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Choppy’s Brush with Fame

This bloke we know called John, he was inordinately proud of his Kelpie bitch.

She was pretty plain-looking as bitches go, and her name was Lamb Chop which wasn’t a fancy name, but John was inordinately proud of her. So when his cousin’s wife Janet invited herself to come up to stay for the Allora Show, to show her purebred Samoyeds that amount to the sum total of her reason for living, John said, “I’d like to show my canine too. I’m inordinately proud of that bitch, you know. Beautiful animal.”

Janet, steeped as she was in the world of all the intricacies of purebreds and showing and all the trappings and goings on, looked at John’s Kelpie bitch. She didn’t say anything – she just looked. A very well-mannered person was our Janet. And she knew which side her bread was buttered on. After all, John was her host. He and his wife Jan hosted her every year for the Allora show and it was a pretty comfortable arrangement, actually.

So Janet gave it a little thought and said, “Okay. I’ll give you a few tips if you like.” And she was on.

Having been given the inside running on how to train a dog for the lofty expectations of the Allora show circuit, John rose a little earlier than usual each day for weeks and trained Choppy to walk, and sit, and stay, and stand – just so.

Choppy progressed very well. She obeyed the commands to an absolute T. She even lost a little weight. There was no doubt, she was an inordinately exceptional dog, in any number of ways, not the least being her willingness to learn.

The great day arrived. John, well versed in the art of showing horses, had spent the evening beforehand preparing the tack for the job at hand. With infinite care and pride he shone up the plaited-leather halter lead that had previously served its purpose at the yearling sales. The fact that Choppy had never worn a collar before was incidental; it mattered with horses, but dogs? Much smaller animals. Much more manageable.

What did matter, though, and John was big enough to acknowledge this small oversight later, in the light of the events that unfolded, was the fact that the collar in question didn’t really fit very well.

Yes, as it evolved, that mattered.

John arrived with Choppy, very much Lamb Chop if you please on that occasion with a gleaming coat and a sparkle in her eye, in the back of the Toyota. He gave the halter lead one last rub on his trouser leg, fixed the collar proudly around Choppy’s neck, and set off towards the dog-showing ring at a brisk pace, a proud man, with his dog neatly heeling his left side as the occasion demanded.

And arrived, much to the amusement of the onlookers including Janet, and the consternation of his wife, who was fond of Choppy, with a lead pulling an empty, flaccid piece of leather. The Exhibit had slipped her collar, and was nowhere to be found, or not for a good while anyway.

There was a large showing of dogs that day. Allora is noted for the Dog component of its Show, and the competition was stiff. Much more stiff, you might say, than Choppy’s collar at that particular moment.

There was a lot to distract the attention of a wandering dog in that sort of environment. There were more dogs than she had seen in her entire life, for starters, and each had to be sniffed and inspected and courted and flirted with as dog ethics dictated.

Then of course, there were people, and around people there was sure to be food, and around food there were always kids, who were good for attention amusement and entertainment. This kept Choppy occupied for a good while, and much as to be expected, once sighted by her proud owners she was rather unwilling to submit once again to collar and chain.

But dogs are basically biddable creatures, and their symbiotic needs override all else when things get grim – as they undoubtedly did for Choppy when she displayed a reluctance to come to heel. Janet took over, bringing to bear her considerable expertise and experience in the matter, and using, in a stroke of sheer brilliance, her own showing equipment and a collar that fitted.

Choppy performed brilliantly. Not necessarily according to the expectations of the judges, and not altogether in sync with the other dogs in terms of the walking sitting staying and standing, but there was no doubt, she was an exceptional dog. Out of all those possible choices, the judges put her in second place; well, they couldn’t very well put her up the top, what with the walking sitting staying and standing thing being somewhat of a random nature.

John was well pleased. His judgement had been vindicated. He was, after all, inordinately proud of that bitch.


© Jane Grieve –

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