Sunday, May 4, 2008

Long Time No Blog-- National Recap

Today seems like a great day to blog... Why? Well, we just returned from a terrific week in the Poconos, on the shore of the Delaware River, at the Clumber Spaniel National Specialty!

We had a VERY enjoyable week. I drove out last Saturday and Sunday, starting out from Wisconsin Saturday, staying at my folks' on Saturday, hooking up with Roe and Gordie in Michigan and driving the rest of the way behind them on Sunday. This made the trip a little easier and meant good company on the rest stops! We arrived late Sunday at the Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort. Monday offered some nice "down time." Tuesday, I showed Wooster for the first time ever in the Veteran Sweeps. We didn't win, but we did have a great time! Wooster was a trooper-- he just kept looking at me as if to say, "I don't know what we're doing, but I'll do whatever you want." Truly, this is a day I had been looking forward to since Wooster came to us in 2003!!

Wednesday I attended the International Symposium, including presentations by Dr. Keller of OFA and Pat Craige Trotter. Dr. Keller was very informative on the subjects of hips and elbows, and both speakers offered a great deal of food for thought. I skipped out on most of the afternoon presentations to help out with blood draws for the DNA Bank and PDP1 testing. Very productive for the Clumber Spaniel Health Foundation, as we banked nearly 20 more dogs. Thank you to all who participated-- your participation in this important project not only takes care of health testing that-- hopefully-- you would do anyway, but also can help other Clumbers down the road by making your dogs' DNA available for research purposes.

I picked Michael up at the Allentown airport on Wednesday. We ended up having a very enjoyable dinner with Cindy and Bill. Then Michael started washing dogs. Poor Woo was the first victim on Wednesday night, in preparation for the National Specialty on Thursday.

Thursday, the dog washing (and grooming!) continued. I showed Roe and Gordie's Tess in a large Open Bitch class. We didn't place, but I thought we showed well. Wooster and I again had a good time showing in the Veterans' class, and Watson enjoyed himself in the Breed ring-- apparently, I was just along for the ride.

A particular highlight for me of Thursday night's banquet was watching Michael collect Wooster's award from the club for his Senior Hunter title, earned in Fall 2007. They both worked SO hard for this award and make such a great team that I had really been looking forward to that moment! We enjoyed seeing all of the other new titleholders honored as well. Another highlight was the arrival of Chris Paige, in the guise of the Duke of Newcastle (as seen in Francis Wheatley's painting "Return from Shooting") who toured the banquet hall with two of Patty's Lothian Clumbers.

Friday we enjoyed another day's showing. Unfortunately, we found no more success than earlier in the week but once again had fun trying. While I prepped for the show, Michael earned a new title of his own: "Champion Packer." I had procured 2 additional crates (and crate pads) earlier in the week, and we also had his luggage, which was not in the car for the trip out. He may never let me travel unsupervised again!

We finally left the hotel late Friday afternoon. I can say with confidence that I would highly recommend the Shawnee Inn for a future vacation (or as a dog show site!). It is by far the most beautiful location we've been to yet for one of these events.

Most importantly, we saw many old friends and made some new ones, human and canine, during this week. This is truly a highlight of my year, and I look forward to this one chance to converse face-to-face with so many people that I only "see" via email for the rest of the year. We were told, courtesy of Club stalwart and founding member Bryant Freeman, that this was the largest EVER gathering of Clumber spaniels. I can easily believe it. I filled a great portion of the week meeting and greeting the people and the gorgeous dogs, and I am already looking forward to next year!

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