When Raina Moss entered the ring at the 137th Westminster Dog Show with her Clumber spaniel Totsi, she had only one thought on her mind: "Don't trip," Moss said, with a laugh.
"That would be really embarrassing. You just want to stay calm. Stress can really travel from the leash to your dog," she said.
The Junior Showmanship finals on Feb. 12 in New York City's famed Madison Square Garden included seven other competitors. Moss kept her cool, helping 3-year-old Totsi place fourth overall. She is the first junior handler to place at Westminster with a Clumber spaniel. She also won a $3,000 college scholarship.
"I like spaniels. I like their temperament, their attitude, how happy they are. They're really smart and pick things up quickly," Moss said. She is a Battle Ground High School student and has been a handler for about five years. She learned how to show dogs in the fourth grade as part of her 4-H club.
She started with Betty, Totsi's mom, before participating in local and regional American Kennel Club competitions.
"Clumber spaniels are really mellow, loving — and they get really attached to their owners," Moss said.
Originating from England, Clumber spaniels are part of the sporting breed, according to the Westminster Kennel Club, which also describes the dog as a "dignified buffoon."
"They're one of the top 10 rarest breeds," Moss said.
And as one of the only Clumber spaniel junior handlers in the country, she is just as rare.
Though the 15-year-old made it to Westminster last year, she did not advance to the finals. The competition was a lot more fun this year, Moss said, especially because she and Totsi appeared on television. Reaching the final ring is even more a feat because the qualification level to compete was raised for this year's show. Junior handlers had to have at least seven or more wins as "Best Junior Handler" to be invited.
Moss hopes to return next year, though she has bigger goals for her future.
"I plan on being a veterinarian," she said. "Dog shows expand my knowledge."
She recently moved up in handler class, from open intermediary to the open senior class, for ages 15 to 18. "You're out there with kids who have shown a lot more than me," she said, "but I'm confident."
You can watch Moss and Totsi performance in the finals through the Westminster Kennel Club's website: http://www.westminsterkennelclub.org/videos/Junior_Showmanship.
— Ashley Swanson
Special gig brings pair of folk friends together again
When Tom May and David Mallett play a special gig at the Irishtown Public House this weekend you might sense a special connection that goes beyond the folk music they both play.
In addition to appreciating each others' songs, the pair have been friends for 35 years.
May, 60, of Battle Ground met Mallett in 1978 at a performance in Boston, and the two became fast friends. They've never toured together, but over the years they've played many of the same festivals and shows.
"He's always someone I respect so much," May said of Mallett. "David has really touched my heart with his music."
Mallett's best-known song is probably the "Garden Song," and other pieces of his work have been covered by Emmylou Harris, Nancy Griffith and Pete Seeger. A version of "Garden Song" was performed by John Denver on "The Muppet Show" in 1979.
Mallett, who is based in Maine, doesn't get out this way very often. So when he told May he was coming to play at the venue, 11600 S.E. Mill Plain Blvd., May offered to open for him -- and let Mallett stay at his house.
"He only gets out this way every six or seven years and he really is extraordinary," May said.
The concert will begin at 7 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door. Call 360-253-1470 for information.
— Sue Vorenberg
Bits 'n' Pieces appears Fridays and Saturdays. If you have a story you'd like to share, email firstname.lastname@example.org.