April 22-25, 2014 was The Poodle Club of America’s Annual Specialty Show at the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center in Salisbury, Maryland. It had been decades since I last attended PCA at the beautiful Ludwig’s Corner venue in Pennsylvania. I didn’t know how this show could match it, but the ability to defeat the threat of heat and rain to dogs and handlers made for a more relaxed and enjoyable event. Remarkably, the flowers and floral arrangements—a hallmark of PCA—were even lovelier. Many were flown in from Hawaii due to a member’s generosity. It was a bittersweet and touching moment when I noticed the banners overhead acknowledging four great and generous legends of American poodle history: Rebecca Mason, Dr. Sam Peacock, Annie Clark, and Dr. Jackie Hungerland.
But enough about the trimmings. On my goodness, the dogs! Can you imagine almost 900 poodles of every size, shape and personality gathered in one spot? And do you envy the judges needing to sort through them all to find the one “almost perfect”poodle?
In ALMOST PERFECT, I wrote scenes where the puppy Breaker overcomes incredible odds to win because the spirit and energy he exudes demands for him to be chosen. Although I knew what I was describing could actually happen, there was always a tinge of suspicion in my mind that I was taking literary liberties and exaggerating the truth a bit. Not true! What we saw in this year’s show was exactly as I described it. The words I had written circled through my mind as I watched, as though it was a movie clip. Of the ninety or Standard Poodles that came forward and circled the ring, Ch. Dawin Hearts on Fire (“Flame”) grasped everyone’s attention from the first step. She was breathtaking in looks, as were many others, but the gleam in her eye and the electricity (I wish I had a better word) she exuded was something that could be felt even high up in the stands.
Another twitch of worry I had in writing my novel was the great success the puppy Breaker had at such a young age. I knew the facts were on my side that a young dog can rise to great heights in the dog show world, but I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. Well, that bucket list item was checked off at PCA this year. Not once, but twice! Again, the sparkle and pizzazz (again I struggle for words) of a twice-small, brown Toy poodle puppy circling the ring like he owned it — which he did—was an unforgettable sight. The judge sounded almost apologetic in commenting on his unusual choice of such a young dog, but we all knew we were watching something very special we were unlikely to see again. Until we did, a few minutes later when a second very young, very tiny black Toy became Best Puppy in Show.
A remarkable event with the heart-stopping drama and beautiful backdrop that no one does better than PCA.