Monday, July 29, 2019

Dog handlers don't do math

This title of this post may be deceptive.

We do math.

We just don't do it well.

I've made it seven months into the year without offending Jack Onofrio. This is some kind of record and I figure my days are numbered.

Yes, I realize the man himself has passed on to the great down-and-back in the sky but his organization lives on to frustrate dog handlers in perpetuity.

I have been known from time to time to perform fuzzy math when calculating entry fees, which inevitably results in a snippy notice from Onofrio Dog Shows informing me I have failed to pay the appropriate amount and as a result (insert loud crashing chords of organ music here) my armband will be withheld and I will be required to do the march of shame (or, more likely, the desperate run) to the superintendent's table approximately two miles as the crow flies from the obedience rings before the show starts to hand over the requisite amount so I will be allowed to play that day's reindeer games.

Privately, I think every time this has happened it's been a sign from A Higher Power that we shouldn't have entered in the first place and Someone was trying to prevent the inevitable train wreck from occurring, but I haven't tracked those stats closely enough to prove it.

Good grief. I'm not trying to swindle the IRS. I'm trying to make heads and tails of a dog show premium list. There's a reason I went into writing for a living and if you've ever tried to figure out the fee schedule for a five-day cluster show involving multiple host clubs who could barely agree on a date and show site, let alone entry fees, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

My monetary offenses are minimal. I am an obedience handler showing one dog, not a steely-eyed breed ring professional in a power suit with a chunk of liver clamped between her teeth and a pin brush tucked in her armband hauling a string of dogs around on a circuit.

One dog, two classes per trial - Open and Utility. How hard can that be?

I just figured out Banner's dance card for late August and early September. In three consecutive weekends, we have the opportunity to enter 11 trials.

No. I didn't do it. How stupid do I look? (Rhetorical question. Don't answer that. Seriously. Shut up.)

I entered six. This involves five different clubs at three different sites with two separate show secretaries. One is the corporate entity whose services most larger kennel clubs use. The other one is a sensible, privately secretary'd affair that knows what they're doing and is on a first name basis with half the exhibitors.

I agonized over the entry fees. I used a calculator. I added and re-added. First entry of the first dog = $X. Second entry of the same dog in the same trial = $X. Times three because I'm showing three days, right? No. Wait. Club A has different fees than Club B. Club C's entries the following weekend are an entirely different matter because I'm entering non-regular classes there. Isn't there a break for the non-regulars? No? WTH. There used to be a break. Okay. No break. I'll stop whining. So this plus that times two carry the one, add the decimal point, it's the dark of the moon, Mercury is in retrograde, throw salt over my left shoulder and so mote it be.

These are the kinds of math story problems I should have been given as a kid. By now it's probably obvious I wouldn't be any better at them than those stupid trains that left different stations at different times and different speeds but it would have been a lot more fun.

If Sally enters Dog A in Novice B and Dog B in Utility A, each as a first entry at regular price at Friday's trial, then enters both dogs in the same classes at Saturday's trial hosted by a different club, then adds a second non-regular class entry for Dog A at Friday's trial, and enters Dog B only in the same classes at Sunday's trial, oopsies, different host club again, how much will this weekend's entertainment cost?

Probably a good chunk of change because Sally is going to be so frantic in the week before the trial trying to settle up with the superintendent she won't have time to train her dogs and they will be miserably unprepared. Sally should have stayed home and enjoyed an adult beverage. It would have been better for her blood pressure and her bank account.

I figure I'm doing good if I get all the i's dotted and t's crossed on the entry form. I have an AKC entry form set up as a fillable PDF on my computer so all I have to do is change the hosting club and date and print it out. Since Bann and I are relegated to Open B and Utility B for the rest of our born days, there's not much variation on theme.

Once I get the thing printed, all I have to do is check the box next to his AKC number (which my computer obstinately refuses to do), fill in the amount of the entry fees enclosed (pick a number, any number, it's probably not right anyway) and sign my name. Then I can write the check, pop it in the mail and spend the next month wondering if I'm actually entered because this superintendent is not well known for sending entry confirmations any time earlier than 72 hours before the show, if at all.

However, I've discovered if you don't send them enough money, they correspond much more quickly, confirming you are entered even if you are not in their good graces.

My last offense was to the tune of $1. I received a large window envelope with several sheets of printed paper detailing my fiscal offenses via first class postage. I owed them $1. I figure it probably cost them $1.50 to tell me that.

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