Monday, January 26, 2009

Gerbil Show?

Yes, gerbil show. This past weekend I attended the 8th Annual World of Pets Expo in Timonium, Maryland. The American Gerbil Society, of which I am a member, was one of the exhibiting groups and held a sanctioned gerbil show on Saturday. For those of you who don't know--almost all of you, I'm guessing--a gerbil show is run in similar fashion to a dog or cat show. The gerbils are divided into various categories, most of which are determined by colors/markings. They are then scrutinized by trained judges who evaluate body condition, temperament, and how well they adhere to the standards of the class. The winner of each class is a candidate for the Best in Show prize.

Judge Kelly Johnson of Wisconsin working on the "Other" class

The show tables

This was my first time attending a gerbil show, which I'm sure was more than obvious to all of the seasoned pros in attendance, but everyone was very nice and helpful. I entered the maximum number of gerbils I could because, whether your gerbil placed or not, every entrant got a very nice comment card from the judge detailing the gerbil's strengths and weaknesses. The whole experience was very educational.

Judge Judi Poirier sits by the blue-ribbon females during the long wait for the Best in Show decision

I had a lot of fun talking to the Expo attendees--answering a lot of questions about gerbils and correcting a few misconceptions, most of which began with, "Look at the rats!" The children were the most fun to talk to. I had to snap a picture of this one cutie in particular as she peeped in on the pups I had brought with me.

I was proud of my little gerbil clan. They got second and third place ribbons in the pup class (the fact that my pups made up nearly the whole group only dims my happiness slightly). My big granddaddy, Jet, took third in the senior class. His sweet wife, Wren (bred by Rebecca Ward), captured a blue ribbon in the spotted class. Their lovely daughter, Violet, took a blue ribbon in the pied class as well as winning the People's Choice award for favorite gerbil in the show.

Pretty Violet--photo by Lorien

Saturday, January 17, 2009


Life is certainly full of surprises. Some of them take a little more adjusting to than others. Finding myself expecting a third child at this point in my life was not only unexpected, it was almost impossible to wrap my head around. So it's amazing to me that this little grainy image would have the power to instantly erase so many of my fears along with my disbelief. Okay, it wasn't just the image, it was the sight of a tiny little beating heart that did it. Because more than anything else, a beating heart means life. So many people debate when life begins and yet we have no trouble determining when it ends. It ends when the heart stops. And so, even somewhat reluctant parents like my husband and I melt in the presence of that little heartbeat, knowing that whatever scientists or politicians might have to say about it, that tiny creature is already a living being and our child. Oh my.