Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Asheville Adventures with Monster Milos - Episode 1

The Leonberger Club of America held their National Specialty in Asheville, NC this year. This is a trip that we figured we could make from remote Maine - next two years will see it in the western states. So, the planning and reservations were made; both dogs groomed; everything packed; the thermostats set to 50 degrees and we were off on an adventure.

The trip down was beautiful - if long. Maine, NH, MA, CT, NY, TN, WV, VA: those were the states we drove in the first 15 hour day. Through the valleys and over the mountains watching the snow piles shrink and flowers begin to appear. It was even uneventful driving through the Hartford, Waterbury, Danbury areas of CT. View our trip and click on the links.
We stopped at a Motel 6 in Harrisonburg, VA. These are great for travelers and pets as they only charge a $10 pet fee. This one had a large field available for walking - which would have been great except for the rainy night.

Now, Sophie doesn't travel much and Milos get so bored. Neither of them would eat any dinner and no one liked the doggy-bathroom-facilities. Into bed around 11 PM with hopes of a good rest. Milos out at midnight; Sophie out at 2 AM; Sophie (Nervous Nelly) got stomach cramps around 4:30 AM and I sat with her until around 6:30 when we actually started day two.

It was 5.5 hours from Harrisonburg to the show in Asheville which was held at the Crowne Plaza Resort. We rolled in around noon ready for showers, only to be told check-in wasn't until 4 PM -- grrrrr. Off to Pizza Hut for lunch and back to the parking lot to walk the dogs. There were Leos everywhere and it looked like the time to get out our two furry friends. Excitement - Fun - Games - Showing (at least this is what Dave and I thought). Strange Boy Dogs - Good smelling Girl Dogs - Dangerous Times - New surroundings: this is a job not for "Marvelous Milos" but for "Monster Milos". How deep can he growl? How hard can he lunge? How many people and dogs can he frighten? Testosterone Bursts! Where or where did my little dog go?

We walked him around trying to maintain some semblance of order and at least look like we knew what we were doing. The beast at the end of the leash - ever alert for dangers around the next bush or door. This is going to be a challenge. Our room is on the second floor and you must go through 3 sets of fire doors to get there. Milos is certain that there will be an attack on the other side of each one and therefore, they must be approached with a snarl and a pull. By mid afternoon, I am sure the word has spread throughout the show that there is a Maine Monster in attendance. Thank goodness for leo-people, and their understanding and willingness to help.

David took both dogs to the room to calm down and I attended a seminar on the Canine Genome Mapping Project being done at MIT and Harvard (presented by K. Linblad-Toh: Lindblad-Toh, K, et al. (2005). Genome sequence, comparative analysis and haplotype structure of the domestic dog. Nature 438, 803-819.) They are starting to see results which which is exciting for the health of not only dogs, but also people in areas of osteosarcoma, hemiosarcoma, thyroidism and more. Following the seminar, dinner was a southern BBQ where we met up with old friends and put many faces to email addresses. One more potty-run and it was off to bed for night two.

Wonder which Milos will wake in the morning?

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