Big Day–no, Great Day for Sweden

It was a huge day for Sweden today. The national ice hockey team won its semifinal game against Finland and they will play Switzerland tomorrow for the world ice hockey championship is Stockholm. No host country has won the tournament since Russia in 1986. Switzerland smoked the US today, which was a shame because I would have liked to have seen a US-Sweden final. Can’t have everything. The next huge deal in the country today was the finals of the Eurovision Song Contest. It is held every year in the country that won the contest last year and last year Sweden won. The song contest is a Europe-wide pop song contest that is held in each country starting in late winter/early spring and the winners of each country meet in the overall Eurovision contest. The songs are basically unlistenable for the most part but there are occasionally some outside the box performances and, tonight, an inside the box performance that stood out. An opera singer from Rumania came out in a dress and began his song in an operatic baritone and then switched to a falsetto. Wild. Another guy began his song which was utterly forgettable except his main prop was a body double in a glass box  that mimicked his every move including making like a shadow as the singer stood on top of the box, so his double was upside down resting on his head. That was definitely impressive. Okay that is big deal Number 2 for Sweden. The contest was held in Malmö, the third largest city in the country and people really get pumped up for this. Me, not so much. In fact, most songs are pretty bad and they mask it with lighting effects, dry ice smoke, flames, etc. You get the idea. It’s pop.

The third and biggest by far bit of news is that the lowest temperature in the entire country was 61 F. today. Basically, summer arrived on the 18th of May. In most places it was in the high 70s or 80s. For most Swedes this is too warm but it was beautiful throughout the whole country today and that is a rarity.

The final thing, however, tops these all. We took Prada to her first dog show in a town about 60 miles from Halmstad called Hässleholm. There were 1500, yes–1500, dogs there today and not a mixed breed anywhere in sight. This is a huge show put on by the Swedish Kennel Club. 1500 today and another 1500 tomorrow. Swedes are real dog lovers and these photos give only a taste of the show today.

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As seems to be the case with many Swedish events there were no police around.

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But lots of tents, carts on wheels, lawn chairs and water bowls. The dog show culture seems to be a serious affair.

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Many, many really fine looking dogs, every breed imaginable. Our dogs are small so it was surprising to see so many really large breeds for a change.

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There were 40 rings with at least one breed showing at each ring.

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We found a spot near Ring 23 but the shade under that tree looked like a better option so we moved and camped under it for the rest of the day.

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Prada’s competition was Danish Swedish Farmdogs so I scoped out the competition. This guy is a few months younger than Prada but already considerably bigger and I thought it did not look good for us.

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Tents where you can buy anything Dog.

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Mariette fixing her number (1456) to her blouse while Prada and Bianca look on.

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Prada chowing down on her pregame meal of a bone with chicken wrapped around it.

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Bianca was not competing so she wolfed her bone down and then chilled. I think she was the best looking Farmdog there and maybe we will enter her in a show another time just for laughs. She won two competitions as a yearling.

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Mariette and Prada getting ready to strut their stuff. The woman next to them go to dog shows often and were very helpful explaining how everything works. To give an idea of the dog culture here, last January Bianca got lost for half a day and Mariette posted the saga on Facebook. This woman had a friend of a friend of a friend who sent her the story and she had actually heard of our tale of woe that day.

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The dogs show in different groups, i.e., males, females, youngsters, etc. Every dog in a group begins by trotting around the ring and then individual dogs go in front of the judge who checks them over closely, head, throat, chest, teeth, back, legs, tail, a thorough going over. Then the owner trots the dog individually so the judge can see how the dog moves from behind, the side and the front. From this the judge makes his or her decision and an assistant holds up a colored card: red for excellent, blue for very good and yellow for good.Image ImageImageThere are other grades for disqualified (such as when the dog takes a bite out of the judge) or could not be judged for reasons that were not clear to me. We did not see any of those cards, though we were a little concerned that Prada might be disqualified for being too rambunctious. To our great relief she did fine.

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Here she is getting the once over by the judge.ImageImage

Then Mariette trotted her around the ring again, the judge conferred with her assistants and . . . little Prada, our undersized, spotted, overenthusiastic puppy got a score of EXCELLENT! The highest mark. We were floored. Another contestant said that here we were in our first show and our dog came out on top (only 3 out of 11 in her group got scores of Excellent). The only things the judge marked her down on was that her head was “too cute” for the breed (which is just fine with us) and her ears were a little too floppy. We often notice when out for walks that her ears kind of fold back over her head, which to me is the canine equivalent of wearing your baseball cap on backwards. Big deal. Other than that she was fine in every respect and the judge particularly remarked that she was very free in her movement, for which I take full credit because I let her romp to her heart’s content on our twice daily walks.

It was a complete joy to come away with such a good score. The heat got to all of us (well, not me, but definitely Mariette and the two dogs) but tonight our little hero was treated to some well deserved affection.

IMG_0252Her high score will make it possible for the breeders to get her a good mate, which is good for them. (We got her for free in exchange for two litters during the first five years of her life.)

We only care that she is such a happy dog and a real joy to us and to Bianca.

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