Sunday, 15 August 2010
Let me backtrack.
It was the Dulverton Terrier Show yesterday and James was desperate to take the SP for a second public showing (he had come away from the Hound Racing with a Special rosette which James discounted as ‘prizes for all’). He was, let’s be honest, pot-hunting.
‘Let’s take Asbo,’ said Adrian. James and I furrowed our brows. Asbo can’t even walk down the road without losing the plot. He has been banned from every pub in town and dog walkers will scramble over brambles and through cow pats to avoid him out in the fields.
‘It’s a terrier show,’ said Adrian. ‘It’s his birthright.’
‘Oh well,’ I said. ‘Maybe the overload of dogs will rewire his synapses or something. Kill or cure?’
Adrian visibly brightened. James rolled his eyes. Off we went.
‘Go get ‘em, Asbo,’ called our friend Patsy as he barked and brawled his way over the bridge.
James entered the SP for several classes – best puppy, best condition, best crossbreed – but he left the ring empty-pawed each time. Maybe beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. Asbo, meanwhile, was happily eyeing up Labradors from the sidelines.
‘It’s the child handler class next,’ said James gloomily. It had to be said, the SP wasn’t really getting the idea – he thought it was just all one glorious game. Great for his socialisation skills; lousy for James’ pot-hunting enterprise.
Not sure why I said it but the words just popped out of my mouth. ‘Why not enter Asbo?’
‘Why not?’ After all, he was behaving reasonably well and, at the Hound Racing the week before the child handler class simply entailed being able to walk your dog round in a circle without being pulled out of the ring and into the river (farewell Beatrice, you were a lovely child).
So off they went.
Eh what? Lady C, the judge, was calling the first child up. She made him get his dog to sit and then she asked him to take off its lead. Whaaaaatttt?????
‘Oh no,’ said our ex-neighbour E, a veteran terrier-breeder and show judge. ‘That’s a really bad idea.’ She waved furiously at Lady C who merrily ignored her.
The child cheerfully obeyed and the dog cheerfully sped off and out the ring.
And so it continued. Every dog shot off the second its lead was removed. One terrier was seen dancing through the long grass two fields away and one small boy got a round of applause as he rugby-tackled his Staffie to the ground.
Then James stepped up to Lady C. I was furiously waving, making slashing motions across my throat to indicate that Under No Circumstances should Asbo be let off. James blithely ignored me and slipped off, not just the lead but the entire collar. A collective intake of breath around the ring and......nothing. Asbo sat. He stayed. James called him to heel and he walked back beside him. James asked him to sit and he sat.
‘Nooooooo!’ sighed the crowd.
‘YESSS!’ Adrian and I jumped up and down like wild people.
‘He’ll get the red ribbon for that,’ said E. ‘Damn good show.’
As it happened Lady C nearly forgot about him and had to be reminded. Her final five lined up and James had his eye on the coveted red rosette. Asbo however had his eye on the Labrador.
‘Don’t let him get near the....’ I shouted. Too late. An unseemly scuffle ensued and our pair were unceremoniously bumped down to #5.
‘It wasn’t fair,’ said James. ‘He was the only one who didn’t run away. Apart from the Labrador which wouldn’t have run away if you’d poked it with a stick.’
He had a point but we were simply awestruck. Asbo in a show-ring. Asbo in a field full of dogs, doing what he was told. I tell you, it’s not just an Event, it’s a bloody Miracle. I’m thinking of a shrine.