Friday, June 11, 2010

The Best-Laid Plans

2nd Annual NE Regional Specialty, Wrentham, MA, 6/5/10
Supported Entry, Framingham District KC Show, 6/6/10
10 GRCH points

Sometimes, in spite of all the careful planning, negotiating, communicating, and coordination involved in putting on a show, the best-laid plans can... actually work out.

I don’t mind sharing that I had been dreading the Regional Specialty this year. I’d been appointed show chair at a meeting where I wasn’t even present, and from then on I never quite felt that I had the details under control. When you’re coordinating two events at two shows two states away and trying to coordinate between two regional clubs and two all-breed clubs, things can get a little hairy – even by Bearded Collie standards of hairiness. They get hairier still when you’re a Show Chair Newbie.

The signs weren’t looking so good. Beardies ended up being scheduled at 3 PM on Saturday and 2 PM on Sunday – so much for the idea of showing in the morning and then enjoying a leisurely lunch afterward. Our club treasurer ended up having back surgery. A week or so before the show, the sub shop where we’d bought last year’s sandwiches was struck by lightning. A day or so before the show, the weather forecast changed from sunny and high 70s to a tornado watch. The night before the show, the skies opened, accompanied by thunderboomers. You never want to ask the question “What else could go wrong?” – but the temptation to do so anyway is hard to resist.

At least my own anxieties never made it into the premium list. Beardie folks entered the show, some from as far away as Toronto, Charlotte... and even Oregon! Our Sweeps judge was our friend Ann Lord from New Brunswick. We ended up fielding a small but respectable number of entries for sweeps and veteran sweeps, and enough class entries in the regular show to offer a 5-point major in dogs and 4 points in bitches. Trophies? Check. Food? Check. Raffle? Check. Hospitality tent? Check. Tables and chairs? Check. Judge’s gift for Ann? Check. Checks? Check.

On show day, the intrepid show crew appeared, set up the tables and spread out the buffet, the raffle items, the grooming tables, the crates, and all of the other paraphernalia associated with dog shows. Since our part of the entertainment didn’t start until 3 PM, we were able to assemble the party at our leisure, greet our friends as they arrived, groom our dogs, and even do a little shopping. We held a raffle, and Ann managed to win a bunch of the items – so she definitely didn’t leave the show empty-handed.

Sweeps judge Ann Lord goes over a puppy boy shown by Amy Alspaugh Penuel.

Dog shows are social occasions for the Beardies, too. Our dogs got to greet their friends, meet new acquaintances, and mark their territory. Dinah was particularly thrilled to have so many good-looking guys around to flirt with – not only her sweetheart Traveler and his son Brae, but she also took a particular liking to Fuzzy from PA.

Shameless plug: outfitted us with a very generous supply of their eco-conscious doggie bags as well as several samples of their green trash bags. The trash bags came in mighty handy both for regular old trash and for bottle and can recycling. I had expected people to remark more on the doggie bags, but folks seemed even more interested in the green trash bags – so it was helpful to have samples of both products. I’m glad to report that we sustained no doggie-bag emergencies, but it was comforting to know that we had the tools at the ready if they were ever needed. We will also have plenty left over for the club’s annual Bounce and BBQ in July. Thanks,!

Our Green Doggie Bags display

One thing we can certainly say about our group is that we can certainly feed people! Folks kept arriving with more goodies – veggie platters, fruit kabobs, brownies. We had plenty to eat, and still didn’t have to snarf it all down so we could rush off to groom. The early-morning clouds had burned off, leaving us with that old familiar New England heat and humidity. It felt good to take our time – almost as though we’d planned it that way. There were a couple of distant rumbles from thunder, but they remained idle threats.

Eventually, our ring time arrived. Kathy had about 400 Beardies to show between Sweeps and regular classes, and Dinah (as the special) went in last. I wasn’t sure how badly Dinah would want to show on a hot, sticky day 8 months after her last show, but she was so happy to have both Her Trav and his handsome brother Roy out there with her that she acquitted herself well and went Best Opposite to Roy. Roy went on to Group 2.

The most unfortunate thing about the schedule was that we ended up with the busiest judge of the show. They were holding up the group ring for her while she judged us, so we had no time for pictures or chitchat before she had to go. We were all so hot and sticky by that time that no one was feeling very photogenic anyway – and by the time the poor judge would be available, it would be past our bedtimes. I hope they gave her anything she wanted for dinner that night, including drinks from the top shelf of the bar or the best wine in the cellar.

After Saturday’s showing had concluded, we dragged ourselves back to the hotel and rinsed all the half an inch of sweat and stickiness from our skins. I blasted the AC in my hotel room, and Dinah hopped up onto the bed nearest the unit with a sigh. I have never been so happy to be standing under a running shower in my life! Val and I had Girls’ Night out with Lesley and Sue later that evening, while Pat volunteered to doggy-sit everyone (even Dinah, who knows how to whoop it up with Trav an a hotel room). We had a great time and the waiter was perceptive enough to keep the cold drinks a-coming, but I think I ended up staring at my dinner more than actually mustering up the energy to eat it.

On Sunday, we dragged our sorry carcasses back to the show for another frickin’ afternoon show time. Pat had the Sunday paper. Kathy and Kenny brought chicken salad for lunch (thanks, guys!). We brought out the leftover goodies from the day before and set up a nice little brunch.

The humidity hovered between 100% and 99% for much of the day. It sprinkled fitfully from time to time until the clouds burned off and the sun returned.

“I don’t know how Dinah’s going to do today,” Kathy said. We both knew that Herself likes to put all her effort into one day at the show, and then slack off for all of the other days. Since she showed well on Saturday, we both expected her to just give us the paw on Sunday and do as she pleased.

The other thing that Herself like to do is surprise us, and that she did – by deciding to show beautifully, even at the ragged end of a long, hot couple of days of showing. She arguably worked harder for the second BOS than she did for the first one! She did have some pretty formidable competition in the person of Trav’s daughter Fiona, though. Fee had just gone BOB over her dear dad a couple of weeks before, and was looking good in the ring. Fee ended up going BOW on Sunday, thus scooping up the crossover points from the boys’ 5-point major. Fee’s uncle Roy went on to Group 1 that day.

We all enjoyed watching the judge, who exercised infinite patience with the puppies. “What a nice judge,” someone remarked. “He even says ‘please’ to people in the ring.” Again, since he was the group judge, he had to get to the ring with little time for pictures.

Remember the tornado watch that was forecast for the region? As showing in our ring wound down, we could see that the clouds were growing denser and uglier, and the wind was beginning to pick up. We wasted very little time getting out of Dodge – tents came down, chairs and tables were folded, dogs hopped up into crates in the vehicles – and we cleared out of there before we got blown all the way to Oz. It seemed like an anticlimactic way to spend the time after a reasonably successful show weekend, but we all just wanted to outrun the storm.

Thanks to everyone who entered, brought food and drink, offered goodies for the raffle and bought tickets, and visited during the event. It was great to see everyone – including some new folks we’d only met through email. Thanks too to the show chairs for both host clubs, who made sure that everything Just Worked.

Because we’re hosting the National in Maine next year, it’s a bit too soon to tell whether we will also be holding a Regional in 2011. Kathy and I are trying to work out our schedule for the rest of this dog-show year, and we hope to get to at least one more Regional (Garden State) and the BCCC National. Carolinas is looking mighty tempting, too – and we know they’ll show us a good time. Anyway, we’re glad that our Regional is over, and hope people had a good time.

(The complete results and a bunch of action photos will appear on the BCCME website when I get some time to type them all in.)

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