Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Proud Papa Moment

So, Saturday.

For the past several months Ashley has been going to 4H. If you are unfamiliar with the concept of 4H -- here ya go.

Ashley's group works with dogs with the culminating event being the Hartford Fair Dog Show where the kids do their best Westminster impersonation.

Ashley has been working with our 5 year old Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Skipper. We think he's around 5. We got him at a local shelter a couple of years ago. Being that I work from home Skip attached to me immediately and Ashley was frustrated because he became more my dog than hers.

This was the whole point of doing Dog 4H. Ashley wanted to try to bond more with Skipper.

So we'd take the 20 minute drive every week to dog practice where Ashley would work with Skipper, learning how to show him and how to work with him in a formal "dog show" setting.

It wasn't easy and required daily hand feedings by Ashley so as to train Skipper to both listen to commands and to trust her. Months or practice.

We had been in a few "practice" shows over the summer, getting ready for the fair and Ashley did ok. There is the dog show part and an oral exam part where she has to answer questions from the dog handbook. She's a really smart kid but tends to get worked up when taking oral tests.

So anyway Saturday was Fair Day and the dog show lasts from 9 til around 4 so we were there literally all day. Ashley and Skipper performed so amazingly well Saturday that both Mary and I were stunned. So when Ashley was awarded the 1st place trophy and the blue ribbon for winning her Jr division it was one of those surreal parenting moments -- much like what a father feels watching his son score the winning goal or hitting the late inning homer.

I was filled with pride after she won because she had worked so hard on this for months on end.
I was shocked she placed first not because of the ring performance (she and Skipper really nailed that) but she also did great on the exam portion. Even Ashley couldn't believe it.

I think the best part of all, though, was when Ashley went over to her friend who also showed her dog and that dog flipped out due to being in close proximity to cows that were being shown the next day and stabled nearby.

Her dog simply would not perform. This little girl was devastated. Ashley walked over, after giving me the trophy and ribbon to hold, and basically consoled her for the next 15 minutes. It's just the kind of kid she is.

As parents we all have moments with our kids that we know will stick. Ask me what Ashley did over this summer or last summer and it's all a blur. Ask me 10 years from now what Ashley did over the summer of 2010 and I will immediately tell you: That's the summer she and Skipper bonded and won at the fair.

It was definitely one of those moments.