GP, NW Bordeaux LTD's Enzo Purrari
Published January 2013
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At the close of the 2012 show season, a breed milestone was reached in Ragdolls when a stunning seal point and white neutered male became the first Ragdoll to become a national winner since the breed was first accepted for championship status in CFA on May 1st , 2000.
This is the story of a breeder who entrusted a kitten into the care of a newcomer to cat showing...
This is the story of man who was new to showing, but he loved his kitten and wanted to do the best by him...
This is the story of a kitten who would grow into a cat who would be a breed pioneer...
It was early summer 2010 in balmy Florida. Liz Thurman of Bordeaux LTD Ragdolls was watching over her Ragdoll queen, Matty, as she gave birth. The delivery went well and Liz smiled as she settled the happy momma cat and her five chunky babies in their nesting box.
At that moment, Liz had no idea she was looking at a future history-making Ragdoll...
A Winning Lineage
The kittens were from show winning bloodlines, so Liz did expect there to be show babies in the litter.
Their father, CFA CH Sandollrags Walker of Bordeaux LTD, produced six cats that granded in CFA. The kitten's mom, GC Bordeaux LTD's R-U-Ready Made (Matty), and her littermates, GC Bordeaux LTD's R-U-Rowdy and GP Bordeaux LTD's R-U-Macon Biscuits had all granded in CFA.
What would the future hold for these little ones?
Sire: CH, Sandollrags Walker of Bordeaux LTD (left) Dam: GC, R-U Ready Made of Bordeaux LTD. (right)
Photos by L. Johnson (left) Jim Child (right)
While Liz was in Florida watching Matty's litter taking their first steps, in Ohio, a man named Jim Flanik had lost his cat of 15 years. When he realized it was time to get another kitty, he went on the CFA website looking at various breeds. He decided on a Ragdoll.
He first looked for a Ragdoll kitten locally. No luck. Next he tried a breeder farther afield, but she has no babies available. Then Jim contacted Liz in Florida — pay dirt! He explained that he was looking for a pet kitten and could offer it a great home life.
Liz suggested he attend a cat show that was coming up near him in Medina, Ohio.
Jim followed her advice, and after attending the show and admiring a GP Ragdoll being shown, Jim decided he wanted a show alter and not just a pet.
Liz was always very choosy about with whom she placed her show kittens. Her first priority was that the kitten have a wonderful home. Jim certainly qualified. It was always a gamble to place a show kitten in a "possible" show home, though. She knew that few "newbies" really follow through and actually show their "show kittens". But she sensed that there was something special about Jim. She knew he would offer a wonderful home, regardless of whether he ever showed. She decided to take a gamble. In a leap of faith, Liz let Jim have the pick of the litter.
The seal bicolor kitten was gorgeous - and because he would leap into her arms, Liz thought this was a good indication of the type of temperament that would make a good show cat.
The kitten was 11 weeks old when he was flown in cabin to Ohio by a pet transport service. Jim was waiting at the airport gate to meet his new family member.
Of course, the kitten needed a name. Jim loves race cars. Playing on the name of famed car designer, Enzo Ferrari, Jim named the kitten Enzo Purrari.
Enzo and Jim quickly bonded. As the weeks went by, they were ready for the show ring. Of course, showing was a new adventure for both of them. Jim had to learn to show groom a Ragdoll. With Liz's tutoring, Jim turned out to be a talented student and was soon receiving compliments from other exhibitors. Still, Enzo didn't make a single final for the first two months of his kitten career, which is pretty typical for a Ragdoll youngster. Philosophically, Jim realized that you cannot final in every ring, and it was clear that Enzo enjoyed all the attention while on the judging table.
What a talented kitten! Enzo practicing his "High 5"
Photos by Chanan
A Judge's Encouragement
It wasn't until Enzo turned eight months old that he began to blossom into a new maturity. Judge's started to really take notice of him. Now officially an adult in the Premiership class, Enzo and Jim traveled to a show in North Carolina for winner's ribbons. Liz drove up from Florida with the cat she was showing. It was a family reunion and Enzo finaled in several rings.
Enzo then attended another two shows and became a Grand.
Gaining momentum, during the last two and a half months of the 2010-1011 show season, Enzo earned enough points to be the 23rd Best Cat in Premiership in the Great Lakes Region. Enzo was an RW!
At the Regional Awards banquet to receive his trophy in June 2011, a judge who had admired Enzo as a young adult suggested to Jim that he consider campaigning Enzo for a national win — and that started what was to be an almost life-threatening run for the proverbial roses.
Jim thought it over, discussed it with Liz, and the decision was made. They would see if Enzo could add the elusive NW to his name, something that no Ragdoll had yet been able to accomplish in CFA.
It Ain't Easy
Campaigning a Ragdoll in CFA isn't easy simply because the breed is still relatively new to CFA and CFA judges. Bicolor and van Ragdolls were first accepted for Championship status in CFA in May 2000. It took another 8 years before CFA granted full status to Mitted & Colorpoint Ragdolls.
Being a minority breed, it isn't easy for a Ragdoll to get noticed in the finals. It can get lost amongst all the traditional breeds — the fluffy Persians and slinky cats, hairless Sphynx and tail-less Manx, beefy Maine Coons and flat-faced Exotics. Jim and Enzo would need stamina, smarts and a splash of courage to take on the lofty goal of a national win amongst daunting competition.
The Purrari Team
Every show cat needs a team, especially for a national campaign — and even more so if it's your first campaign. Fortunately, Jim and Enzo had an exceptional team.
Liz Thurman was Enzo's breeder and Jim's coach, mentor and best friend who had the faith to entrust Enzo to Jim in the beginning, the skill to teach him show grooming, and the enthusiasm to cheer him along when the path got bumpy.
Camelle & Joel Chaney, of Dewisplear Maine Coons, were Enzo's second family, travel partners and the people who could be relied on in any emergency.
Enzo High Fives His Judges
Being a playful, laid back, and very cool Ragdoll, Enzo would occasionally "high five" a judge — except his idea of “high five” was more of a paw swipe from right to left. More than one judge was taken by surprise by this antic. Spectators loved it but it always make Jim slightly nervous. He worried that someone might think Enzo was trying to swat at the judge.
The Turning Point
It was hard placing consistently in the finals at the big shows. At the huge Garden State cat show in July, Enzo had made only a few finals. Three months into the show season and it was hard not to feel discouraged. That was when a judge looked at Jim and said,
" Look, if you make a final here you have really accomplished something ".
That was the turning point for Jim. With a new outlook and a never give up attitude, Jim and Enzo hit the campaign trail with new enthusiasm.
The older Enzo got, the better he got. He was maturing. He filled out more. His coat was magnificent. Not surprisingly, he was developing a following of judges who loved and appreciated him. The finals started adding up. Gaining more momentum, Enzo nudged his way up in the national standings. By the beginning of February 2012, Enzo was #9 in Premiership nationally and for the first time an NW really seemed within reach.
Enzo cat-napping on his grooming table at the National Capitol show
It was mid-February in the Northeast. Cold. Difficult road conditions. Jim and Enzo had been campaigning hard almost every weekend since May. It was Sunday night and they were driving home from a show in Kimberton, PA when the unthinkable happened. Jim dozed off while behind the wheel. His car crashed into two concrete abutments at the end
of a tunnel on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
Jim was knocked out by the initial impact. When he regained consciousness, he realized that his car was up against the guard rail. His first thought was to check on Enzo who traveled in his carrier on the front seat. Jim was horrified to see that Enzo's carrier had a gaping hole in the top. And the windows on that side of the car were broken out.
Enzo was gone!
Jim blacked out again.
When he came to the second time, a maintenance worker and state trooper were standing by the automobile calling for medical assistance. Incredibly, Enzo, was sitting in the back window of the car. The maintenance man took Enzo in his arms and reassured Jim he would take care of him. Jim meanwhile was air-lifted to a trauma center to undergo emergency surgery.
Liz and Jim's son were notified. Liz called Joel Chaney of Dewisplear Maine Coons. It was 9pm on a cold winter night in Ohio but Joel leaped in his car and drove five hours to pick up Enzo and then check on Jim at the hospital. When Jim came out of surgery, Joel was standing at the foot of his bed. His first words to Jim were, " Enzo is okay! "
That's all Jim needed to know.
Joel and his wife, Camelle, took Enzo to the vet the next morning to have him examined and x-rayed. Other than a deep bruise, he was fine. Jim, on the other hand, would need to remain in the hospital for another week.
Back On The Trail
The shows went on without Jim and Enzo for three weeks while Jim recovered. Enzo lost a couple placements in the national rankings, dropping to #11.
Although Jim was still not 100%, he was eager to get back out on the hunt. The shows were beckoning... and the clock was ticking. There were only 7 weeks left until the end of the season. But Jim was concerned about Enzo's traumatic experience in the car. Would his beautiful Ragdoll even want to even get into a vehicle again? Jim needn't have worried. Enzo was a real trooper, traveling better than ever, so they returned to the shows, albeit with a little catching up to do.
“ If you want to be the best you have to beat the best ” was their motto. They hit all the big shows, weekend after weekend.
The Final Statistics
Enzo finished the last two months of the show season in spectacular fashion. In March and April he made 33 Finals, 25 of them in the top five, and all 33 counted towards his top 100 rings.
While competing at the biggest shows in the country, against an outstanding class of campaigning Grand Premiers, Enzo was #10 in Premiership. Enzo was a national winner!
In the course of the campaign, Enzo and Jim had attended 48 shows, while traveling over 25,000 miles through 15 states and Canada. Enzo finaled 242 times and earned 12 Best Cats in the journey to his national win.
photo by Chanan
A History Maker For His Breed
And so it was that history was made. Twelve years after the Ragdoll breed was accepted for championship status to CFA — GP, NW, Bordeaux LTD's Enzo Purrari became the first Ragdoll to earn the title of National Winner.
Enzo is over two years of age. He looks even better than he did during his national campaign. Although he is officially retired from showing, that doesn't mean he is resting on his laurels. Not at all. Enzo still accompanies Jim to the shows as a CFA Iams Ambassador Cat.
Regardless of how many Ragdolls eventually earn the NW title in the future, Enzo will always be the first. He is a Ragdoll history-maker.
GP, NW Bordeaux LTD's Carroll Shelby
In in 2012-2013, Jim campaigned a second Ragdoll, GP NW Bordeaux LTD's Carroll Shelby (named after another famed car designer) to CFA's14th Best Cat in Premiership. Carrol joins his "room-mate" Enzo in an exclusive club of national-winning Ragdolls in CFA. Both national winniers were bred by Liz Thurman and owned and campaigned by Jim Flanik.
photo by Audra
Below are photos taken during the show career of
GP, NW Bordeaux LTD's Enzo Purrari
Seal Point and White Ragdoll Neuter
CFA's 10th Best Cat in Premiership 2012
CFA Great Lakes Region 3rd Best Cat in Premiership 2012
The First Ragdoll National Winner in CFA History
Born: June 8, 2010
Sire: CH Sandollrags Walker of Bordeaux LTD
Dam: GC Bordeaux LTD's R-U Ready Made
Breeder: Elizabeth Thurman
Owner: Jim Flanik
Enzo as a kitten
photo by Chanan
photo by Chanan
photo by Chanan
photo by Chanan
photo by Chanan
photo by Chanan
Enzo with a few of his ribbons & rosettes
Enzo poses besides the ice sculpture of himself at the Great Lakes Awards Banquet.
Enzo poses between giant cat statues at the CFA
in Alliance, Ohio
Photos at the top and bottom of this page are by Chanan