Most of my life I looked forward to the Memorial Day weekend as the beginning of summer. As a child, the weekend meant the first of four family picnic gatherings. We would always gather at my grandmother’s house for Memorial Day, then her birthday in June, again on July 4th and finally for Labor Day. My mother had five siblings, and there were 20 first cousins in the brood. Add in the occasional great aunt or one of my mother’s half siblings (my grandmother had six ex-husbands) and you had way too many people to fit in Grannie’s cottage at the lake. So picnic we did.

Later, Memorial Day meant a long weekend at the dog shows, first in South Jersey, then in SOCAL (Southern California). Our Number One Dog All Breeds, the Wire Fox Terrier, GCH CH AfterAll Painting the Sky, is at our former SOCAL haunt, taking in Pomona’s Mission Circuit. So far, Sky and handler Gabriel Rangel have gone three for three, picking up the BIS at the Los Encinos Kennel Club, the Antelope Valley Kennel Club and the San Fernando Kennel Club shows. Should Sky take today’s San Gabriel Valley Kennel Club show, she will have 28 BIS this year.

Also posting multiple BIS this weekend is the Number Three Dog, the Miniature Pinscher, Marlex Classic Red Glare. Classie and owner/handler Armando Angelbello were in North Fort Meyers FL Saturday and Sunday picking up both of the big rosettes from the Greater Fort Meyers Dog Club. Not all the multiple wins have been accomplished by top-ranked dogs. The Smooth Fox Terrier, CH Absolutely Talk of the Town is in NORCAL (that’s right, Northern California) at the Hangtown-Sierra Cluster in Placerville. So far the 18-month-old son of Westminster Group winner GCH CH Slyfox Sneaks a Peek and handler Eddie Boyes have both of the Hangtown Kennel Club Of Placerville, CA’s two BIS. Today’s offering is the Kennel Club Of The California Sierra. Care to take bets? Also going two for three this weekend is the Mastiff, GCH CH Willow Ridges Risky Business, who is in Bloomington IL where she has taken BIS at Friday’s and Sunday’s Illinois Valley Kennel Club Of Peoria shows. She has one more chance, today’s Corn Belt Kennel Club show.

One win that brought a smile to my face was the BIS posted by the English Cocker Spaniel, GCH CH Dawnglo Knight Rider, at Friday’s Staten Island Kennel Club show in Freehold NJ. The win was the first BIS for Kitt, the first for owner/handler Liz Neff, and the first in nearly 30 years for a black English Cocker.

While I still look forward to Memorial Day as the beginning of the dog show days of summer, I want all of you to consider this. My grandmother raised her children in the 23 peaceful years between 1918 and 1941. She had to contend with the Depression, but she never had to worry about her children coming home from a foreign land severely injured or, even worse, never coming home. Wherever you spend your Memorial Day, don’t forget why we observe this holiday and ask yourself this question, “What have I done to preserve my freedom?” And that’s today’s Back Story.