You’re all just burning in suspense, wondering “how did the weekend go?”
It was great!
Maybe you’re wondering what it’s like to be an assistant? Well, first you wake up at 4:00-4:30 am and spend no more than 30min in the bathroom. About 10min before you plan to drive to the show you have to turn on the truck to prime the air brakes and take the puppies out to pee. On your way to the grounds you stop for Starbucks to order a venti with extra everything and get some oatmeal or a sandwich for breakfast, which you must down quickly because as soon as you arrive at the grounds you have to turn out all the dogs into the x-pens or take them for walks. If it’s day one you first have to set up your set up, meaning put out giant mats with a bunch of x-pens on them and raise the EZ Up, then get out the grooming tables and tack boxes. After all the dogs are done with their morning potty you get to drink your coffee and relax for a few minutes.
The first class always starts at 8am, so any dogs entered in 8am classes must be prepped starting at 7am or so depending on the breed. A Rhodesian Ridgeback needs a lot less prep than a Borzoi or Airedale! Starting at 8am you’re ringside holding a dog or going to get a dog or taking a dog back to the truck. If you’ve been with your boss (themselves a pro handler) for a while you might even be in the ring showing since they can only be in one place at a time. This goes on all day: groom a dog, take the dog up, show the dog, let the dog potty, give them a quick clean up, put them back.
If the dog wins Best of Breed they will have to go in for Groups, which usually start around 2pm. You get a lunch around noon, but any dogs going into group will need re-groomed. Same thing: groom, show, potty, back in the truck. The end of the day is around 5-6pm, at which point you do dinner and pass out. If it’s the last day of the show you have to tear down the set up first though!
There is down time, but for the most part you always have to be ready to go. We took 17 dogs, 3 of which did not show, and 3 or 4 dogs met us at the show. So a total of 17 or 18 dogs were in the ring over the course of a day, with each one needing groomed at least once!
What did I think? For one thing, I finally met Lauren (and made other friends too, yay!) and she’s fabulous. Super fun, super nice, and knows what she’s doing. Since Val is injured she spent as much time as possible off her feet, so I spent most of my time with Lauren and her opinion means nearly as much as Val’s, so it’s a good thing Lauren was impressed by me. As for the work, I was dead tired on the first day. I slept like crap on Fri night, got up a 4:30am, and was on my feet all day. The second day was better, perhaps because I got a larger coffee and drank a Rockstar. That said, the work didn’t really feel like “work”. I enjoyed it! It’s not always easy, but it’s fun. Granted this was my first show with Val and the end of my first week at Briarcliff, but so far so good.
When we got back Peter came up to the truck and asked me “what did you think? Are you staying?” I replied, “you can’t scare me off that easily!”
What did Wally think? He didn’t like being away from me so much and really didn’t like not sleeping with me (I didn’t like that either, next time he should be able to tho; Peter’s Stafford came with us so Wally had to sleep in the truck). He still doesn’t really understand why I put him in a crate or x-pen but do things nearby, why don’t I just let him out with me? But overall he did well and got better as the weekend went on. Mainly he was exhausted from all the activity and excitement.