The Road To Grand

An Excerpt from the Diary of Jodell Raymond,
Proud Mom of GP, RW Sassipurrs Berlioz’s Grand Adventure

Published July 2004

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Looking back now, I cannot believe that the whole thing is over. It went by so fast! Too fast! Can I do this again? We won’t tell anyone that he is a grand! Five shows in all and he is a GRAND! (Actually, I tell people four. One show did not count-I will explain in a minute. Positive, positive spin….) Overall, it was a great, and fun experience! It is now March. I started this whole thing back in September when he was a kitten. It is a good thing I did! This whole cat show thing is not as easy as it looks. Fun, definitely fun….but not easy.

December, 2003

Bear is in the Open class in premiership. I read in PandEcats that all we needed to get were six red, white, and blue WINNERS Ribbons. There are six judges and it is a two-day show. There are no other Himalayans in his class. I know better than to take ANYTHING for granted. But, Note to Self: Next time if we are the only ones in the class, bring a book!

However, the Road to Grand Premier did not start out easily. What a winter! When we got home from the show where Bear got all six winners ribbons, he was sick, throwing up, and not eating. I was scared! In the past, when I had a cat that was throwing up, it meant that he had a blockage and you had very little time to get him to the vet. Ed and I rushed Bear to the emergency vet that night and they said that it could be a blockage. My mind was reeling. Could he have gotten into something? He is just a kitten. Maybe I did not see him get into trouble. How could I have let this happen? I was in tears and upset and said, “Anything. Just do anything to fix this.” They said that they would keep him overnight, give him barium, and x-ray him and see if there was a blockage. If there was a blockage they would operate. I said, O.K., just please, if you have to shave, only take what you need. He is a show cat.”

We did put in a few calls to the vet that night and the barium x-ray did not reveal any blockage. Whew! We could come pick him up the next day. We get to the vet, get him out of his cage, and he cannot walk. He could not move. I mean he was screaming every time he moved. My perfect baby – and, they shaved an inch and a half of his right paw. What part of, “He is a show cat and take only what you need did they not understand?” I am beside myself. “What happened?” I ask. “It could have been that he was struggling and got his foot caught,” they said. “We will give him some medication. He should be fine in a few days.”

A few days turned into SIX weeks later before he was running and jumping and back to his normal self. In the end, all he had was THE FLU. I am not criticizing the emergency vet service. I am sure that they do great work and are used to “worst case scenarios.” I am not sure what happened and the fact is that I will never know. All I know is that I had a cat who entered the hospital with the flu and who came out of the hospital so sore he was not able to move. Oh, boy did I bargain with God again after I got him home. At that point it did not matter if Bear would ever be a show cat. All I wanted was to have a healthy cat. I did not leave Bear for the first two weeks. He and I were holed up in my office for two weeks straight. I mean, I cancelled EVERYTHING. I spoon and hand fed him every few hours, helped him use the litter box, cleaned his face, combed him, massaged his legs, and cried, A LOT.

Needless to say, we did not go to any entered shows in January. That was the least of my worries. I made sure I gave myself a reality check. When and if ever we were able to get to shows again: whatever happened, happened. Ribbons were nice as long as the cat was happy and healthy, and it really was o.k. if we did not get any ribbons. I did not have to show him. He will always be “Best Cat in House” forever, no matter what he does in the show ring.

So, here it is….From my official Diary: “The Diary of the Mom of A Grand Premier!” I did not know what to expect when I first started out. I found that I really enjoy showing, watching everything that goes on at a show, making the cat look his best, and making sure that Bear has a good time. Oh, and of course, I must admit, I do like the finals thing and the ribbons. Good thing--I don’t think Bear minds showing at all. I did keep a close watch on him to see if he was getting cranky. Oh, at an eight ring show, by the last ring, he looks at me like, “How about you go and put yourself in that cage and have a perfect stranger get YOU out and then we will talk. Shake that teaser toy at yourself and don’t bug me!” And as for Hubby Extraordinaire, a.k.a., Ed, I think he is getting used to the cat show thing as well—or he is good at pretending.

February 2004

Show #1 : I get a new dryer and test it out on Bear. It practically blows the poor thing across the room. He does not have his happy face on. But, he deals with it. I give him the “You are a SHOW CAT” speech. He promptly ignores me. The first ring-we get called for a FINAL. I was watching the Persians being judged in a championship ring and fell out of the chair. So much for acting cool and collected! Ed did not hear his number either as he was reading a book. Great! I rush over to the cage, grab the cat and say to Ed, “This is going to be a different experience!” On my way to the ring, I am thinking. “How does this finals thing work again?” It is way different than Kitten. Show #1: Respectable. Ten points down; 65 more to go. Shaved paw and all! One of the judges asked me what happened. I tell her using the short, real short version. “I cannot tell you how many times I have heard of vets shaving too much. Stay with the cat if at all possible,” she says. No problem. By the end of the show, Bear remembered what to do on the judging table and did not appear to mind the show process. Whew!. It is good to be back out again! It was a long six weeks! The weather cooperated. My friends were worried about me they told me later. I was very pale they said. It is winter. I am always pale.

Show #2 : The next show we did nothing. No points at all. “Tough crowd,” I said. Ed and I were disappointed for about ten minutes. I started fretting about how much it cost for no points and adding up the hotel, tolls, entry fees, and meals. How come we don’t calculate how much it costs when we get points? Oh, well. He is healthy and happy and points are points and there’s always the NEXT SHOW! I was glad that I had had my “kitten experience” and that I learned to keep myself occupied and keep things in perspective. It happens. We had been through this before. I did have one judge at that show tell the audience that the Himalayan (Bear) was “beautifully presented.” Moi? It is a full-time job keeping that cat clean. That was the first time I ever got complimented on how he looked. Thanks! I finally figured out how to groom him properly. Only took five months, water everywhere, and Goop getting left in the wrong places…But, at least I learned!

After I entered three shows for March, I asked Ed if he wouldn’t mind doing Bear and I a teensy weensy little favor: I was still unsure of driving in bad weather with one spoiled cat, and still unsure of the whole show process, so would he be sooooo kind as to drive us to and from the shows for the month of March? We could go out to dinner, spend some time together, relax…..He is not even listening to me by the time I finish.

March 2004

Show #3 : Bear, Ed, and I begin our three show marathon. March Marathon I call it. Three weekends in a row. I can now see what the breeders go through weekend after weekend. I am tired! Fridays are a blur trying to get out of town and Mondays are non-existent! I am determined to forget about Show #2 and went to Show #3 with a positive attitude. And…Bear got 28 points! Very, very cool. He was the second highest scoring premier overall. Yup, by now, you know me, I was out of control. I mean beside myself I was so excited! It took a minute to dawn on me: “Oh, we are in a FINAL with ROSETTES again! Oh, too much fun!” He got a 9th Best Cat and a 3 rd Best Cat in Longhair specialty rings. For the 3 rd Best Cat, the judge got to the top five cats and I had to sit down before I FELL DOWN. And, not to mention two (not one, but two!) Second Best All Breed Premiers. It was all too much to take. I am calling friends and family from the SHOW HALL! Twenty-eight points plus 10 points from the first show. Thirty-eight points to go! We are half way there!

Show #4 : It is a one day show. Tiring, but efficient those one day shows. Ed kept walking around saying, “Now this is how they all should be.” I am glaring at him and telling him to be quiet. Bear gets fourteen more points. Second best longhair in an All Breed ring, Second Best Longhair and 10th Best Cat in a Specialty ring. And, another Second Best All Breed Premier. Oh, we are almost there! A few more shows and we should be done! Ed does not complain anymore!

And, I learned how to keep track of points with a calculator and using the PandEcats points chart. Me, who never does math! I can also add points up in my head! Too bad I did not have a show cat when I was in grade school. I would have learned math real quick!

Show 5: Twenty-three points left to grand. Oh, my. The count comes in. It is a big show. We have never been to a show that had this many premiers. I call Ed at the office and prepare him for the worse case scenario. “It could be like the second show,” I say, “But, we are entered and we might as well take a chance.” After all, what are we going to do at home this weekend? Weekends are for cat shows! Tired, who's tired?

I REFUSED to think about this show during the week. From Mondays ( well, maybe not on Mondays because I was sleep walking) to Friday I would fret. I would wear myself out before the weekend. What if this, what if that? THIS TIME was going to be different, I vowed. I had a talk with myself and promised myself that if I was going to continue showing that I would have to CALM DOWN about this whole thing. No sense having a stroke. I would just get so excited when his number was called for a final I could not stand it. So, I REFUSED to think about the show at all that week. Remember my pledge: Whatever happens, happens. We have gotten this far, I kept saying to myself over and over, we will be fine. Somehow, through all of the bathing, blow-drying, whisker cutting, and sculpting mishaps, not to mention the shaved paw and his injury, I managed to learn what it takes to have a show cat. I will see the grand thing through to the end, no matter how long it takes, I pledge. He has done well. I am having fun. He does not seem to mind it. And, Ed, well he is not complaining-- at least publicly.

We get to the show hall and I am nervous. I did not eat breakfast that morning. Talking to myself does not work, walking around does not work, nothing works. The more I tried to talk to myself the more nervous I got. What was I nervous about? Other than the fact that it was a big show for premiers and premiership. Occupy yourself. Do a crossword puzzle. Write the number 23 down and circle it. No, forget it. You are not supposed to be thinking about it. Wake the cat up. He needs to be awake. Play with the cat. Talk to the cat. What do I do? I am sooo nervous. Why am I nervous? You would think that I was being judged? Feed the cat? Don’t show the cat you are nervous. Take a walk. Wait! Put the cat back in the cage before you take a walk.

First ring. The judge calls him for a final. I put him in the cage. She is going through the four cats. What is he still doing up there? I am pacing now. When is she going to talk about HIM? Best All Breed Premier. What did she say? NO WAY! It cannot be. We are almost done? Twenty-two points in one ring. Is it possible? One more point? I could not have scripted this any better. This is like the movie, “How to Have a Great Grand Premier Experience.”

Oh, God. I now have a worried look on my face. I tell Ed, “But what if we don’t get that last point here?” I know, I am Miss Positive Energy and Light! I go tell the experienced breeders. They laugh. It happens. “But, you have seven rings left. Don’t panic just yet,” they say. Don’t panic. Easy for everyone else to say. They have been through this before.

What do I do now? The next two rings nothing. My eyebrows are in a permanent frown. Everyone else laughs at me. The last ring of the day: Bear gets called for a final. Oh, this is it. He is assured of one point. Done! We are done! Second best longhair. Thank you very much. I said I would jump up and down and cry when it happened. I remember when other cats have granded, the owners shouted out “New Grand.” Me, what did I do, you ask? I am dead silent. I am thinking, “Oh, no. We are done. Now, what do I do? We came in a caravan! I cannot go home now! This is Bear’s Grand Show. He is done. He is a Grand!” I did tell the judge when I went up to thank her. “You should have shouted it out. We like to hear when they grand,” she said. Hmmn….I was too stunned…Me, who never is at a loss for words.

What do I do for day two? Keep him in or pull him? I struggled back and forth with that question. Am I a points hog if I keep him in? “What do I do,” I asked the experienced people: Keep him in or pull him? I get ten different answers. I decided to keep him in because it was my first time, and you know what—Bear and mom deserved it! We worked as a team he and I. We both started from scratch, from nothing! And, there will never be another first grand! I also decided that I was curious to see what the other judges thought of him. A few of them saw him as a kitten and as we know, that had been a long, long, time ago.

Day 2 : We check the total counts. Bear actually granded in the first ring on Day One. One cat was added. Twenty-three points. Oh, my—we were done in the first ring!

At any rate, on the second day, Bear makes THREE out of four finals: Two second best longhairs and another BEST All Breed Premier. Will I ever get over being off-the-wall excited when he gets called for a final? Yes, I needed medication by the time we were done with the show! Whew! Sixty-one points in one show. The second highest scoring premier and the highest scoring longhair premier. Like I said, I can add points in my head now! Was this fun or what? What a show!

On the way out of the show with Ed and Bear in tow, I say to Ed, “What do we do now? He retires? It would be a shame to retire him. He’s so pretty. He is not even a year old? Hmmnnn. I wonder if I can keep showing him as a grand premier? I think you can do that, right? All three of us together, traveling, seeing the countryside. You know, just for fun,” as I yell to Ed who is now running out of the show hall pretending not to hear me….

After all, how hard can it be?

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