Monday, 19 September 2016

Q is for Quintessence - getting ready for the Royal Melbourne Show.

Q is for Quintessence. In fact, Champion Bhealaich Quintessence, known to her friends as Emily.
This is Emily. Isn't she beautiful?
Apart from being my dog, Emily is also a show dog, and the day after tomorrow she will be exhibiting in the Royal Melbourne Show. It will be her first time as an exhibit; she was entered last year, but we had to scratch when she broke her tail a few days before the event. She's been to the show before though; she went two years ago for the Rare Breeds Showcase, so I'm confident she's going to enjoy it. The Showcase is pretty much the same deal, benched all day in the dog pavilion. It differs only from the exhibiting day in that there's no going in the ring. I'm starting to get ready for it today, because that leaves a whole clear day to fix anything that may be lacking. It's quite a big deal exhibiting at the Royal, it being the largest dog show, I'm told, in the Southern Hemisphere. People come from all over Australia for it.

This is Emily at 17 days.
The first thing is to make sure I have all the paperwork I need. Apart from the usual, we need tickets to get in. I have the tickets printed off and I put them carefully to one side. Reading the covering letter, I find we must drop off Emily at Gate 7 between 0600 and 0800. I don't remember it being quite so early in the past, but no doubt memory has faded; the last time I exhibited at the Royal Melbourne was probably five years ago or more.

As well as getting in, there's other paperwork I should have; the all-important number must be somewhere. I don't seem to have it in the stuff I printed off, though, so the next thing (don't panic - this is why I'm starting early) is to trawl back through my email to find everything the RAS have sent me. This is my first snag. I do find some more information, and I print it off, but no numbers. However, reading through the material, I find there is an 'information pack' that must be collected on the day, so perhaps it is in that. All the same, I'd better ring them and make sure. I don't need extra worries on the day, it will be stressful and exhausting enough. For me that is; Emily will sail through it having the time of her life. That's how she rolls. I make a note to call them as soon as possible, but it's only 0658, so it will have to wait for several hours.

The next thing is to assemble her kit. Emily has a show kit, of course. This isn't a big job, because I keep it loaded and in the back of the car. However, it needs to be checked and for this important show, perhaps cleaned out and refurbished.

This is Emily's show kit. The black bag on the right contains, in theory, everything she needs for a show. The white container is really more of a travelling feeding station - it is meant to contain food and has a removable food and water tray in the top.
Here, I have removed everything from the show kit. As you can see, it badly needed cleaning out. The next step is to go through all this and select only what is actually needed. Number thing, letter from the vet about her tail, wet ones, treats, poo bags, show lead, grooming gear and the chain. Her water bucket is separate, and I've left it in the car.

 Here, I have refurbished and pruned the kit. The grooming tools have been replaced with better, newer ones, the treats box cleaned out and refilled, and all the rubbish taken away. The kit tends to silt up with dead old numbers.

One thing remains to be added - the new collar and its matching show armband. These were custom made by Red Hot Pet, whom you can find on Facebook. They do such beautiful work and are a pleasure to deal with. Of course Emily cannot wear the fancy collar in the ring, but she can wear it all day and we will match. Thank you, Red Hot Pet, for a beautiful job and for your kindness in giving me the beautiful matching armband. Emily is going to look so much better than the other hounds.

By the time I get everything packed up again and my morning routine of housework done, it is 10:30, so I can ring up the RASV about my show number. It is easily sorted - the number and catalogue are in the Exhibitors Pack, which must be collected from the office on the day. 

The next thing to be done is grooming. Emily must have a bath; I don't believe in over-washing hounds, so she hasn't had one for months. Their skin is far too delicate to admit of frequent washing with soap, so I actually only ever wash her when she is going to a show, when of course it is a matter of etiquette to present the judge with a clean dog. Some dogs might smell after months without a wash, but this is one of the peculiar traits of the deerhound - they do not, ever, have that 'dog' smell. Even when very filthy, they smell rather like dry grass. Emily's personal scent is slightly sweet, as if there had been some flowers in the grass when it was cut. 

Before the bath, she must have a nice walk in the park. Once she is bathed, there will be no more offlead until after the show, lest she destroy my work by swimming in the stinking duck pond, or lying down in a mud puddle.

Emily justifies my suspicions by going into the stinking duck pond right up to her ears, drenching her beautiful new brocade collar.

Soaking wet and smelly!

But look how happy she is.

Once she is dry, she must be thoroughly brushed before we go for her bath. It won't take long; deerhound fur is not very dense and dries quickly. A quick lunch, a short reading break and I can brush out her fur. Did I say deerhounds never get smelly? I should have said, unless they swim in the stinky duck pond. Now, off to Petstock to cleanse the Princess and try to replace her orange ball, which she somehow managed to lose in the park.

Emily isn't keen to have a bath, but she knows the score, and if there's one thing she can do it is produce the behaviour appropriate to the situation. She steps into the hydrobath without even being asked. This is the result of situational, as opposed to command-based, training.

She does do some pointed shivering before I turn the water on, but I make it nice and hot for her (not too hot, of course!) and she bears it all calmly. Soon the scent of the stinky duck pond is replaced with that of lavender, from her special lavender shampoo from Serendipity Lavender Farm.

Pretty soon we're clean, more or less dry - I don't see the point of inflicting the blow dryer on her when she dries so quickly anyway - and on our way. 

And with that, I think we're ready for the Royal! 

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