How is it that I'm in such a happy, giddy mood, in the midst of this dog show craziness? The big Rose City Classic is in less than two weeks. It opens with "Specialty" shows on a Wednesday, meaning individual breed clubs hold their owns shows that are kind of a fun celebration of their breeds. Then the regular all-breed shows start on a Thursday and run through Sunday.
This is hardly a "regular" dog show, though. We have over 3,300 dogs entered by the time we get to the weekend. That's HUGE. Yes, and as someone pointed out to me the other day: That's a lot of dog poop.
I think our "cluster," meaning a group of back-to-back shows that cover more than a 2-day weekend, is still considered the largest indoor dog show west of the Mississippi. (I still think it's funny that we use the Mississippi River as a dividing line when we determine how big something is.)
In a weak moment I was convinced to say "Yes" to being the Show Chairman for our kennel club for 2012 and 2013. It's a 4-day show and we have two of the days, and the other club has the other two. However, what makes this cluster unique, and one of the many things that gets us compliments, is that the two clubs get along well and work to make the 4 days seamless so outside of seeing a different kennel club's name attached to the show information, if you're there, it's pretty darn hard to know the difference from day-to-day. That is often not the case when clusters are produced. It can get very territorial, which seems stupid, but it happens more often than not. Thankfully, our two clubs don't work that way, and we've reaped the benefits of that. The cluster has a fabulous reputation and it's considered one of the top series of dog shows in the U.S.
I think part of the reason we get along is out of necessity because this behemoth is just way too much to handle on your own, and we really need each other to pull this off. When you're putting over 3,300 dogs in a facility that has over 330,000 square feet, and mix in the 2-legged entourages that come with the dogs, it's a matter of survival that you get along. (The 2-legged are the tough ones to handle. The 4-legged ones are easy to deal with.)
With this being my first year as a Show Chair, at times I've felt moments of panic, thinking, "What in the world am I doing?" Thankfully I have a fabulous Show Chair with the other club, who is the lead of the cluster. Mary is the Obi-Wan Kenobi to my floundering Luke Skywalker. I don't know where I would be without her. When you look up the definition of "Grace under pressure" you will find Mary's picture. She's been a teacher, mentor, counselor, ship captain, and a true friend in this last year.
Today as she has been working on the judge overloads, which is what happens when you get an overwhelming number of entries, far beyond what you thought, and you find that your judges now have way more dogs than they're allowed to judge in a day (the limit is 175) so you're then scrambling to hire a few extra judges, I've been working on NEXT year's show with my new partner from their club, John. We all commit to the job for two years, but we stagger when you're a "newbie" so I'll be the veteran for 2013 and John will be the new guy.
As I've dealt with questions from Mary today on this year's show and worked on getting things in order for what's ahead in two weeks, John and I were discussing judges and plans for a year from now. It hit me that in the midst of all of this, I'm loving it! I'm a little shocked because this show has caused plenty of stress in the last year and I've even had moments of resenting how much time it's taken....time when I passed up things with my family, etc., to work on dog show "stuff." But I've made a commitment so I've sucked it up and said, "Get over it!" But today, I'm feeling this giddy happiness. I think part of it is the fear of the unknown is over. I feel comfortable with what it takes to pull this off now.
Secondly, I know it's the core of why I do all of this: I just love dogs. Period. They say most people who step into the dog show world drop out quickly and never make it to even 5 years. If you make it past that point, it's believed you have what it takes to handle it. It's not an easy "hobby," although I think it's not a hobby so much as it's part of your life. It takes a lot of sacrifices and you face a lot of heartbreak and disappointment.
But I still feel the benefits out-weigh the tough times. I have 5 of those benefits snoozing at various locations in the living room at this moment.
It's going to be a fun, crazy, tiring, but rewarding 2 weeks.
With a lot of dog poop.
But that's okay. I can't wait.