New Year, New Puppy, New Goals | Proverbial walk down memory lane with a leash in your hand

New Year, New Puppy, New Goals | Proverbial walk down memory lane with a leash in your hand

New Year, New Puppy, New Goals, remembrances of your first dog come easily to mind. For me, it was the Christmas my Daddy gave me a new mattress for my bed. I tried to hold back the tears; daddy didn’t tolerate a cry baby. My mother softly chided him, so he said, “Okay kid, go look on the back porch.”

Whether owner handler or professional handler, a smashing good puppy can take you through years of dog show success.

Fearing it was another trick, I remember dragging my feet, then opening the door to the sun porch, and there was a dog!!! Sitting right in front of me, wriggling her butt, tongue lolling, those big, soft Spaniel eyes looking up at me expectantly.
I can still feel her licking my face… tears I guess. My hands remember her long, silky ears.
As she slobbered all over my cheek, Daddy said her name was “Babe.” He could have said “Santa Clause” and that would have been more fitting! My mother said she was a “registered” English Springer Spaniel and that she retrieved on land or water.
The fact that Daddy got her more as a hunting partner for himself than as a pet for me didn’t matter. That was my best Christmas ever and the year that followed is one I treasure. How incredibly fortunate that I was to grow up in a world where Santa Claus was real and dreams come true.
My job here is done because by now your mind is wandering. You are thinking of your first dog. Then your first dog show and how nervous you were, but also how thrilling that first blue ribbon was.
I’ll bet you remember the year you packed away Christmas and headed for the January circuit in Florida. What a great way to start a New Year! New friends, and a “world-beater” new dog to start. Back then we measured dates by which circuit we could make or whether we’d skip shows for a while and have a litter instead.
See me smile now… Then we got motorized homes and could take all the dogs with us! And shucks, all our friends were at dog shows so that was our biggest social outlet.
February meant Westminster, and for us southerners, getting there and back on icy roads was a big deal. Sometimes we came back from “up north” with a purple ribbon or even a Group rosette, though we always came back with memories to last a lifetime.
Whether owner handler or professional handler, a smashing good puppy can take you through years of dog show success. But whether you win or not, there are dogs that will always live in your heart, and another COVID-year will be bearable and better because of a dog.
So have a Happy New Year every day in 2022. Have fun at the shows with that new puppy. Be appreciative of family and friends, and reach out to someone you haven’t talked to in ages.
But don’t forget your first dog and, most of all, hug your old dog!

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  • Barbara “BJ” Andrews is the breeder of over 300 AKC Champions including over a dozen All-Time record holders. She is the author of 8 breed books and founder of 3 AKC Breed Clubs. In 1998 she launched the world’s first public website (TheDogPlace.org) followed by TheDogPress.com and TheJudgesPlace.com which, as part of the NetPlaces Network, serves all facets of dog ownership and exhibition. She and husband Bill pioneered the Akita, Miniature Bull Terrier, and Toy Fox Terrier to AKC recognition and BJ served on the board of each Parent Club. She has judged in England and AKC Specialty Sweeps. She was awarded UKC All Breeds approval but has never applied for an AKC judges license because it could interfere with objective reporting on the sport.

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