On The Front Page of My Heart
Gainey’s Story

“Ladies and Gentlemen!”, the announcer shouted on the microphone over the increasing din of the Banquet. “…May I present to you…Grand Premier, National Winner, Jim-An-Di Gainsborough!”  Suddenly it all felt so surreal!  My heart raced as we began that slow walk to the podium.  This was Gainey’s moment and we were there because of him. He had brought us (my husband, Earle and I) to this place at this time – just as he had taken us places from the very beginning. “Focus!” My brain shouted as my feet edged forward and my mind slipped down memory lane…

Gainey was compelling from the very start and I instinctively knew that he was different. He was blue…dark blue to be precise! He had incredibly deep blue points that provided beautiful contrast to his body. And that color was paired with ears that could not be ignored! Little did I know that his color, those ears and their “set” would be points of discussion and debate throughout his journey!  I knew we were going to show him …he was too “unique” to not be shown! He was still a kitten, but it took only a couple rings for us to realize that we had a potentially great show cat – both in terms of type and disposition. But even then, I didn’t know that we were about to embark on the ultimate show adventure – the search for a National Win!

But perhaps I should have known…or at least guessed! He came from Dianne-Bruce Alexy – one of the foremost catteries in the Siamese world. His Sire GC, Alexy Keeper is a highly “sought after” cat for breeding programs and Gainey (like his sire) is considered to be very “Typey” – an asset for many breeding programs as I would later learn.  And as we travelled, his pedigree and type sparked great interest in the breed. From coast to coast, most Siamese breeders, exhibitors and spectators were fascinated by his looks and implicitly approved of his rise in the standings. At times, that passive “approval” turned into active support and we unexpectedly became ambassadors for the breed!

And yet, it wasn’t all “peaches and cream”! Some of Gainey’s most striking attributes were also the source of philosophical debate – and as he developed, his features challenged some judges!  At times it was almost as if he was “pushing the envelope”. Some thought he was “extreme” and that those ears were either “too low set” or “too large”! Others thought that the breed should be “a study in extreme” while some thought that he had all the “type” expected of a Siamese…the fine boning and fine muzzle, the long legs, the deep points, the well-defined wedge, the deep blue almond eyes etc. He came before judges with vastly different views and vastly different renderings and stimulated discussion of the breed. 

We are relative newcomers to showing, and early in Gainey’s show life, I wanted to understand the emerging pattern of his performance. My intuition had sensed a pattern, but that was not enough. Being an IT and numbers nerd, I quickly turned to the data…and the data never lies! From his very first show throughout this entire journey, I gathered data, analyzed his performance and tracked his overall progress. Our campaign was indeed “data-driven” and it was all there for the taking. This wealth of information helped to inform us as we made decisions about which shows to attend; it helped to temper our expectations so that they were more grounded in reality – not in fantasy or wishful thinking; it enabled us to set realistic goals for individual shows as well as for the overall season and it ultimately supported the belief that Gainey could successfully achieve a National Win. 

The data was good! But the insights were better! And those came from a group of experienced Breeders (with a capital B!) who had our backs throughout this entire journey! They were the people to whom I turned to understand and confirm what the facts were telling me; to provide the insights and the know-how and to develop a strategy to move forward.  They were and are my core support – powerful in their knowledge; formidable in their breeding skills and wise in their understanding of the CFA.  They lifted me up when my vision was clouded by tears.  They knew the joy and the pain that this journey would bring - and their support never once wavered! They have names like Dianne, Virginia, Susan and Betsy…They know who they are…and we are lucky to have them as friends!

Throughout it all, Gainey was front and center. He was 7 months when we first saw him and was already neutered. His path lay in Premiership and we were still learning to show. He was small for a male and very fine boned and we suspected that he would be a late developer. We watched him carefully and tended to his diet. He seemed to grow in spurts which consumed all the calories we could give him! We could barely keep up and initially, he was always on the verge of being too skinny!  I was desperate to keep his weight up and sought advice from Dianne and from a few judges who were receptive to newcomers. We switched his diet to raw and he finally began to develop great muscle!

And as he grew, he took my breath away! He was a showman in the ring!  I remember being so happy and relaxed at show knowing that I would be highly entertained by Gainey when he got into the ring! I had not experienced that before and had always been somewhat stressed when I had shown for part of the previous season. He would “kiss” his detractors and invariably turn them around…he would slowly wear them down! As a show cat, he was fascinating in the ring and word rapidly spread about his performance. And he remained consistent until the last 2 months of the season when he and many other cats began to tire. It’s a long haul to get a National Win and he had travelled many a mile! From coast to coast and everywhere in between! By car, by plane and even by train! He had “his wings” from Delta and constantly delighted flight staff and airport officials. He was and is a charmer!

And when it was all said and done, I looked back at his accomplishments over the year culminating in his National Win and was somewhat startled! He had earned more points than any other Siamese in all classes in Regions 1 – 9. Globally within our breed, only his Championship cousin from China had earned a few more points.  But Gainey was the only Siamese in the 2017-1018 season to earn a National Win. He did it! And for that he will always reside on the front page of my heart!

Gainey with judge Annette Wilson at the
2018 International Show

Back to Grands page