You might be interested to know: She wasn't always my top #1 pick. She simply blossomed into it over time. She started out ranking #3, my beloved little "middle child" of the bunch, but by 9 weeks I had a sneaky suspicion that there could be something more to her. By 3 months, I pretty much knew she had surpassed the others. However, as far as the show table goes, she is nothing special... YET. I know her lines, and I think I can anticipate how she will play the books. Nothing special... until 6 months. She has those late bloomer genes that I'm going to see poof out in a stunning 6 month old coat type... hopefully. Until then, patience will ensue. She has had the easiest coat care in the entire litter-something that I very much take note of and grade carefully by. She is terribly special. Plus I'm delighted with her color. High rufus. Bright beautiful color bands--YES PLEASE!!! Her wool spun into yarn someday will make me the happiest of spinners!!!
To get right to the point:
Bungalow's Jubilee has been retired from the show world before achieving her grand-championship.
Now before you get all over me, there is a long story behind it all.
About 2 weeks ago she stopped eating and drinking. If you know Angoras, this is uber scary. Usually you have a 24hr "crisis" period to catch these kinds of problems within enough time. I pay close attention to all mine, always watching for the slightest signs of them going off food. When they stop eating or drinking, their gut system can shut down and go into what is called gastric stasis, which basically is a gastrointestinal imbalance which causes the GI tract to shut down. Gastric Stasis is a result; not a cause, of something else that is bothering the rabbit. It can be stress, it could be an infection, it could be pain, it could be noise, sometimes you never know. Usually you can pinpoint the problem, but in this case, I couldn't.
All I knew is Jubilee just stopped eating. Off came that gorgeous coat. And then, after a week of me fighting it, and then her not giving up and not losing weight, and a lot of prayer, she started up again. Eating, drinking, pooping, etc.
To this day, No one knows what it was. What is even weirder is, I, her breeder who has raised her her entire life, I who know her inside out, have no idea why or what or how or.... just nothing. No clue what caused it. She is as healthy now as she was before it started. Possibly even more so since she pulled through and remained extremely strong. She is practically a miracle rabbit.
And that is why, Jubilee is no longer in coat. She happily has been returned to her cage in the bunny barn, cheerfully munching her food down. After a nerve wracking week of thinking I could be losing her, I'm so glad she is still here.
Instead of being upset about losing a grand-championship, I can be so thankful I still have my precious doe with me. She is easily the best Angora I've ever put my own hands on. I don't say that lightly. She is of rare caliber. Her future babies someday down the road will be just like her. I'm not saying I'm not still slightly heartbroken about losing her coat in her prime. I went to a show last weekend with all my Juniors, and it was sad that my beautiful Sr doe wasn't representing the whites.
I'm choosing not to give up on her grand-championship just yet. She is of the rare quality that I'm contemplating growing her back out, giving a 2nd coat a debut at the tables. You can't always do that with every angora. Some folks say you can't do it, I know it CAN be done, just with an outstanding animal. And Jubilee is that. So... for now, she is "retired". But for later.... she will rise.
And as I've been contemplating showing.... and choices, and breeding, and decisions, here are some thoughts that come to mind.
Showing isn't about winning. It is amazing to win, but it really isn't about winning. There are people in the rabbit world that do show just for the ribbon or the acknowledgement. To me, Showing is simply a means of helping YOU to know the level of quality you are dealing with, and how you can choose to make wiser choices in the future, and gives you more insight on where and how you need to improve.
I don't show for the ribbons. I don't show for the acknowledgement. I show because I'm working at producing some of the highest quality Angoras I can. Showing to me means placing your rabbit under someone else's more deft and knowing hands to get their opinion on your production. I show to achieve a better product. The product is this case being wool production. Yes yes, the rabbits are lovely. But I recognize that the breed I've chosen has a purpose, and to be preserved and enjoyed for generations to come, quality is so very important.
To me, Quality is more than a few fancy letters before or after a name. Quality is built by choosing to make hard choices and standing by them even when it means doing the hard things. And if you think hard things don't happen, trust me, they do. Most every month I have more hard decisions about how to move forward with my program.
Those hard decisions make this even more beautiful. Because when you work really hard at working towards achieving something, imagine how wonderful it is to know you accomplished it! And I know that with my sweet Jubilee. No, no fancy GCH letters by her name, as far as most people might judge her, nothing special. She did manage several BOBs, many BOVs, and stunned me with a 6 month old BIS (best in show). I'm blessed.
For example: When I got my first English Angoras, I was sold some poor quality ones. I was new, inexperienced, and didn't know what I should or shouldn't buy. Genes were a mess, Pedigrees a wreck, and the actual animals lacking certain qualities that were too important to get away with. I was excited, I went to my first show. And I was promptly devastated. Now, one of my dearest friends, Margaret Bartold, kindly took the time in world to go through my pedigree book, over my animals, and explain to me what I had done wrong. Gently, she told me I needed to start over. Hundreds of dollars and hours in, I listened. Back to square one. One of the biggest teachable moments in my life, easily one of the hardest decisions I've ever made.
I can honestly say, I don't regret it for a second.
Some people/breeders I've met probably would call me gullible. Hah! I'll take that. I don't think I'm gullible to make one of the hardest decisions of my life because someone was willing to have the gumption to tell me I'd made a mistake. I don't envy Margaret's job that day, it took guts to say what she did.
I know I made the right decision, hands down, no doubt about it. No questions in my mind, I'd do it over again. I wouldn't be where I am now, if I hadn't have listened.
That is another lesson I've learned. Be Open Minded. Don't be another close minded breeder who knows it all so well that they can't be happy others win or unable to take critique. Every single time you put your animal on that showtable, or in that judging ring, you are placing yourself under someone else's expertise. Their opinions, from judge to judge, will differ. Not simply because of inconsistency, but because people are different, certain judges value certain traits higher than others. Be willing to take whatever judges have to say.
I've learned how to take critique with grains of salt, so to speak. This comes by learning. I have learned to know when a judge is slightly off in an assessment, maybe the coat is still coming in, when evaluating babies I usually bring a shaker full of salt with me. I'm not saying to be a push over, you as a breeder need to know why you would or wouldn't agree with that judge. Sometimes at the end of the day, I don't agree, but I was still willing to listen, and thank them for their opinion.
Quality is built by choosing to make hard choices and standing by them even when it means doing the hard things.
Thanks for stopping by! Hopefully another update will be made soon!