Showsight April 2023


the show. At the show, I would put the dog on the table and go through all the motions while not actually doing a damned thing. Now it’s not everyone who can claim to have been stalked by a nun. At one show, I was putting on my grooming performance—hours ahead of ring time. I’d put the dog up, fuss a little bit, trim a whisker, and return the dog to a crate while I wandered aimlessly about the show. I wasn’t aware of the lady in the flowing white habit who was shadowing me about the building. As ring time drew near, I put the dog back on the table and continued my grooming charade. “Can I do the head?” came the strong inquiry? I looked up to see a Dominican nun in high dudgeon whose tone of voice let me know in no uncertain terms that I was doing it wrong. I felt like a kid in Catholic school. All she lacked was a ruler in her hand. I meekly handed over my shears. It seems that Sister M. Dolorosa was a noted breeder of Bedlingtons in California before taking her vows. You had only to watch her hands as she snipped and trimmed to know that this was a professional. We won that day, and the most unlikely of friendships took shape. For as long as she was able, I would take my dogs to the convent and she would set up in the back of the building and groom away. When groomed, she delighted in taking the dogs through the hospital at which they worked as therapy dogs. No matter that they were untrained, Sister’s perfect guidance made them perfect. It took almost a Papal Bull, but we eventually convinced her to judge a Beddy sweepstakes at a local specialty show. The weather was abomi- nable for this outdoor show and the rain came in buckets. Still, muddy habit and all, the good Sister proved that divine guidance can help pick great winners. Sister bred a great line of dogs and knows the breed through and through, but she thinks Marcus is too big. I need to get the new puppy up there for her to visit with. So, our show career began. It’s almost impossible to carry on a judg- ing schedule and still find time and places where you can show your own dogs. Toss groundhog season, fox season, and ratting all year long into the mix and your show schedule looks meager indeed. Still, we did well, and Marcus enjoyed the travel and the limelight. We didn’t know it then, but where showing had originally been our sole purpose, it was only a beginning.

Sister Mary Dolorosa, a former Bedlington breeder, grooms to perfection. The results are divine!!!

I’ve never subscribed to the theory that you can’t keep two stud dogs in proximity. Hell, I’ve kept 30 of them together and eventually they sort it out. Harmony, however, was not to be the case in the new mix. While Marcus muddled on in trying to absorb his new surroundings, Catcher (Marcus’ son) decided to try out for Alpha Dog status. The Bedlington Terrier is designed for a particular type of hunting. Actually, the pursuit of game by illegal means. Poaching. If you’re skulking about at night where you don’t belong, doing something you shouldn’t be doing, you don’t advertise much. No barking. No growls. No warning. A fast attack and a punishing grip between huge canines that is sel- dom released voluntarily. (And that, dear reader, is why one must NEVER spar Bedlingtons in the Conformation ring.) It took me a few months of infrequent, but serious, fights before I figured out that in each case, Catcher was the instigator and Marcus the able, if unwilling, participant. Catcher inflicted a fair amount of damage until he was rehomed to a life of luxury as the only dog in residence. My dream for Marcus was that he would become a world- class show dog and would propel himself and his aging owner to greatness in the Conformation spotlight. As a one-time professional handler, I was pretty sure that I could waltz the boy around the ring as good as anyone. There were also dreams of untold riches from stud fees and personal appear- ances. I loved that dream… and still do. Reality was significantly less than the dream, though, and I rather quickly discovered that I couldn’t groom a Bedlington worth a damn. The great groomers within the breed tried their best to teach me the ropes, but sometimes even the best efforts are doomed to failure. I solved that problem by taking Marcus to a friendly close-lipped Beddy breeder who would do all the hard work and the hair-perfect scissoring a day or two before


Richard Reynolds was dubbed the “Ratcatcher of New York City” by the venerable BBC. He enjoys his time spent with dogs, whether as an exhibitor, judge or hunter. From the rings of Westminster to the hog bay pens of Texas, he explores the world of purebred dogs and the people who love them. There’s hundreds of stories that need to be told, and if you see him out and about, let him know yours. Better yet, take him hunting!


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