On Saturday, May 14th, Maisie turned 9! I don’t really know how that is possible, the years have passed so quickly.
Since the day we brought Maisie home, she has been an absolute joy. Her greatest desire is to please those around her and she is the most perceptive dog I’ve ever known. She is so tuned in to human emotions, she can sense things before they become apparent to others. That quality is what makes her an outstanding reading assistance dog in Chicago Public Schools.
This year, Maisie’s birthday coincided with the Newfoundland National Specialty in Frankenmuth, MI. I can’t imagine a better way to celebrate her birthday than to travel up there and experience the week with Maisie!
In previous years, 2018 and 2019, Winn and I went to National and Maisie stayed home. I had never trained her in dog sports, and it didn’t occur to me that she would like them. The National Specialty in 2020 and 2021 were both cancelled due to the pandemic, so this year the organizers blended all three years into one amazing show. That set the theme of The Greatest Show on Earth celebrating 2020. 2021 and 2022.
We drove up on Mother’s Day so that Maisie and I would be ready to compete Monday morning. We started the day in a grand way by placing 3rd in Novice Obedience and her earning her Companion Dog title! I’m especiallly proud of this because we only started training about four months ago and I took her to her very first obedience trial the weekend before where she successfully completed the first two legs for her title.
On Tuesday, she earned her Rally Novice title with another high score and later that afternoon we gathered with all of the other regional clubs and participated in the Opening Ceremony. Each club interpreted the circus theme with costumes and floats. The local marching band was on hand and each club got to strut their stuff across the ring and then we all followed the band to the river front for a champaigne toast to kick off the week.
Wednesday was another successful day and the final day of our obedience events. Maisie and I bumped up to Rally Intermediate where she earned a perfect score of 100 and first place. I decided to move her into the Veteran’s Obedience class which is more of an exhibition class. Somehow she knew it was her last event and she showed off. She was her abolute best and most joyful, rolling over for a belly rub after her recall. She knew she was doing a good job and couldn’t contain herself! The judge was charmed and chuckled as she pointed us to our final exercise. She earned first place in that event as well and I was so proud of all she accomplished.
At this point in the show, the conformation judging begins and the building with the obedience rings turns into grooming central. Everywhere you turn, there are Newfies and their owners prepping for their time in the big ring. It is really a sight to behold! Maisie handled all the extra noise like a pro and seemed to genuinely enjoy being around all of the excitement.
Thursday afternoon, after the judging of the boy dogs concluded, there was an honors ceremony for dogs that have earned titles. I signed Winn and Maisie up for this and we stood ring side waiting for their names to be called. The dogs are called out by birth year so Maisie was first then we waited a bit for Winn. This is special to me since neither of them are conformation dogs and we get to parade across the big ring and celebrate their accomplishments.
Friday was our last day at the show. The female dogs are in the conformation ring and during the lunch break is my favorite event of the week, the Rescue Parade!
The Rescue Parade is something I wanted to do with Annie, but the timing wasn’t right for her, so I make a point of attending every year in her honor. I had three friends participating this year with their Newfs and it was emotional for all of them. Each Newf is called out with their owner and their story is read over the microphone. They receive a medal and have the option of running around the ring. To hear each of their stories, all so different, many heart breaking but also heart warming is incredible. They have all found their forever homes and are treasured and loved as they should be. The first dog called out was in memoriam, and his owner carried a stuffed newf in his honor. The remaining all took their turns and there were tears and smiles all around!
After a little more shopping, we packed up and headed home. This week was so memorable. I was happy to get back up there and participate in this big event after two year pause. I am also a lot more confident in my handling skills and to have Maisie by my side was so very special. The week flew by and as always, I can’t wait to go again next year!
Happy birthday Maisie, you are such a special girl!