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Author Liz O'Connor (UK Renza Afghans)

Our first day at MyWay gave us the opportunity to meet all of Ali's relatives, 12 in all, his mother, brother, two sisters, one half brother, two half sisters, two uncles, one aunt, one great aunt and her daughter. Instantly recognisable as a family, there were black & tans, b/m reds, b/m golds, s/m reds, s/m golds, all colours very much at home over there and over here. Despite my obvious bias, I didn't see anything alien to/from British stock.

David and MaryAnn were truly wonderful hosts. They are both from Italian/American backgrounds and need l say more when ltell you MaryAnn was the most wonderful cook- and we love ltalian cuisine! However, for our first evening we were taken out to dinner in their local, highly recommended, restaurant in Clinton. Here we were introduced to the American's wish to please. We were spoiled here (as elsewhere) with their excellent service (a far cry from Britain, where often you feel everything is too much trouble). Everywhere we went, iced water was first on the table while you chose from the menu, and you could choose anything, in any combination, cooked in any way you pleased. Side salads were a meal in themselves, served with whatever dressing you wanted. Meals were hot. beautifully presented, and enormous! But there was always the "doggy bag", and how the MyWay's tribe loved us for that!!

The next day we started the day at the local "bar" having breakfast (no alcohol I hasten to add!) this is no place to watch your weight because again the menu was varied and big meals were served - and we were still getting used to all this service!

From there we went back to MyWay to work on dogs, and I was more than happy to help with bathing and grooming in readiness for the busy show days ahead - it gave me the opportunity to compare preparation on both sides of the Atlantic. It will probably come as a shock to know there was not one pair of electric clippers in sight, the tools they use are much the same as seen here, i.e. antistatic sprays, pin brushes, bristle brushes, large powerful dryers, snoods, etc. etc. What I did discover was that in the USA they have the most extensive range of coat preparations I have ever seen - shampoos, conditioners, sprays, for every imaginable type of coat. As one exhibitor said to me, no- one has any excuse for a dog not being perfectly prepared for the show ring, whatever type of coat it possesses.

Mail order catalogues abound for everything canine: you can order ANYTHING, from fancy dress outfits (I kid you not!) to veterinary preparations, even Ubooster shotsr are available for you to administer yourself, and most owners do. I couldn't help thinking our vets get away with an awful lot, charging high prices for even the most simple medications and then adding exorbitant consultation fees, only to confirm what you know already. Not so in the USA!

Back to the bathing and grooming. I helped prepare 7 dogs, and each dog had ears cleaned, teeth descaled (if necessary) and toe nails clipped (if needed) and this is done every bathtime and yes, they object to all this, just like British Afghans! We also helped MaryAnn prepare the stock for her booth at the National. Her jewellery is spectacular: gold, silver, enamel, in earrings, bracelets, necklaces, chokers, tie pins, cuff-links, brooches, pendants; add to this her paintings and design prints, plus a huge selection of Christmas cards and celebration cards, all in her own design - and it is all very very popular, but she has worked tremendously hard

On Sunday 2nd October I was assigned to judge for the LeHigh Valley Association, and David and MaryAnn planned "Coffee and Desserts" afterwards, inviting a large party back to their home, so we could all meet and talk "Afghans" in a relaxed atmosphere. The day before MaryAnn and I visited a locai market, run by Dutch Pennsylvanians, to buy in food for the week-end. This place was something else! It was made up of various Ushopsn, each selling breads, cakes, desserts, cookies (sweets), cold meats, poultry, etc. The bread section alone sold over 100 different varieties - banana, strawberry, treacle bread, flour bread, crusty bread, sliced white, sliced brown....Then there were the cookies, with sweets as far as the eye could see upwards - there must have been hundreds to choose from!!

MaryAnn also made some desserts, and one thing we did learn was that the Italian version of "Death by Chocolate~ is not like the gateaux you can buy here - far from it! Their version is SIX (Yes SIX) layers of chocolate - chocolate biscuit (base), chocolate cheesecake, chocolate cream, chocolate sponge, chocolate yoghurt, whipped chocolate topping...!!


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