Monday, December 29, 2008

A Christmas (Puppy) Story

Story and photos by Chelsea and Judy Meggitt
When does the thought of getting a new puppy pop into your head?

For us, it started in November when our 14-year old Briard, Logan, collapsed and appeared to be dying. The whole family participated in getting him down our 15 stairs, into the SUV and to the vet’s office. We were devastated—even Elle (Briard, 18 months) curled into a fetal ball and became lethargic. We had already lost one Briard (Noelle) this fall and the thought of losing another (which would leave only Elle for company at our house) was unbearable.

We sent an email mentioning our dilemma to Liz Kennitz, Elle’s breeder. Almost immediately, Liz sent a return email saying that the perfect puppy might be available for us. We instantly (and excitedly) contacted Pam Ohlsson and learned everything we could about her new litter. For the next month, emails and telephone calls confirmed that we definitely wanted that puppy—he would be OUR PUPPY. We decided to name him Ranger, after a character in Janet Evanovich stories who dresses all in black and rescues the heroine.

The puppy was in Oshkosh, Wisconsin—a place that Chelsea, age 16, thought was a store. It was about this time that winter started coming all across the country – with a vengeance! We had no way of knowing the adventures we would experience in getting this puppy…

Chelsea and I decided to fly to Green Bay, WI, to get this puppy and bring him to his new home. He would be our Christmas Puppy, since he would be eight weeks old the Monday before Christmas. We booked our flights to Green Bay through Chicago for Sunday, the 21st. We would meet Pam Ohlsson, the breeder, at the Green Bay airport for the transfer.

And then…we woke up Saturday morning to a great surprise of several inches of snow in Seattle and more falling. We didn’t think anything of it until it didn’t stop...and didn’t stop…and didn’t stop! Our flights – with dozens of others - were cancelled. This set us of on a scramble to reschedule our flights before Christmas. As many of you saw on the news, airports across the upper part of the nation were packed with travelers and airports were ill prepared for the winter blast. They were operating only a few flights, we were booked on one for the morning of the 23rd of December.

On the morning of the 23rd, we had our bags packed and were ready to fly. When we arrived at the Seattle airport three hours ahead of the scheduled departure, we were absolutely shocked at the number of passengers needing service and attempting to get on flights. Many of them had been in the airport overnight. We couldn’t print boarding passes early, since we would be traveling with a dog, so we had to wait through the check-in line. We waited in several more lines just to find out that our flight had already been delayed and the departure of the next connecting flight out of Chicago to Green Bay was going to leave as much as 3-1/2 hours late. We sat in the Seattle airport for hours waiting to find out if our flight would even depart. United and the other airlines had run out of deicer and were still waiting on delivery trucks. Our flight eventually did depart from Seattle to Chicago with us aboard.

Chicago brought another exciting segment in this ongoing adventure. We thought that there were a lot of stranded people in Seattle—the number of passengers stranded in Chicago was incredible! All flights in and out of Chicago had been delayed or cancelled, and passengers were attempting to reschedule or find alternate modes of transportation to their destinations. People – including us – were talking about every conceivable mode of transportation except dog sleds! Our original flight to Green Bay had been cancelled and the next flight had also been cancelled. We were beginning to lose hope of returning home on Christmas Eve with this new puppy, and we were not at all sure we would be able to get him on this trip.

While our flights were being canceled, rescheduled and canceled again, Pam, our breeder, had gone to the Green Bay airport and was waiting for us with our puppy.

After six hours of Red Carpet Club socializing, we were told we would be put on the standby list for the last flight that day to Green Bay. The odds looked slim for getting onto this flight and there was concern that this flight, too, would be cancelled. As our backup plan, we made arrangements for Chelsea to sleep overnight in the Red Carpet Club and then be put on a plane back to Seattle Christmas Eve morning. Judy would make her way by plane, train, bus, or 18-wheeler to Green Bay as soon as roads or flying conditions permitted. Once we were on the standby list, we headed directly for the gate to find a mob of people who were also on standby. Our chances of making the flight seemed to be poor—our positions on the list had slipped substantially – until we heard our names called at 9:30 p.m. for boarding! We were fortunate – the Briard god must have been smiling down on us. Many other passengers scheduled for that flight had been delayed or cancelled and didn’t make the flight.

Because of the many delays, Pam Ohlsson had to return home. The plan was for her to return with our puppy the next morning at 5:30 AM (yes, that’s AM!).

Because of the kindness and understanding of the United staff in Chicago in getting us on the last flight out, we were finally headed to Green Bay. Plowing the one runway in use in Chicago, deicing the plane, instrumentation flying, poor visibility, and rough flying conditions made for more than the usual amount of excitement on this leg of the trip. BUT, we were on our way!

We arrived in Green Bay at 12:00 PM (that’s Midnight!) and checked into a local hotel. Three and one-half hours of sleep later, the alarm went off. Just as (re-)planned, we met Pam and the puppy, with paperwork and supplies and the transferred was done in about 10 minutes. Hallelujah!!

Of course, getting out of Green Bay on Christmas Eve day wasn’t easy either. We called the family in Seattle to set up backup plans in the event we didn’t get home for Christmas day – kids open presents, adults wait until Saturday, wait on Christmas dinner until Saturday, and so on. At the Green Bay airport, we woke up the United counter representative for service and then waited for hours for a delayed and almost cancelled flight to Chicago. When we had nearly given up, all of a sudden, passengers were directed to return to the gate immediately–they were BOARDING! We couldn’t get there fast enough! Once again the runway was scraped, the plane was deiced and it was an instrument flight due to the bad weather. The flight was bouncy and rough, but we arrived safely in Chicago.

The flight out of Chicago to Seattle had also been delayed. The scene in Chicago was like something out of a movie; there were thousands of stranded passengers, some of whom had been there for two or three days. We stood by until United felt it was safe. We waited our turn for de-icing and finally we were off the ground. This flight truly felt like we were, “goin’ home!” We arrived in Seattle on Christmas Eve day, about two hours late, but with Ranger! Dallas met us at the airport and drove us home. The family was preparing our Christmas Eve dinner when we got home, after driving through Seattle in the snow and ice. And, course EVERYONE Ooohed and Ahhhed over Ranger. And, we had a wonderful family dinner with everyone there including our Elle, Ranger and, guess who else?

Logan, our Briard who almost didn’t survive, had been, at the last minute, diagnosed with Meklazine Vertigo, Vestibular Syndrome, which is a neurological problem in old dogs. With the right medication, he has fully recovered and, in his cranky way, helped us welcome Ranger.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Ellie Makes Her Christmas Wish

CH Deja Vu Sense and Sensibility CD RE NA, "Ellie", poses with Santa, who is really Tracy's Dad. Although Ellie loves Tracy's Dad she was not too sure about the Santa suit and refused to sit in his lap.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Let it Snow!

Cold temperatures and recent snowfall bring a winter wonderland to Western Washington just in time for Christmas. View slideshow.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

UKC Trial HIT!

by Carol Wolfram
Saturday I went to a UKC show with both Lark and Tessa. Lark was entered in Utility A for the very first time and Tessa was entered in Open B to try for the first leg of her U-CDX. We had a very successful day. The morning started with Lark winning the Utility A class with a 188!!! I was soooo happy with her. Utility is a tough class at the best of times and UKC has some challenges that the AKC utility class doesn't have. Lark did a great job especially since I just entered her to see where we were in our training. Looks like we are ready to try again! After Utility came Open B and Tessa was totally on top of things. She never took her eyes off me and wound up winning the class with a 198. She is such a wonderful worker! I just love to take her in the ring. At the end of the day after all the other classes Tessa still had the highest score so she was High in Trial. I couldn't have asked for a better day! Laurie Beck was there as well with Page (in Open B and Utility B) and Belle (in Novice C) and she was very complimentary about how both my girls worked (OK, especially Tessa!) Many thanks to Laurie for all your support at these shows.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Elle Wins in Long Beach!

Briardale's Camille Lebec "Elle" (Higgins Bohemia Elite x Ch Cherron U Wanna Dance) bred by Jeanne Lorang & Liz Kenitz, owned by Judy & Dallas Meggitt and presented by Martin Cabral picked up 4 points by going Winners Bitch on December 10 and 11. Entries were 2-5-(3-1) on Wednesday and 2-5-(3-3)Thursday. On Wednesday, Elle was shown to judge James G. Reynolds at the Kennel Club of Beverly Hills show. Judge Reynolds hails from Ottowa Ontario and has most recently judged Briards at the Santa Maria Kennel Club show in Ventura, July of this year. On Thursday, at the Los Encinos Kennel Club show, she was shown to Paolo Dondina of Monterchi, Italy. Although approved for all groups and BIS, judge Dondina has not had a previous herding group or breed AKC assignment.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

PNWBC has 1st AKC OTCH Briard!

PNWBC Board member Laurie Beck and Page DID IT! Breed history is made in Ridgefield Washington!

Thursday, December 4, they got the last points needed to earn the first AKC OTCH for a Briard - Page, OTCH CH Briardale's One For the Books de Lebec UDX2 (etc), bred by Jeanne Lorang, owned by Laurie and Justin Beck, completely trained by Laurie Beck. Page had earned the UKC Obedience Champion title (not sure if she is the first in that) a couple months ago, but Laurie wouldn't let Jeanne do any bragging until she got the AKC OTCH. She also is the only Briard with a UDX2. Page is 10 next week. Briards now have herding champions, agility champions, and an obedience champion.

Jeanne reports "this has been such a long journey for them both. Laurie made some mistakes early on, Page took advantage of them as only a dominant, smart Briard can, and she came very close to being euthanized for biting. But Laurie fought for them both to get better and learn, and they became a team. There were stretches where the points were just not coming, Laurie was hurting, Page was distracted, etc. Then this summer, Laurie called me in tears sure that Page's career was over, as she could no longer do jumps due to pain. It turned out an infection after dentistry had spread to Page's bones, and it took massive doses of antibiotic over a long period to get her healthy again. And they started picking up those last points, and today she reached 104, with a first place to boot! It's hard to understand how much work Laurie and Page put into this, unless you've followed the whole journey, and Laurie never would let me brag about what she was doing."

Last year Jeanne commissioned Carol Wolfram to make one of her beautiful glass pieces that said "First Briard OTCH", and Carol and friends have been carting it from show to show, waiting for the day. Today Carol was there to watch and give Laurie the plate. "I am so happy for Laurie, and so proud of Sassy's daughter. She'll probably be pissed I bragged before AKC confirmation of the title, but I don't care! No way I could wait! I just wish I could have been there to watch" said Jeanne.

According to Mary Weir a much more dramatic tale is in order......

Carol Wolfram said "the judge had 4 Q's out of the class all present in the ring. Laurie's obedience friends had figured she needed to get 1st or 2nd to finish. The judge announced the 4th place....... doggie walked up got ribbon. The judge announced 3rd place....doggie got ribbon. Drum roll!!!!!!!!!!! judge announced 2nd place... doggie walked up and Laurie had tears in her eyes as she knew she had gotten the title. THEN judge announced 1st and PAGE and LAURIE won!!! The crowd went nuts and the judge hadn't a clue what was going on."

"....and actually before that, the judge asked what legs people were working on. One team just got their 19th UDX leg (towards a UDX2), another their first X leg and a third their 7th leg. She then turned to me and asked what we were there for. I replied, 'oh, we're just here.' She didn't know what to say and everyone laughed" reports Laurie.

What a wonderful way to do it, with friends cheering you on. The judge marveled that Page was the first Briard ever for an OTCH. And Laurie is worried that she didn't comb her hair for the picture. Congrats to the team on a once in a lifetime win!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In retrospect, Laurie writes: "Page has been feeling so good lately that I didn't have a chance to get nervous before we showed. We were the last exhibitors in utility. We went into the ring, she worked with attitude and before I knew it, we were done. Going back into the ring for ribbons I got so nervous, I thought my knees might give out. "

"The commemorative plate that Jeannie had Carol Wolfram make is stunning. Now I understand why for the last few months Carol and friends were always asking how many points Page had. I didn't have a clue!" said Laurie.

"I've been so lucky to have had Jeanne to lean on whenever the chips were down, my trainer, Lori Drouin to call on when something broke (and believe me, when you're trialing for as long as we were, everything broke more than once), a friendly face outside the ring, Carol, to support us, and all of you to recognize our efforts" remarked Laurie.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Father Daughter Outing

Pictured in the slideshow are Andre (& Sonia) and Nutella, Andre’s 6 month old daughter, as they try out a little sheepherding. Nutella was the star! The farm is a herding training facility and boarding kennel named Canine Country Club owned by Lorri Schubert. It is located in Smokey Point, north of Marysville/Tulalup. Brian Ricard is the trainer. Brain works primarily with Border collies and is a USBCHA judge. The dogs are working in a 50-ft round pen. There are also small & large fields for training. Nutella is a natural, very instinctual. Andre works and works, really hard, to succeed, and Brian says he is very talented, but not with the instant instinct that Nutella showed.

This was Nutella's first ever experience. She was was very keen on it and quite happy about the whole outing. Including what she did when she returned home, to the cat’s sheepskin bed... Nutella was very pleased with herself. Nano, the cat, was not. Photos and story submitted by Barbara Stolz and Sonia Thompson.