Because of his age and the arthritis in his right front wrist, my old champion Snape (Gr.Ch. Wych’s Prince of Summer) has become a house dog. Because of his age, getting him up and down the stairs into the basement for a bath is an ordeal–for both of us. He’s no longer completely steady on his feet while navigating stairs so he relies on me to prevent a fall. Until yesterday, even though he was slow, he could still climb them without assistance. Yesterday, after he had a bath and a complete blow-out with the dryer, I had to lift his back end on each step.
That assistance brought home just how old he really is. He’s eleven and a half years old. He’s been with me since he was eight weeks old and when I first picked him out, I really didn’t want another male. I was tricked into meeting him. I’m glad I fell for the ruse perpetrated on me by his sire’s owner and the owner of his mother. As a puppy, he was a bright red and for some time, I thought like his sire, he was going to be a pure for sable. Until he started to grow his adult coat when he was about 18 months old…and then that rich, deep mahogany began to fill in.
Finishing his championship took time–because he is one of those dogs that doesn’t really look a lot like other collies in the ring and the right judges had to be found for him–older judges who’ve been in the breed for decades. Every one of those judges who put him up, whether all breed or specialty judge, all had the same comment–that he has a “classic look” to him. He finished his championship with all-breed points and specialty major wins.
Snape is my pet. My highest aspiration for my collies is that when they are retired from the show ring, they become “pets.” There is life after the show ring. Most of us will never have a top stud dog. Most of us will seldom have a top ten winning dog. Most of us will never win the Nationals, but I think most of us have these dogs who hold a special place in our hearts. The day Snape finished, while I was crying tears of joy, another person in this breed was very angry. Perhaps forgetting that I was set up behind this person, this person threw a pin brush into their tack box and announced that they couldn’t believe “that f$&^ing pet won.” Whether or not I was meant to hear that comment is neither here nor there. I did hear it, and I have not forgotten it. I have since come to realize this person is no more than a bully, just as fierce in the bullying as those who bullied this person in high school. I actually pity this person. And, I’m very proud of my “f$%^ing pet.” He holds a very special place in my heart and none of the insults hurled at him will ever take away his championship, his grand championship, and most certainly never take away that place in my heart.