She had actually brought her dog in from Long Island just for the Meet the Breeds; he was a rescue and under new mom's care he'd become a certified therapy dog, the perfect pup to represent the breed at an event where ten million people are there just to pet the dogs!

I'd actually thought I was there to take pictures too but there was this one little problem with that idea - it's actually really hard to take pictures of a dog and play with a dog at the same time. There were also a zillion people there so it was also actually a little tricky to line up a nice shot, but I think I pretty much threw in the towel in the borzoi booth. The boxer club had this adorable and very popular set up featuring a kissing booth with a particularly smoochy boxer girl, plus a couple more super-friendly boxers walking around (one in a tux!). I'd stepped into the borzoi booth next door to scope out a good shot, and I was just starting to do that when a warm and solid body gently started leaning against my leg. I looked down and there was this absolutely sweet and elegant face looking up at me with an expression that said "Forget the boxers, can't you see that my silky borzoi ears need petting right now?"  So I did and I was stuck there for quite some time because every time I would stop petting he would push his nose up into my hand (borzois are the perfect height for that) and ask me to not stop. I finally moved along when I looked up and realized that Mandy had vanished into the crowd ahead but I seriously could've just hung out with that borzoi for an hour. Such a sweet dog! And yes, I completely forgot to take a picture. Sorry!

We did make it through most of the dogs by the end of the day, and here are the pictures I did get. We did sit and watch the agility competition for a while to take a break, and I wish I had gotten better pictures of that - the competition was run by size order; we got there just as they were getting ready for the afternoon session by setting the jumps at their very lowest height. Yes, we were there just in time for the first competitors - all the little toys and tiny terriers and corgis! There is just NOTHING cuter than tiny dog agility, and some of these tiny dogs were VERY serious about the competition! That was especially fun, people sometimes think of toy dogs as, well, toys, but some of these little guys were just as enthusiastic about doing a good job going through all of the various obstacles as any of your bigger dogs.

It was a fun, fun day, and for all I ended up being much more focused on actually meeting the dogs than taking their pictures, I did get some cute ones! There are captions, but as usual, click on any picture for more detail.

Belgian Tervuren
"Want to go see Grandma?" As Mandy and I cracked up over the dog's head-tilt of happy interest, the club folks explained that this dog LOVES to go see Grandma, because she always has the best treats.

Handsome Malamute
American Eskimo, like my parents' dog Belle

We had a nice visit here and one of the pups showed off her obedience skills. Down, stay. Good girl! 

Bearded Collies. The one in the corner was just getting back from going for a walk and the one on the table was so happy to see him again!

Corgi pup mug

Chow chow getting groomed. The gentleman in the chow sweatshirt had a handful of the undercoat so you could feel how soft it was. I can't remember whether it was the Samoyed or Siberian Husky booth where they'd taken this one step further and had some mittens and scarves that they'd knit with yarn spun from their dogs' undercoats on display - if you saw it in a store you would've thought it was angora, that soft and fluffy!  

Chow chow face! This dog was VERY relaxed and comfy with his people grooming him to fluffy perfection.

Border collie performing before the tiny dog agility session

The handlers walking the course. They don't know how it's going to be set up until just before the competition. They have a few minutes to memorize it and figure out how to convey the order to their dogs; a lot of them ran the course doing the signals, which was pretty funny because it looked like INVISIBLE tiny dog agility!  It was pretty interesting watching a bunch of dogs and their people run the course - there was a fine balance between the dog being enthusiastic but paying attention and a dog being TOO enthusiastic, forgetting to watch for directions, and just going for the next obstacle they saw (on our end of the ring, for example, it went jump, jump, jump, tube, but the tube was right in line with the 2nd jump and some dogs just got carried away with their own momentum and OOH OOH THERE'S THE TUNNEL I'M GOING FOR THE TUNNEL YAY!). It was really impressive to see the teamwork where the dogs did have both the drive to go as fast as their tiny little paws could carry them but also the presence of mind to look for each next direction as they finished an obstacle.

Corgi go ZOOM. Corgi butts bounce in the most adorable way when they're charging around and jumping over things - they almost look like bouncing bunny tails! Mandy and I just about fell off our chairs laughing at the first corgi gallop we saw.

Beware of low-flying Scotties!

Back to the breeds. One of these Papillons was being presented with Best in the Toy Group. Very exciting for all of them!

Otterhound puppy, seven months old and just wanted to play with everybody in the world. I knelt down to get a better picture but failed because an instant after I did he was up and washing my right ear for me.

And here we are at N is for Newfie, and that's where my camera battery ran out - too bad, I would've loved to get a picture of the sweet little blue merle Sheltie named Potato, but this is as far as I got.

Really a fun day! 

Friday, February 09, 2018

1/27/18 Continued - A Walk In the Park

Just a few more photos from Central Park, the day of the Winter Jam. We decided to skip a long wait for a short ski and went for a bit of a hike instead. Here's a random scene looking South, Balto, Bethesda Terrace, the boathouse, Bow Bridge, scenes in The Ramble, King Jagiello of Poland (fun seeing that again, that's where I used to go for Wednesday night set dancing in the park - don't know if that still goes on in the summertime but it did for many years), the dormouse from the Alice in Wonderland statue, reflections in the Model Boat Pond, and the Hans Christian Andersen statue (with the Ugly Duckling). Felt good stretching our legs after the slow walking around the festival!