Lurching Towards Mesey Hampton

We spent Sunday afternoon at a dog show, the V.W.H. Hunt Farmers & Supporters Club Terrier and Lurcher Show, at the suggestion of the local Bon Vivant who happens to be one of the aforementioned official “supporters.” Although the show would feature a dog agility competition, the first challenge of the day was to our mental agility and required that we locate the village where the show was being held, Mesey Hampton. This was not to be confused with the village of Maiseyhampton less than a mile to the north. After only one argument and a harrowing u-turn on a narrow road, husband and I found the V.W.H. Kennels.

My rural education resumed with haste. The grounds had two rings roped off, one for the Terrier classes (Jack Russell, Border Terrier, Lakeland/Fell, and Patterdale type) and one for the Lurcher classes. Much to my juvenile delight, the latter included competitions for both “rough” bitches and “smooth” bitches. Alas there were no rap video hos, only lovely greyhound-ish looking ladies. Bon Vivant Jr. ignored my guffawing and patiently explained the general principles of the proceedings. This was a dog show for country people and their working dogs. The terriers would be judged on the features that made them useful for hunting, like the ability to stick their snout down a hole, rather than the poncey stuff reserved for the world of pedigree shows. This was the anti-Crufts or, if you’ve seen the film Best in Show, the “anti-Best in Show” show. The atmosphere was relaxed, without poodles or bows or doggie blow dryers, and blissfully free of women in fringed costumes dancing with their dogs to “Achy Breaky Heart.”

The highlight of the day was when Bon Vivant Jr.’s girlfriend lent husband her smiley dog, Gypsy, a half-Collie, half-Jack Russell mix, for a spin around the agility course. Husband looked like a half-mad, oversized leprechaun, mouth pursed into an “O” and eyes agog as he coached Gypsy to jump and weave in a perky voice while running behind her in a dainty, trotting gait. Luckily Gypsy was trained in agility and completed the course with ease while more or less ignoring the strange man distracting her. At least husband didn’t climb through the tunnel as the lady before him did in an attempt to get her dog to follow (she failed). To the shock of almost everyone, husband managed to bag a second place time with Gypsy’s champion moves. He was awarded a blue rosette, which now hangs proudly in the kitchen, and Gypsy got a bag of treats.

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