Open Obedience and Hillside Spaghetti Dinner Benefit

On Sunday morning it was raining as hard as ever. Obedience and agility events were scheduled to run outside. Bandit and I were entered in Open A obedience and Novice standard and jumpers agility. I was still on the fence about running in agility. The field was even muddier and slippier than the day before. We concentrated on obedience first. Just before we were to enter the obedience ring, a line of horses started walking across the adjacent field. When we started the heeling pattern, we were walking toward the horses…well, I was walking toward the horses. Bandit was mesmerized by this line of horses walking by in front of him and jumped up, ran to the end of the ring and watched them for a second. Then he remembered me—“Hey Mom, look at these horses—oh, what are you doing way back there? Oh, this is an obedience ring? Maybe I should go with you then!” And eventually he returned to my side and we finished the heeling pattern. He did a passable figure 8, I think. Then he proceeded to nail the retrieves, the drop on recall, and the broad jump, the exercises I had been concerned about. No sweat! Then he did the sit stay just fine, but stood up out of the muck (but didn’t move forward) on the down stay. This was our first time in open obedience and, under the circumstances, I was pretty happy with his performance. I admit I had not trained him specifically for obedience outside in a muddy ring with horses moving in the next field. I think if I had somehow been able to impress on him better before we went in the ring that this was, in fact, an obedience ring, the horses might not have been as much of a factor. Our next trials will be indoors in Minnesota though.

After obedience, I agonized again about running Bandit in agility. I even walked the course. But after seeing two dogs slip off the dog walk and more than one person wipe out in the mud, I decided to play it safe and hold out for the cattle herding. We can do agility at home just about any time, but we have to travel to find AKC cattle trials.

Shortly after noon we headed to Pottsville for the spaghetti dinner to benefit the Hillside SPCA. Let me digress to tell the story of how I hooked up with them. I couple of years ago, my friend Eileen circulated an e-mail message about Bucky, a senior shepherd mix dog who had been at Hillside for over a year. They wanted very much to find him his own family, and he looked so forlorn in the photo. Eileen and I corresponded with Janine, who works at Hillside and took Bucky for regular walks. Eventually we were excited to learn that he had found a home.

When I found out that Bandit and I would be going to Pennsylvania, I decided to look up Hillside again. I knew that Pennsylvania is a huge state, and was amazed to learn that Hillside was only about 20 miles from where we would be staying. AND they were having fundraising events during the weekend we would be there. So I asked them about selling books at their fundraisers and donating $5 per book sold to the Hillside SPCA.

At the spaghetti dinner fundraiser, I met some of the people who we had corresponded with about Bucky, including Janine and the shelter director, Barbara, who had been away for a while in 2006 because her son had died. They told me that Bucky found a wonderful home with people from Reading, PA (near where the Specialty was being held). Bucky later passed on as an old dog, but had the opportunity to be loved and spoiled before he died. His adopters had not been known to the shelter before, but since then they have become friends with Janine and have adopted other special needs pets from the shelter. It was wonderful to hear that Buck had found a loving home before he passed on.  Some of the shelter workers bought Kate’s book and I donated $5 per book sold to the Hillside SPCA’s Joseph Parnell Spay-Neuter/ Emergency Fund (named in honor of Barbara’s son). They invited me to visit the shelter later in the week. It’s a unique place where the animals aren’t caged all the time. The people who I talked with all had interesting stories. I think they could have their own book! There is a great feeling of community in Pottsville, although they’re struggling to keep the shelter funded. The dinner was at the local fire hall and the owners of a local restaurant had pitched in to put on the dinner. Lots of nice people there! I sat next to Diana, who was taking the tickets for the dinner. She was originally a stockbroker from London and had met a Pottsville man there. Eventually they married and moved back to Pottsville. Diana was enjoying life in small town America and mentioned that some of her former stockbroker co-workers had recently lost their jobs due to the financial crisis. She seemed happy to be in Pottsville, an ocean away from the hustle and bustle of London.

BTW–After smelling that spaghetti all afternoon, I couldn’t resist. I ordered a dinner to go and it was delicious!!    


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