Charo trains like an athlete. She jogs and swims, and, said Bauman, "She's my best friend." Unfortunately, Bauman also said, Charo was upset and nervous. Sure enough, in the directed jump on the first day, Charo anticipated her command and was hit with a low score of 176.5, which meant she was pretty much out of the competition. "This is an unforgiving sport," said the judge, Samuel Gardner, an engineer from Lakeland, Fla. who's also interested in the training of dolphins. "It's a shame, too, because that's a very beautiful dog."
"Oh, well," said Bauman. "Every dog will have an off day." Charo's other scores that day were 199.5, 198.5 and 199.5, and on Sunday, she scored 199s in open and utility, but the best she could do was finish 10th.
Dana performed beautifully on Saturday, averaging 197.625, but right behind her at 197.375 was an underdog named Missy.
Missy, trained by Bonnie McCaleb of Edina, Minn., is a 5-year-old Shetland Sheepdog, and a tiny Sheltie at that. "She's 10 pounds of dynamite," said McCaleb. "I was taking a shower in the motel, and when I came out, Missy had turned down the covers of the bed, put all the pillows in the center of the bed and was lying in the middle of them."
On Sunday, Dana was nearly flawless, and her 198.5 in the open exercise meant that Missy would have to score an impossible 200.5 to beat her. McCaleb congratulated Armbruster, and Missy seemed to congratulate Dana. In the midst of all the happiness, a border collie walked by with a FOR SALE, CHEAP sign draped over him.
On Sunday evening, Dana and Armbruster were given the Silver Dumbbell, and balloons went up as the speaker blared the theme from Rocky. Afterward, Dana played with a chewed-up tennis ball, and Armbruster told her, "Good girl, good girl."