Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Nan's gone to the dogs, again

The past two nights spent sitting in front of my television were as close to heaven as I could get without actually being in NYC for the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. I posted pictures in 2007 of my top dog picks, and I wrote about my favorites in 2008, here. I was so interested to look back at these blog entries and see the list of dogs I chose then compared with this year's choices. Although I still adore the ones I pictured in 2007, just one of them is on this year's list. And from the 2008 post, I've eliminated all but two. I think it shows how I have changed, and how our life has changed over the past years. Margaret and Matthew building their house down the road is a factor. If there are grandchildren someday, it is imperative that I can completely trust a dog with them. And as much as I would love a Scottish Deerhound or Irish Wolfhound or a Great Dane, their size could prove overwhelming to a little one.

Our dog family has changed as well. In that February of 2007 as I watched the Dog Show, we had three dogs. Then our MacIntosh died six months later. We lived with the two blacks, Ben and Sadie, until last month when we lost our Ben. Now we have one. We've had only one dog for just two periods of time since 1973, the last time being, 1984-89; a Belgian Sheepdog named Lucy. Other than that we've always had two or three, and for a short glorious time we had four. I posted about our 'dog stats' here if you are interested in reading about our 38 years of dogs.

I've written oftentimes about our dear Sadie, and how she truly is a one-family dog. Well, we think that goes for other dogs as well. She did fine as a puppy, coming into a household which had three adult dogs. But now, she is the alpha, the only, and I fear she wouldn't accept another dog at this time of her life. So Tom and I have made the decision that we will get no more dogs until she goes. Then we will get two or maybe three puppies so our life can be wild again!

And so, without further ado, here are the dogs that made my 'best in show' this year. After the show, I researched the breeds to make certain they were the right dogs for us.

From the Herding Group:

Smooth Collie -
This is a definite for us. We barely had two good years with our dear MacIntosh before he became epileptic, and then he only lived another five more. We had him groomed (shaved) every few weeks because his coat was so much work. The Smooths are the same dogs as the Roughs, minus the coat. These dogs are wonderful with children and the dearest souls you can imagine.

Icelandic Sheepdog -perfect for my new found love of this country. Maybe I'll name him Erlendur!

From the Sporting Group:

Clumber - just about the dearest face I've ever seen.

English Setter - 'unsurpassed family dog. fondness for children. well-mannered. mellow' - perfect for us.

Flat Coated Retriever -the only purebred who had a bit of the same look as our Ben - and I love the description of having a tail that never stops wagging.
Welsh Springer Spaniel - 'great with children'

From the Working Group:

Great Pyrenees - strong possibility. 'loves children. gentle.'

Leonberger - 'calm, graceful, loving family dog' and for such traits I could put up with 'sheds like crazy.' No drawing but a great photo! This is the next on my list after the Smooth Collie.

If we are very lucky, we will have our Sadie for another five or six years. I wonder if these puppy choices will change in that time. Somehow I don't think so. Each of the ones I've listed is a good fit for us and the way we live. Of course no one can predict the future. In six years, I'll be (gulp!) sixty-nine, but with continued good health, I think each of these dogs would fit into our lives just perfectly, and keep us young as well.


  1. We have spent many a long night watching crufts,and picking out our winners.we too have not been without a dog ever until we lost our little pip in October.I miss the walks and the company.Altough we have cats its just not the same.i have only had 7 dogs since leaving home,everyone a character and very much loved and missed.

  2. I haven't had a dog since we lost our lovely old yellow lab, Maisie 6 years ago and feel that now I work full-time it would be unfair to get another one. I hope you keep Sadie for many years to come of course, but what adorable breeds those all are!

  3. Oh, I'm so sorry about Pip. Will you get a puppy? We have cats too, and you are right, it isn't the same. In fact, when our two go, we won't get more, but I hope to have dogs till I myself go. Please keep me posted. I will be interested to know if you get a dog, and what you get.

  4. Although I know who won, we still have an hour or two still to watch on the DVR. We have watched bits and pieces of Westminster in the past but now that we finally have a sweet mutt of our own we really enjoyed watching this year. I too was taken by the Clumber last night.

  5. Oh, Rambling Fancy, I'm sorry. Maybe when you retire you can get a couple puppies to give you some 'real' work and lotsa fun.

    Thomas, it makes all the difference in the world having a dog sit beside you while you watch. I had this little fancy that I'd let Sadie pick out a dog - and the only one she lifted her head to see, and watched the entire time it was on, was the Affenpinscher! I didn't know what to make of that! :<) And wasn't that Clumber so dear.

  6. Dogs do keep us young when you don't have little children around to keep you active. Several of these dogs that you have picked have lots of furrrr. Our dog, Luna, is a major shedder. UGH... I would think twice about another shedder. Yet, when you fall in love with a dog you don't care if it is shedding. You have me thinking about a Wolf Hound. I would love to have one. Iknow someone that has one and he is marvelous gentle giant and likes children.

  7. Rats! I missed the Westminster! We don't have a dog but we wish we had one when we watch the last night of the show every year. Years ago we made the decision not to take on the responsibility of a dog because both my husband and I worked. There wouldn't be anyone home to care for a pet and we just didn't have the heart to leave one alone for 9 hours a day. If I had a dog it would be a border collie. Thanks for the lovely descriptions of dogs. --Catherine Mary

  8. The Great Pyrenees are beautiful dogs but I didn't realize they were a "friendly" breed! My mother in law has a few of them to keep the coyotes away from her sheep (she breeds and works Border Collies for show) and the Great Pyrenees are pretty reclusive. Maybe they've just that way because they're more work dogs on the ranch than pets? I always want to go snugggle with them.

    Love the Smooth Collies. Though--not sure you can beat a lab. We adore our Chocolate English Lab. ;)

  9. Lisa, that's encouraging about the Wolf Hound. I am awfully fond of big dogs. The shedding and the mats are why we decided on the Smooth Collie. As I remember, the Belgian Sheepdog doesn't shed.

    As always, its so nice to hear from you, Catherine Mary. I think you are wise to not have a dog at this point. Far too many dogs are left alone all day for hours and hours. I think it can be alright if there are two dogs to keep each other company. As I recall, you live in the city? You may want to research the Border Collie and talk to breeders. From what I've read, too often this dog doesn't fit into city life so well. It really, really likes to be a working dog - a herder of animals.

  10. Trish, I so love that people are writing and talking about dogs! Very interesting observations about the GP. They may indeed seem aloof because they are working. There was talk by the commentators that Labs and Goldens never win. I actually spoke to my tv set when the judge walked right by them. Come on. They are so popular, so wonderful, so trustworthy. And not good enough to win Westminster?!

  11. I can't believe I missed this! I watch it every year. Darn!! Anyway, the English Springer has always been one of my favorite breeds. I don't have a dog right now -- like ramblingfancy I work full time and it wouldn't be fair to a puppy to leave it alone all day, but come retirement a dog will certainly be joining our family!

  12. Jill, I like the English Springer too, and had a dog once that was part ES. But this year I heard such good words about the Welsh that I decided that would be the one! How much longer till retirement? :<)

  13. I love that dog show and I missed the whole thing this year due to other obligations!

  14. I have a friend who raises Leonbergers...they're huge and pretty gentle!

  15. For those of you who missed Westminster (like me - I blame my faulty old lady memor) you go to the Westminster site and they have videos to watch online. I watched the half hour Best in Show judging. It was wonderful!

    Nan, the truth is, a large dog is usually a better playmate for kids than a smaller dog who is more easily intimidated.

    My daughter was raised with a Bouvier Des Flandres - the standard by which I judge all other dogs. If there is such a thing as a 'perfect' dog, the Bouvie is it. My daughter did things to this dog that will remain unspeakable. :) Jasper tolerated her beyond endurance and loved her to pieces. Slurp.

  16. Staci, I wish I knew someone who had them!

    Yvette, our former farrier had a BdF, and he was a wonderful dog. I'm a fan of big dogs. Sadie weighs at least 120. :<)

  17. When we lost our yellow Lab, Molly, we weren't going to get another dog for a while, but had decided that we wanted another Lab puppy when the time was right. She was such a sweet soul, such a part of us that it didn't seem possible that she was gone. What do we have now? A rescued Shih Tzu named Malone. We feel the same about him; he is definitely "our boy" and has added so much joy and fun to our lives. I wrote about Molly and Malone (from the song, Molly Malone) and you can read it if you like, at (scroll down and read part one first).

    I agree, your Westminster choices are beauties and Sadie looks like such a sweetheart! Love, Annie

  18. Hickory, the Scottish Deerhound, was in my wife's work neighborhood for a PR visit the other day. She only had one word - "BIG". In fact, I think they're the largest breed...

    We've had dogs in our house for the last 13-1/2 years - and that's the age of Old Pepper. We lost Max at 7 years old to and autoimmune disorder, and ironically, Taffy died at 11 years old of cancer while she was taking care of me during my treatment and recovery. Now we have Baby Belle, 1-2/ years old, terrier mix with killer blue eyes and a hypercaffeinated personality. This past summer we became a mixed species group when Kitty (aka Morgan, aka Ninja, aka Walken, etc) turned up on our front lawn at only about 8 weeks of age.

    Old Pepper can't deal with any more activity on the four legged front so although we would love to have another, we're holding off out of respect.

    I love Labs and Shepherds and Taffy was a perfect mix of both. Yesterday I was in NYC and saw a stunning Golden Retriever.

    But it will be another shelter dog for us when the time comes - the one that steals our heart.

    And maybe one day, if we should be so lucky to get that farm we daydream about, definitely a goat and a horse.

    And so it goes...

    - Jeff

  19. Hi Nan,
    Love your post. The one person that came mind when I heard that a Scottish Deerhound -- my dream dog -- had won Westminster, was that Isak Dinnesen (Karen Blixen) must be smiling. Dogs are so wonderful. I did the same thing as you during Westminster, pouring through breed descriptions and wishing I had more open space. I had an English Setter for 8 years named Sinjun (our spelling of St. John). He was a hilarious and loving dog. Now I have a Mexican jumping bean, aka, a small rat terrier, who is as merry as the day she came to our house 11 years ago. Dogs are the best. Thanks for this reminder.

  20. I do miss larger dogs but now can't imagine not having medium & small-ish. In general I don't care for tiny/toy breeds, although I've known some lovely individuals within that category.

    This is the first time in a long, long while that the dog I adored from the very beginning (Hound Group) went on to win the cup! So happy for Hickory!

    During the competition, my girls vie for "Best on Couch" and this year Jewel took the honours. She slept through most of the show both nights, but Ruth was mostly attentive.

    A friend of mine has a flat-coated retriever. He's a lovely animal but apparently they can be eccentric and adore messes. He's quite a handful...has a personal trainer and a nanny!

    Westminster reminds me that pure breds can be things of beauty...I do like looking. But I'd rather share my home with mongrels! (Or as we call ours, "mutants"!)

  21. Annie Joy, I'm so sorry about Molly but so glad you have your Malone - a perfect name. I will go read your postings. Thanks for directing me.

    Jeff, oh, your lucky wife! I saw Hickory on the Martha Stewart show. Thank you for telling me about all your dogs. Our horse died a few years back, and Tom can't bear to have another, but I sure would like one. Not even to ride. There's just something about horses. And dogs.

    Linda, I didn't know Blixen had SD dogs. And I just love that pronunciation. I learned it from Public TV, I'm sure. And what a great adjective for a dog, 'merry' - has she ever caught any rats? Yuck.

    Margaret, our late Ben was a mixed breed as is our Sadie. Our beloved old late vet used to call such dogs, 'Heinz 57 varieties.' :<)
    I may think twice about the flat coated now. :<)

  22. Leonberger - 'calm, graceful, loving family dog' and for such traits I could put up with 'sheds like crazy.'

    Sounds like our Annie, although she isn't quite as large as a Leonberger!!

  23. Les, one year I put up a quote from David Frei - 'We in the dog world think of dog hair as a condiment.'


I'll answer your comments as soon as I possibly can. Please do come back if you've asked a question.
Also, you may comment on any post, no matter how old, and I will see it.