The Last Dog Show
ALAN NAFZGER’s The Last Dog Show
The Last Dog Show – Pecan Street Press
Lubbock ● Austin ● Fort Worth – The Last Dog Show
The Last Dog Show is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Copyright © 2013 Alan Nafzger
All rights reserved.
Gelert and the Last Dog Show
Written by Alan Nafzger
EXT. Orange County Convention Center – Orlando – PREDAWN
GELERT Buchanan (43) is a dwarf. He is exactly 4′ 5″, coincidentally the same height of Peter Dinklage.
GELERT is a quiet, withdrawn and unmarried man. Since childhood he has a deep love for dogs. GELERT is a long time dog groomer and assistant to an elite professional handler. He works for a lady named JACKIE ARGENTINA (78). The two characters are actually diametrically opposite. Gelert is taciturn and JACKIE is definitely not.
Because GELERT feels ostracized by a public that might view him as peculiar due to his size, GELERT tries to keep to himself.
It is December, early Thursday morning. It is Florida, sunny and a wonderful 73º. At night the temperature plunges to 63º. It is the first day of a cluster of four dog shows. The Saturday show is scheduled to be televised.
GELERT exits a high dollar RV with a giant dog – a Great Dane. The black dog towers above him or at least looks GELERT in the eye. He is a magnificent specimen of a dog.
In a few hours, there will be a dog show inside the building. GELERT’s job is to exercise the 20 show dogs entrusted to JACKIE.
We cut to see the interior of the convention center. It is not entirely empty. There are dog show rings and ring-side chairs and empty crates. The grooming area is divided into taped off areas called “setups”. This is the location where the dogs are groomed and it is something of a staging area; before the dog is shown, they are waiting in this area. There are only a very few people in the entire building this early.
Back to the parking lot. There is a giant decorative Santa set up in front of the JACKIE’s RV. All the professional handler’s RVs are parked in a row, each allocated 4 parking spaces, and every handler has some sort of holiday decoration – Santa, a tree, a candy cane, a reindeer, etc. There is a contest each year for the best RV decoration. For these professional handlers, it’s not enough to compete in the ring 150 days per year, they must compete in the parking lot every Christmas.
GELERT leads the GREAT DANE down about two rigs. He passes a petite young blonde girl (19), also a handler’s assistant, who is walking in the opposite direction with her Irish Wolfhound. The blonde girl works for an African American handler named AARON, who has a “black Santa” decoration in front of his RV.
CUT TO Aaron, who is shaving in front of a mirror.
BACK TO GELERT and the blonde girl.
GELERT says nothing but nods, acknowledging the blonde girl. GELERT might have a hangover; perhaps he just doesn’t wake up promptly. It is very early. In any case, GELERT doesn’t smile this early in the morning he only nods. Come to think of it, all the first half of the movie we never see GELERT genuinely smile.
Good morning, Gelert.
GELERT now turns and manages a polite frown.
They pass and walk in opposite directions. GELERT stops in front of the AARON’s RV. And the BLONDE GIRL stops in front of JACKIE’S RV. GELERT’s DANE lifts his leg on the “black Santa”. GELERT’s DANE is a fire hose and takes forever, he looks back and sees the WOLFHOUND also peeing on the Santa outside of JACKIE’s rig. Dogs have this mutual peeing society; GELERT and the BLONDE also. They have a certain kindred spirit (irreverence); they might be a “match” but given the circumstances… probably not.
It seems that they have an arrangement and every morning they allow their dogs to pee on their boss’s Santa. No one is going to be angry except JACKIE and AARON and they aren’t around. The “actual” handlers are grooming themselves; getting ready for the dog show.
The two assistant handlers half wave at each other, as the dogs pee on their employer’s Santa. The BLONDE GIRL’s wave is only a bit more energetic than GELERT. It might be an uneasy relationship since they are competitors inside the building, but outside (in the parking lot) who really cares what gets pissed on?
GELERT and the BLONDE begin walking toward a grassy area. There are several signs that say, “Please pick up after your dog”. Or, the signs say, “Keep off the grass.”
GELERT’s GREAT DANE takes a dump that is actually huge. GELERT winces because he will now have to pick it up. He pulls a “Wal-Mart” bag out of his pocket. He picks up the “dog shit” and throws it in the nearest trash. There is a loud sound of it hitting the bottom of the container. The trashcan is empty at this time of the morning; this is the first and largest deposit of the day.
The BLONDE GIRL is still waiting for her WOLFHOUND to do his business.
GELERT and the DANE leave the grass and enter the Convention Center.
There is a sign above the Convention Center entrance “CHAMPIONSHIP DOG SHOW – Thur – Fri – Sat – Sun”.
INT. JACKIE’S RV – CONVENTION CENTER PARKING LOT – PREDAWN
JACKIE has a custom designed “canine specialist show rig” which cost her about a half a million dollars back when her career was in its prime. It is a very clean super fortress and a gas-guzzling tank. It is overkill now, she exhibits smaller dogs and most of the large built in crates in the rig are empty or full of ribbons and trophies. The largest crate is curiously full of coffee. Everything is neatly arranged in the vehicle and in her home and clues tell us her life story.
GELERT and JACKIE travel around the country exhibiting the dogs of multi-millionaires. JACKIE takes care of the dog show politics and the business. She is almost always on the phone, winning friends, doing deals and helping people select the best genetic stock. JACKIE is also a teacher everything she does and says is explained to GELERT (her student). GELERT simply nods and hardly ever says anything. But, GELERT listens to everything. GELERT takes care of the dogs.
GELERT unloads and loads the equipment, crates and dogs. He feeds the dogs and grooms them. Jackie exhibits the dogs in the ring and sometimes GELERT gets to do this. He is selfless of course and actually doesn’t enjoy the role of handler as much as Jackie. GELERT cares for and drives the rig and his hard work makes JACKIE’s life easier and enables her career to run nearly to infinity.
EXT. PARKING LOT – CONVENTION CENTER – DAWN
We see a television broadcast truck with its huge dish pointing at a satellite. There are WORKERS laying cables, carrying camera equipment and lights. Mostly the WORKERS are just standing around drinking coffee, but some work is being done.
INT. Convention Center – DAWN
Hours before the show begins, we see a line for coffee at the concession stand. Before the concession stand opens, there is a queue of customers. The people appear simply unable to function without it. GELERT walks past the line but he is discerning and only observes.
There is a professional handler specializing in giant breeds. There is a SAINT BERNARD, a Neapolitan Mastiff, a Newfoundland, a MASTIFF, a Rhodesian Ridgeback, a Tibetan Mastiff, a Great Pyrenees and a friendly goofy Cane Corso.
The Cane Corso is on a grooming table. The dog is somewhat disobedient for a show dog; he wants to play and refuses to stand still this early in the morning. The tail is wagging the dog. Perhaps it is a puppy – a substantial but silly dog.
The handler “stacks” the dog, forcing him to be still.
How does he look?
He looks good.
The professional HANDLER then looks at the GREAT DANE in GELERT’s charge. GELERT and JACKIE have transported the dog from Texas to Florida.
Is that for me?
Tell Jackie thanks for bringing him. How much do we owe you?
I think the owner already paid her.
He should be a good one. When Jackie hired me (thirty years ago); she had the number one Dane. The breeder is the same lady.
Yes, she called me last night.
Then you have all his information?
The HANDLER nods yes.
How did he travel with all those toys.
He peed on a few, but then he pees on everything. Aaron’s Santa.
Every dog in here has peed on that Santa.
I’m surprised Jackie still has a crate this size.
She does but it is full of coffee.
He does okay without a crate, but you gotta watch him; he will sleep on you. Literally.
CUT TO night, a FLASHBACK of this giant black DANE sharing a very small pullout bed with GELERT. The very large dog is using GELERT as a pillow. The DANE is a sound sleeper. GELERT moves to get up but the DANE will not budge. GELERT can’t yell at the DANE, in the middle of the night he will wake JACKIE up. GELERT needs to go to the bathroom. In the end, GELERT ends up wiggling out from under the DANE. Escaping the sleeping DANE takes more than a little effort. We hear a slight grunt from the dog but the DANE does not stir.
BACK to the convention center…
(to the Great Dane)
The HANDLER pets the GREAT DANE and takes the lead. He places the dog in a large crate that has been waiting for him. GELERT fires a certain look at the crate, as if he will miss the dog.
GELERT returns to JACKIE’s RV to exercise another dog.
INT. JACKIE ARGENTINA’s RV. – PARKING LOT – DAWN
JACKIE ARGENTINA is taking a shower in a very tiny area. Life on the road isn’t roses.
Inside her 31 foot custom “dog show” rig, there are 20 built in “Kustom Krates” securely and safely attached to the floor.
Inside the stainless steal “built-in” crates are a variety of small dogs – everything from a tiny Chihuahua to a Bichon Frise. They are all whimpering and some are barking for their turn to get out and pee.
GELERT enters the RV and selects the next dog – a CHINESE CRESTED. They leave the RV.
EXT. Convention Center – DAWN
The process is repeated. GELERT walks the CHINESE CRESTED down to the other Santa. The CHINESE CRESTED lifts his leg and pees on the Santa’s foot. The BLONDE GIRL has a Papillion, who is peeing on JACKIE’s Santa. The assistant handlers notice each other again and half wave again. It is something of a ritual.
GELERT walks the CHINESE CRESTED to the grass. The hairless dog lays his “mud bunny” on the lawn, and without much pain GELERT takes out a “Wal-Mart” bag and throws the dog “feces” in the trash. The trashcan there is now 1/4 full.
We see other handlers, who are beginning the day in much the same way.
INT. JACKIE ARGENTINA’s RV. – PARKING LOT – DAWN
JACKIE ARGENTINA is doing her makeup and getting dressed.
There is limited space, but there is an elaborate table for the makeup and several full-length mirrors. Inside the closet every inch of hanging space is taken by elegant but practical dresses. At the end of the space are some tiny dress pants and two shirts. We look at the shoes; there are 22 pair of women’s shows and one pair of men’s shoes.
Clearly, GELERT and JACKIE travel together, making a living by exhibiting dogs. They share this RV space amicably and we can see that they have a routine each morning.
We see a coffee maker on the RV’s kitchen counter.
GELERT returns to the RV. GELERT picks up a giant stainless steel cup of coffee. JACKIE has prepared coffee for him. He pulls out a flask and pours some whisky into it. The coffee cup has a cover to prevent spillage.
GELERT selects the next dog – a PUG. The dog pulls GELERT from the RV. GELERT has the coffee cup in one hand and the dog’s lead in the other.
EXT. Convention Center – DAWN
TITLE SEQUENCE BEGINS
Each morning, the process is repeated 20 times with different dogs. GELERT walks the PUG down to the other Santa. The PUG lifts his leg and pees on the AARON’s Santa. The BLONDE GIRL has a PHARAOH Hound, who is peeing on JACKIE’s Santa. The assistant handlers notice each other again and half wave again.
GELERT walks the PUG to the grass. The fat little dog leaves his “Lincoln Log”, and without too much displeasure GELERT takes out a “Wal-Mart” bag and throws the dog “feces” in the trash. The trashcan there is now 1/2 full.
We are learning that dealing with the toy dog’s waste is much easier than the GREAT DANE.
CUT TO a Japanese Chin relieving himself and GELERT throwing a plastic bag in the 3/4 full trash. He then leads the CHIN inside.
CUT TO GELERT and a Havanese in the grass…
CUT TO GELERT and a Pekingese…
CUT TO GELERT and a Pomeranian. GELERT then throws a plastic bag in the full trash can. He then leads the POM inside.
CUT TO GELERT and a small Yorkshire Terrier…
CUT TO GELERT and a 10 inch toy Xoloitzcuintli…
CUT TO GELERT and an Italian Greyhound. GELERT then throws a plastic bag in the full (overflowing) trash can. Plastic bags litter the ground around the trash can.
We see an immense amount of dog feces wrapped in plastic bags. There is probably 200 pounds of dog shit in the trash and another 75 pounds in plastic bags that are overflowing on the ground. Judging from the dog crap being produced, this isn’t just any old dog show. It is the king of Florida dog shows.
GELERT looks at the trash. He looks over his shoulder at the 100 or more RVs all lined up in the parking lot. Each RV has 20 or so dogs inside. GELERT looks back at the trash which was quickly filled. GELERT looks at his watch.
There are over 2000 dogs entered in the show and many of them handled by professional handlers like JACKIE. Most of them have assistants like GELERT. GELERT’s job isn’t glamorous and looking at his expression this early in the morning you wouldn’t know he loves his job. Later, of course, we learn that he DOES love his job.
GELERT then leads the Italian Greyhound inside the convention center.
TITLE SEQUENCE ENDS
A dog show is an event where dogs are exhibited. A conformation show, also referred to as a breed show, is a kind of dog show in which a judge, familiar with a specific dog breed, evaluates individual purebred dogs for how well the dogs conform to the established breed type for their breed, as described in a breed’s individual breed standard.
Such shows are useful to breeders as a means of evaluating dogs for breeding purposes. A conformation championship from a recognised national kennel club is generally considered a reasonably objective indication of merit, as it indicates that the dog has been found to be a superior example of its breed by a number of different judges on a number of separate occasions. Many breeders consider championship a prerequisite for breeding.
Conformation shows have been controversial, as critics argue that the shows encourage selective breeding of traits and lower genetic diversity, which reduces the health, happiness and longevity of the dogs.
The first modern conformation dog show was held in Newcastle Town Hall in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, in June 1859.
This handler prepares a Silky Terrier to be presented.
A conformation dog show is not a comparison of one dog to another but a comparison of each dog to a judge’s mental image of the ideal breed type as outlined in the individual breed’s breed standard. Dog show judges attempt to identify dogs who epitomise the published standards for each breed. This can be challenging, because some judgements must necessarily be subjective. As an example, what exactly entails a “full coat” or a “cheerful attitude,” descriptions found in breed standards, can only be learned through experience with the breed that has that particular requirement.
Judges are generally certified to judge one or several breeds, usually in the same group, but a few “all-breed” judges have the training and experience to judge large numbers of breeds.
Dogs compete at dog shows to earn points or certification towards championship titles.
The Kennel Club (UK) system, which is also used by the Australian National Kennel Council and in other countries, is considered the most difficult to earn a title under.
Fédération Cynologique Internationale sponsors international shows that differ from other shows in that dogs first receive individual written descriptions of positive and negative qualities from the judge, and only dogs with high ratings go on to compete against other dogs in the class. A dog must receive four international Certificat d’Aptitude au Championnat International de Beauté (CACIB) to qualify for a Championship; one must be won in the dog’s own country, and at least two in other countries under at least three different judges.
Originally posted 2022-01-19 08:12:50.