I always knew that Laila was destined to be a champion. Most people in French Bulldog circles would logically attribute her conformational charms to her father as he was a celebrated Grand Champion. But what most French Bulldog people don’t know is the fantastic, though less decorated, lineage on her mother’s side. It was always my fantasy to have the photograph of her championship win include the three individuals that constituted the other side of the family. Yes, it was really important for Fessie, Gadi and Modi to be seen at the party.
Going into the weekend of the four shows that constituted the Shoreline/Malibu Kennel club shows at the Orange County Fairgrounds, I was confronted with a dilemma. Laila needed only one win to obtain her championship status. There was no guarantee of her winning on any specific day and so I was in a quandary about how and when to transport the four dogs, and how to maintain control of them at the shows. To arrive at the shows by 7 A.M., I had to leave my house at 6 A.M. I tried to coax my friend, Chuck, into coming with me for the first show, but he was able to come up with a reasonable excuse not to go. I decided that under those conditions I couldn’t risk the breakdown in decorum that Modi and Gadi were likely to supply, and that I would do the next best thing and wear a tee shirt that was decorated with a portrait of the three dogs. If Laila was lucky enough to win the show and her championship at the first show on Friday, I would simply stand behind her in the picture with my chest puffed out, sporting the picture of the three adults. I figured that it was better than nothing.
But then the b’shert moment came. Normally, pictures of the winning dogs are taken immediately after the awarding of the ribbons, but on this day there was to be a detour. Due to the hectic schedule of both the judge and the handlers, I was offered a choice: we could wait for a couple of hours until time became available or we could do the pictures on the following day! The following day sounded pretty good to me. I knew that it would be a sure thing that Fessie etc. would be there for the championship picture and that best of all, my daughter Hillary was going to be coming to the shows on Saturday and would be able to help me maintain control so that there wouldn’t be a scene from Dogs Gone Wild.
Normally, when I go out, I rarely dress myself. My wife, Linda, has been making me presentable for the past thirty five years. While she was visiting daughter, Dr. Melanie, in New York, this week, I have had to fend for myself and after seeing me in the same sweat suit for three days running, Hillary asked if it was my new uniform. I knew that I would need to be more presentable if I was going to be in a picture with my pack the following day. Ironically I was in the closet trying to figure out an outfit to wear — something I never do–when Linda called on Friday night, but this was a really special occasion.
I met Hillary early Saturday morning and we proceeded to the show grounds with the four dogs in the back seat. Hillary’s original motivation to go to the show was not necessarily to be of help to me. That was conveniently an offshoot of her real reason for going. Her dog, Bella, was diagnosed two weeks earlier with a nasal carcinoma and had successfully undergone two Cyber Knife, radiation treatments the week before. Hillary was going to the show to talk with a number of friends and show people who travel with their animals, to get tips on how to certify Bella as a service dog so that she could travel in the airplane cabin on an upcoming trip to Mexico. But by the end of the day, it was obvious that I couldn’t have accomplished what I set out to do if it hadn’t been for all of her help and that 99% of her time was taken up in being indispensable.
Laila was left with Wood and Jenny at their work area which was adjacent to the building where the French Bulldogs were to be shown in ring 1 at 8 A.M. I had also brought a portable kennel, in case Modi or Gadi misbehaved and needed a time out, which I set up near the ring. On the walk from the parking lot to the show area, Hillary maintained good control of the two banditos who sporadically lunged at passing dogs. Fessie remained aloof and imperturbable. We found two seats near, but not too near, the ring. Coincidently, we found ourselves right next to the official photography site. I had some unfinished business to conduct as I was carrying a set of photos which had recorded Laila’s major win at the Antelope Valley Kennel Club show four weeks earlier. The flaw with the photo was that it mistakenly proclaimed this win had made her a “New Champion.” As prescient as that moniker would be, for the sake of posterity, it would need to be airbrushed out. I also reminded Vicky, the show photographer, about the makeup photo shoot from yesterday’s win, and explained my fantasy involving Fessie, Gadi and Modi being in the picture. Reassuringly she was happy to do it and reassured me that it wasn’t so unusual a request and that “you can’t do it by yourself.”
Meanwhile, the showing of the French Bulldogs had commenced. Because she was now a champion, Laila did not have to participate in the preliminary rounds of showing and was able to proceed directly to the finals where the Best of Breed honors were to be awarded. This decision was made following her win the day before. There is an etiquette involved in dog showing that adheres to the adage, “Don’t break the major”. What this means is when you have the option of moving your dog up and bypassing the preliminary groups in shows immediately following the championship win, it would be regarded as a shonda, or unspeakable shame, to skip the prelims, when by doing so, the entry would be decreased by enough to lower the value of the win to something below a three point major. After having discussed this with several of the other owners, I was given their blessings to make the upgrade as it wouldn’t “break the major.”
Well, Laila’s debut as a champion was a great success as she was awarded the title of Best of Opposite Sex. This win provided her with the first step in her quest to become a Grand Champion. We proceeded to the photo area and had the picture taken of Laila, handler Wood Warnall and Judge Shoemaker. I then went to ring 3, where Judge Rella, was judging Miniature French Poodles and reminded him that we had a photo, in fact, THE PHOTO, to do. We agreed that we would meet with the photographer and handlers at the beginning of the lunch break about 90 minutes hence. To kill time, Hillary and I took the four dogs on a leisurely walk through of all things, a flea market that was being held on grounds adjacent to the dog show. We returned to the photography area about ten minutes before the appointed time and while Hillary sat with the dogs I went around reminding one of the Wornalls to be there and then set off to catch Judge Rella as he came out of the ring and escort him to the shoot.
When I finally arrived with Judge Rella, the final piece of the puzzle was in place. Hillary and Jenny were standing with the dogs ready to proceed. The crowd around the photographer’s podium had grown much larger and as the subject of the previous photo alit from the stand, there was a palpable surge of the crowd. But Jenny saved the day! “We’ve been waiting and we are next”, she proclaimed with the vigor of one who is pressed for time. We scrambled to our places on and in front of the podium and amid the surrounding tumult we got the picture that I had been longing for.
When I look back at the effort that was required to make it happen and when I think about Laila’s new title of Champion, it somehow gives conflicting connotations to the phrase “What a Bitch!”
……………And that’s how we got the picture.
Happy Note: This article appeared in The French Bullytin, Vol. 29, No. 2.
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For more pictures of the darling Frenchie Doggie family, click the Frenchie Dog Pix and Laila & Paretnts buttons! Stayed tuned for more doggie show adventures with Laila Tov!
To read what happened next, click here!
To read the story of her first great success, click here!
Cigars all ’round! Dr. B becomes a great-great-great-great grandpa! See the videos — Laila Tov has 3 little puppies!
I was eagerly anticipating the weekend of shows at the Earl Warren Show Grounds in Santa Barbara for several reasons. For one thing, after her Best of Opposite Sex award at the South Bay Kennel Club Show, earlier in the month, I felt that Laila was hitting her stride and was ready for the top competition…..and in these shows, that’s exactly what she would get. I finally had learned how to navigate the AKC website and decided to check how many Grand Championship points she had amassed. Much to my surprise, she was the sixth ranked French Bulldog in the state of California! But it got even better—she was the second ranked bitch in the state and was ranked twenty-ninth nationally among all Frenchies. But as I said, she would be tested, as the nation’s top ranked bitch and California’s top ranked bitch would both be in the competition.
Secondly, Linda and I were invited to the annual party for French Bulldog exhibitors to be held on the beautiful Saint Francis Ranch. I had heard so much about the unique features of the property as well as the graciousness of our hostess for the evening and we were looking forward to the party. But most exciting of all was the anticipation I felt, that I, personally, was going to show my two wonderful Veterans, Fessie and Gadi, grandparents to Laila and parents to Modi, in the French Bulldog Club of America Specialty Show.
And that’s how Linda and I found ourselves driving up to the Fess Parker Resort in Santa Barbara with our family of four French Bulldogs piled high on their bedding in the back seat of our SUV. Upon arriving at the hotel, I was happy to see that our accommodations included a large rooftop terrace for the dogs and us to relax. I must admit to having some butterflies about the showing of Fessie and Gadi even though the showing of the Veterans is more like an exhibition than a competition. In our practice sessions at home, Gadi was easy. He trotted around on leash like a natural show dog and held his stack while on the judging table. Fessie was a different story, however. Standing still wasn’t a problem for her, but trotting around on a leash at my behest was not her priority. After a few steps, it was dayanu, enough, and she would plant her feet and look at me as if saying, “So what are you going to do now?”
The first show, under the auspices of the Simi Valley Kennel Club, was held on Friday morning. After a short walk I dropped Laila off with Renata and Modi with Jenny and drove back to the hotel to pick up Linda. Fessie and Gadi stayed in the room to watch Fox News. It was my luck to sit down ringside next to my friend, Allen, who literally had a problem on his hands……his twelve month old bitch was scared and refused to walk on leash. With visions of Fessie in my head, that was all I needed to increase my anxiety. The judge that day had evidently lost his glasses as Modi finished second in her open class and Laila went unawarded.
During the show we received directions to the ranch. My wife Linda, always the epitome of proper etiquette and good taste, inquired of our hostesses as to whether they would like us to bring some wine to the soiree. I reassured Linda that it wouldn’t be a problem to gas up and procure the wine on our way to the party. However, the best laid plans can often go awry and within a few minutes of leaving our hotel, we found ourselves on a desolate road ascending the mountains that separate Santa Barbara from the inland Santa Ynez Valley. All the while, I was cognizant that my gas tank was emptying and that in this wine growing mecca, there wasn’t a store that sold wine to be found! How embarrassing it would be to show up empty handed after specifically bringing up the subject with our hostesses. Luckily, I realized from the directions that the ranch was located about two miles from the entrance to Lake Cachuma Recreation Area. Years ago, when my kids were young, we took several RV trips to the Lake. As we approached the entrance to the ranch, I decided to take a gamble and proceed to the Recreation Area. Fortunately for me, the area was as I remembered it — complete with a gas station as well as a General Store that sold local wines!
Within a few minutes we were back at the entrance to the ranch and proceeded up the mile and a half long driveway. On the way to the ranch house, we passed a herd of zebra, a herd of water buffalo as well as a these incredible African Longhorn cattle sporting horns that were at least five feet long. Upon reaching the main house, we were greeted by our hostess, Alex, who escorted all of the bulldoggers on a tour of her gardens. The gardens were intriguing, featuring many varieties of cactus and succulents with interesting sculptures interspersed throughout. Alex was very knowledgeable but she was even more than that. In spite of having ample help on the ranch, she was hands on,selecting and planting her own specimens. This was in line with her involvement with dog showing. Alex has had the top winning French Bulldogs for the last several years and unlike many of the owners who campaign their dogs by having them travel all over the country with paid handlers, Alex and her sidekick Debby actually go to all the shows.
Before we went into the house for dinner, I asked to be shown a unique snake fence that had been erected to keep the dogs safe from the rattlesnakes that frequented the surrounding acreage. The fence featured an outward projecting phalange at the top which essentially turned the snake backwards and upside down when it tried to slither up and over the fence, thus causing it to fall back to the ground.
As I entered the house I felt a prickly sensation in my side. After pulling my shirt up in the corner of the living room, Linda suggested sojourning to a bathroom where she could investigate my problem more discreetly. Either I had brushed up against a cactus or a cactus had taken a swipe at me, for what she found were scores of the little stickers in my side. While most were removed over the next ten minutes by taking adhesive tape and doing a Brazilian wax job on my side, it took several more days until the last of them were removed.
I knew most of the people as we had been seeing each other at the shows over the last year and a half. However, I had the pleasure of meeting the owner of the nationally top ranked French Bulldog bitch, Patty Hearst Shaw, who was here from the east coast to root her “Diva” on. She must have been a good rooter, for “Diva” had won Best of Breed in the Friday morning show.
On Saturday, there were two shows scheduled. The morning show was an all-breed show under the auspices of the Santa Barbara Kennel Club and the afternoon show was the French Bulldog Specialty Show under the auspices of the French Bulldog Club of America. Fessie and Gadi were to be shown in the specialty show in the afternoon and they spent the morning with Linda back at the hotel while I took Modi and Laila to compete in the morning show. This time I sat with my friend Linda and unbelievably, she had the same issue that Allen had experienced the day before — her entry, a nine month old bitch, was too scared to walk around the ring and had to be withdrawn! At this point I was out of my mind, certain that Fessie and I would be humiliated and disqualified when I attempted to show her. Coincidently, the judge had also misplaced her glasses and we had the same results as in Friday’s show.
Finally, the show that I was waiting for was about to start. I had gone to the hotel and picked up Fessie and Gadi and Linda, and there we were at ringside watching the preliminary classes. Modi won her open bitch class and eventually was named Reserve Winners Bitch (or conversely the title of Best of Losers as my friend Dr. Hamil laughingly says). It was now Gadi’s time to enter the ring — for his first time ever! He didn’t miss a step as he jogged around like a champ. Placed on the judging table, he stacked up and let the judge examine him without moving a muscle. “How old is this dog?” asked Judge Meen. “This dog certainly looks great!” was his response after learning Gadi was seven-and-a-half. I couldn’t resist telling him that he would be meeting Gadi’s wife, ten-and-a-half year old Fessie in a few minutes and that he had already awarded daughter Modi with Reserve Winners. And, oh yes, his granddaughter, the Grand Champion, Laila will be in the Best of Breed competition. We did another lap around the ring to the applause of the crowd.
And then it was Fessie time! And what a time it was. She rumbled into the ring and continued her determined gait. No pausing today, no stopping today and no sitting today. The applause increased as she was stacked and continued on her last lap. Even though she was unopposed her blue ribbon and title of Best Veteran Bitch was certainly well deserved. How proud I was.
In the Best of Breed round, Laila was given an Award of Merit. What the hell was that, I wondered? As defined by the AKC that award is “one of the highest awards that is given at a specialty or championship show. It signifies that the dog was in the running for Best of Breed, and, in the judge’s opinion, a top quality specimen worthy of wins at a National level.” Sounds impressive but no Grand Championship points are awarded. Still, we all went back to the hotel happy and relieved. And we had momentum going.
Linda and the Veterans took Sunday off while Modi and Laila and I went back to the show grounds. Coincidently, I had decided to wear my Panama hat and when I got to the arena several other exhibitors were wearing totally outrageous hats. “It’s Hat Day,” Arlie, Debby and Alex exclaimed, which made me feel right at home. Modi again was given the Reserve Winner title but Laila hit the jackpot winning Best of Opposite Sex- that is the best female in the entry of seventy-five contestants. Judge Lajeski, who showed such exquisite taste, was actually a last minute substitute. The scheduled judge had to withdraw due to a family medical emergency. Coincidently a year and a half earlier, in Laila’s second show, and in Judge Lajeski’s first time judging French Bulldogs, he had awarded Laila the Reserve Winners Bitch title. He was pleased when I informed him of his consistency. Even Laila’s handler, Renata, was so excited that she decided to be in the award photo that followed.
Well, the family affair could hardly have been more successful. But it was about to get even better. I learned that the entire weekend’s shows had been photographed and that the photos would be available for purchase. So many terrific shots of Fessie and company while they were in the ring. So what did I do? Of course I ordered a custom album, just like the wedding and bar/bat mitzvah albums that help us relive the memories of happy times.
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NEWS FLASH, 2014: LAILA TOV TAKES WESTMINSTER! Winning Grand Champion, and now appearing online in the NBC segment featuring 3 of America’s Top Dogs from the prestigious event!
For more pictures of the darling Frenchie Doggie family, click the Frenchie Dog Pix and Laila & Parents buttons! Stayed tuned for more doggie show adventures with Laila Tov! And to read the story of her first great success, click here!
MORE BIG NEWS! LAILA TOV GIVES BIRTH TO THREE GORGEOUS PUPS!
The kids at 25 days are on view on our Facebook page. Keep checking to see the kids as they grow up!
When’s the last time your pet had a good time at the vet? Watching this video, ‘Dog’s AMAZING Vet Visit with a GoPro Fetch Harness,’ shows a dog can have fun when the vet visit is with Dr. Baum, and staff at Center-Sinai Animal Hospital, even when getting weighed!
This video stars the fetching Gadi, a leading member of Dr. B’s Frenchie Family, Dr. Baum, Receptionist Amanda, and other staff at Center-Sinai, all of whom had a lot of fun starring in this ad for the GoPro.
Would you like to see more pics of Dr. B’s Family of Frenchies? Or read some stories Dr. B has written about them? Hit the buttons below. Enjoy!