No, not the motorcycle kind.
(I used to be a surgical nurse and spent way too much time trying to put people back together after adventures with those!)
In this case, Harley is a dog. A new friend from this year’s Westminster Kennel Club show.
The resident 4-footed kids and I watch every year. Well, I watch. They mostly sleep.
Bill deals with dinner. In this case gluten-free pizza.
It’s a real deja-vu thing for me. I started showing the summer I was 17. English Mastiffs! The first time I entered a ring, I was drafted from the sidelines when a professional handler didn’t show. We needed to get one more dog in the ring to hold the major which is dog show lingo for getting more championship points.
The owner of the enormous dog in question said, “Just hold on tight and stay on your feet!”
Much to everyone’s amazement, we took first in our class. I was hooked!
I’ve spent a lot of time in the ring in my day. Mastiffs. Great Pyrenees. English Springers. Newfoundlands. Even a Scottish Deerhound, once, for a friend.
My day, however, was quite a while back, before lots of knee surgery, so these days, we watch. Bill’s still trying to figure out how to make money off my consistently good eye for the winners!
Oddly enough, on my first day in the ring, all those years ago, one of the professional handlers in the same ring was a great guy named Peter J. Green. Tonight he judged Best in Show at Westminster. (This is another one of those true stories that actually happened!)
Congratulations to “Bono”, the Havanese, who went Reserve and to “King”, the Wire Fox Terrier who went Best in Show. And to the adorable Sussex Spaniel named “Bean” who made the short list.
I have assured my herd of fabulous Newfoundlands that they would, of course, have won if only the judges had met them. (OK, they wouldn’t really. It’s a rescue mom thing!)
This year, though, my number one favorite was the winner of the 24 inch agility class. (That’s 24 inches tall at the shoulder, which is a pretty good sized dog in most places.)
His name is Harley.
Harley was introduced as an “All American Dog” which is apparently a recent attempt on the part of the AKC to be politically correct and include dogs of more diverse backgrounds in some of the sport competitions that run along with the breed judging.
Harley is 10 years old and a cancer survivor. He had surgeries to remove several masses from his legs a couple of years ago. And there he was, leaping the jumps and racing up and down the teeter totter things and dashing through the tunnel with a huge, silly grin on his hound-ish sort of face.
My guys were a bit concerned about why Mom was crying at the dog show.
Harley didn’t win the overall agility championship. That prize went to a fluffy little bitty critter that moved almost fast enough to win the Indianapolis 500. (This is a matter of reality we big dog fans are accustomed to.)
Harley got all my votes for inspiration, though.
I was probably just about to turn four the first time I remember watching Westminster. A black and white English Springer won. Our own Maude got up and licked the rounded edge screen on the little black and white TV in our living room. It was the only time all night she paid any attention!
I’m still watching. And, yes, I know there are lots of folks who consider Westminster to be an expensive beauty contest without the college scholarships. By and large, though, I think the world could do worse than a family reunion for a whole bunch of people who love dogs.
Harley didn’t go home with the big silver bowl but he went home a huge winner in my book. And so did his mom.
And his vet. Whomever she or he might be.