Saturday, February 5, 2011


Dog shows are an addiction.  There is no other reason for me to spend so much of my free time and money on something that is so stressful mentally and physically, other than an overpowering addiction.  And there is no Dog Shows Anonymous!

I tell myself after each one that enough is enough, that I really need to quit. It is ridiculous to get up at ungodly hours so that I can finish all my kennel work, drive an hour or two (luckily in Israel the distances aren’t so great), drag all the dogs and equipment to ringside, sit waiting for hours, spend a few minutes running around in circles, and then load everything in the car to drive an hour or two home to do the evening kennel work in a state of total exhaustion and aching muscles.

And then I find myself contemplating the puppies and training them to stand and stare at a piece of sausage in my hand, while I am thinking, “Are they good enough?  Who will be in condition for the next show?”

Addiction!  No other answer!

I think I qualify as the world champion in fitting a large number of dogs, crates, and equipment into a small car.  My choice of car always depends on it being the cheapest car that is big enough to fit dog crates into.  I am extremely creative at how to stuff in the crates in ways that leave room enough for the dogs to sit.  I think one of the greatest inventions of the century are the mesh dog crates, light weight and easy to stack in the car, and soft enough for the dogs to sit on.  Another commendable invention was the hatchback with folding seats – I can fit a lot dogs and their equipment in those.

And somehow I always end up entering a number of dogs.  I tell myself, this time, just one.  But then someone else has put on a nice coat, or needs only one more CAC, or would be lonely if she was left at home…So I end up with a full car.

My dogs do get accustomed to riding in the car from puppyhood, and most of them like going out.  But you can be sure that if someone decides to be carsick, it will be one minute before entering the show’s parking lot, and it will be well spread over the other innocent dogs sitting next to him.

The collies actually like shows. They love seeing a lot of people, and being admired and petted, they love getting the treats I give them in the ring. They do find it quite incomprehensible as to why, when other times I expect them to do something to get a cookie – to follow a command, to retrieve a ball, to sit in front, - on these occasions I want them to stand there and just look at the cookie for indefinite, long and boring periods of time, with ears up, neck arched, and not moving.  Some of them, out of boredom, being sure that there is some mistake and I really must want them to do something productive, will sit, give a paw, or even bark – surely that is better than just standing.  Of course, the moment that they decide to try a new behavior is exactly when the judge has turned to take another look.  They are also not quite sure why I really don’t want them to jump up on the judge and give sloppy kisses.

They also find it really hard to comprehend why I should be so happy, hugging and kissing them, when they have done nothing at all.  But if I want to, well, no objections…

The Canaans really do not like shows.  For them, this is definitely a useless waste of time.  Why on earth should I expect them to enjoy travelling to a strange place, full of strange dogs and strange people, and just sit there, except for a few minutes of running in circles around a ring and then letting a stranger come over, look at their teeth and put his hands on them?  This makes no sense at all.

In order to try and find a purpose behind this irrational human behavior, the Canaans have decided that this must be a new method of taking over new territory.  If we are sitting in a new place with our possessions – the dog show bag, which contains food, and the dog show crates, which are of course a home away from home – then this must now be our territory.  Therefore, it must be guarded.  So after five minutes of settling in and taking possession, I can feel the Canaans taking up their “this is my property, you had better watch your step” position, with a challenging straight in the eye look at anyone coming near. If it is strange dogs coming near, I can feel that vibration in the throat…

The dogs do all know that they are not allowed to do any serious guarding – real growling, barking, and threatening are not permitted by me, the pack leader.  But they still manage to communicate their feelings to the other dogs in the vicinity, that usually stop and back away, making a wide birth around our little island of conquered territory, accompanied by their owners who are too naïve to really understand why their dogs do not want to walk by just there. 

There are a few things, though, that simply cannot be tolerated, and have to be stopped with a growl or a bark.  Any dog who is stupid enough to think he can drink from our water dish…!!!!

If there was such a thing as a canine anthropologist (I suppose you would call it a canineologist?), that would be Habibi.  He sits next to me at dog shows watching all these strange behaviors carried out by humans, which might be worth some study but really don’t make sense.  Why should anyone want to stand a dog the size of a malamute on a table the size of a floor mat, spray water on it, and then spend an hour blowing warm air through its coat?  Or these little dinky dogs with their hair tied up in papers, braids, or barettes, with hours spent combing them out for five minutes in the ring, and then hours spent tying the hair up again.  And these huge lumbering things that smell like dogs but have jowls and skin hanging all over, and the fluffy furry things that look like stuffed toys…for Habibi, these are objects of interest in a neutral scientific way, they certainly have nothing to do with him.

While sitting and going over my accounts, I noticed how much entry fees are these days.  And the price of gas for the car has gone up twice in the past month.  Not to mention crates, show leads, grooming aids…I really need to save some money!  And along with the cost, whole days gone from doing other productive things…And the exhaustion when I get home from a day of hours of driving, dragging crates, dogs and equipment to and from the car, running around in circles…Enough!

But there is a show in two weeks with a really interesting judge…just one more time…

photo by Hila Hadat


  1. I couldn't stop laughing at the descriptions of your Canaan mates' thoughts. How totally accurate! You clearly speak fluent Canaanish!!!

  2. Wonderful blog! I was asked twice this week if my dog was a Canaan(she's akita inu/alaskan malamute) and wanted to find out about this breed. Great dogs they are, really interesting. They look like arctic dogs but come from the desert! And they have double coat as well. I will be following your blog, thanks for the funny stories and descriptions of your life with dogs,
    Anna Maria and Kita