Monday, April 10, 2006

The National on a Budget

The dog show I went to last week was the Dachshund Club of America’s National Specialty show. It is an annual affair that is hosted by a different Dachshund club each year.

A note of explanation:
DCA is the parent club of all the local level dachshund clubs in the USA. Pretty much all recognized breeds have a national parent club and smaller local level clubs. The parent club, in turn, is a member of the American Kennel Club. AKC is a club whose membership is comprised of clubs. In addition to the parent clubs; all-breed clubs, obedience clubs and so on are members of AKC.

The DCA National is a big deal. People come in from all over the US, Canada and a few other countries to attend. It is a place to see and to be seen. Generally people bring their best to DCA. It is an honor for your dog to just place (2nd-4th) in its class. I try to go when money, time and distance allow (the big exception was Portland, but Crunch was getting his VC plaque and I wanted to receive it in person). In the dozen years I have been actively showing this was my fifth National.

Anywho, it is a lot of fun and I get to visit all my dachshund friends.

I only took Crunch with me and at 13 ½ this will probably be his last National. John is young and he still has some maturing to do. I can’t afford to enter both of them and I’ll lose what little sanity I have by staying in a hotel room with two very active dogs and no backyard for them to run around in. In this post I detail the classes Crunch was entered in at the show.

Last Wednesday I drove down to Georgia with Crunch, Brad and Trudy all jammed into Larry’s Contour. The van would have been nice, but Larry needed it to shuttle kids around and the Contour has much better mileage. My first step in economizing, it is very easy to spend a lot of money at the National between the hotel, meals and shopping opportunities, and I wanted to be frugal. The next economy measure I took was to bring sodas, bread and cold cuts in a cooler. My room mate (another good way to cut down on costs) has a travel fridge and we planned on lunch in our room. Breakfast would be covered by the early morning hospitality rooms (fruit, bagels, muffins and coffee). All that was left would be dinner. I did spring for the awards banquet, but that still left three other nights.

I pulled in to the hotel at a bout 8:00 pm. The evening hospitality was still going full blast. I scored a plate of pizza bites and I got to see all the dapper dachshunds. Great a free dinner!

The next day, Thursday, I helped Kandee (my room mate) with the junior handlers and I got to go to the Wild Animal Safari and dinner for free! I share more about this later. All I’ll say now is that I got to see some cool beasties. So far the National on a budget was working out.

Friday was show time for Mr. Crunchy. Just as I was going into the ring another dog and handler followed us in.


In the catalogue Crunch was listed as the only Veteran. It turns out the catalogue was wrong and we had competition. Unfortunately my mind was still reeling from this concept (I thought I had first place in the bag and a spot in Best of Variety) so I did a less than stellar job. We were out handled, but we weren’t too shabby in the ring. So we got second place.


Later on we went in again for stud dog class. Ironically we were up against the same dog and his get. I was much better prepared mentally and I did a decent job. We got second again, but it took the judge a much longer time to make his decision. The main thing was that Crunch looked great and a lot of people got to see him in action and what he can produce. The puppies did very well in their respective classes. Brad came in first and Trudy got 3rd in a class of ten, not bad!

Crunch all throughout this was wagging his tail and having a great time soaking up all the attention. He is such a ham.

That night I went out with a few friends to a great steak and seafood place, Jeanine's Restaurant, where they have great onion rings and very good prices. This was the first meal I had to pay for and, discounting the prepaid banquet, the last.

Saturday morning I cheered on Brad in the winners’ class. I was going to go sight seeing, but the weather was terrible and I watched the show instead. That night was the banquet. I sat with my friend Susan and exchanged snarky comments all night. It was great fun. I even chatted with one of the judges and told her how I appreciated her judging style. When she was making cuts for the finial variety winner she would send each group of excused dogs one more time around the ring. I thought it was very classy. The National is a showcase and her little gesture affirmed that.

Sunday morning dawned clear, bright and chilly. Before loading up to go I helped out the host club with room checks. I only worked for two hours, but they were very appreciative. I didn’t have to do it, but because I did I got noticed. Slowly, but surely I’m earning a good reputation in the dachshund world.

Then I was homeward bound, with a little side trip to Alabama. Callaway Gardens is very close to the border and it was an opportunity that was too good to miss. Crunch got to add to his list of states he has peed on and I’ve at least stepped on Alabama soil. I figure this will help maintain my status in the Axis of Weevil. It was only a rest area, but I did get an official “Welcome to Alabama” from the lovely staff. I’ll try to do a real honest to goodness visit some other time.

And that was my big trip to Georgia. The only other highlight was that I found a Steak n Shake in North Carolina. They have a new thing “Sippable Sundaes,” man are those good.

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