Every year, I attend the American Chesapeake Club's National Show Specialty. The show rotates each year across three regions of our country, so travel is sometimes involved. I go to the effort to attend this event each year for reasons that I'll share below. For the first time, I missed our National last year when our pups were born just a few days before the event and I was unable to leave mom and pups to travel to Wisconsin. I was thrilled to have a whelping box filled with happy, healthy pups, so I had no regrets about staying home. But, I was particularly excited to head to Portland, Oregon last week for the 2016 show.
When I can, I enter my dogs to compete in the various events associated with our National Specialty. Over the years, I've competed in Obedience, Rally, Conformation, and our Working Dog Stakes. It's not always possible to take a dog for various reasons, but it's important for me to attend regardless because I go for many reasons beyond competition. Our National provides many opportunities, both formal and informal, for learning. There are typically several seminars (health, breed, judging, handling, etc.). And, the show brings knowledgeable people together from around the U.S. and the world and we have nearly a week to spend together to watch judging, share meals, have a drink, or simply walk our dogs together. The formal seminars and the informal discussions are an invaluable learning opportunity for me.
Though I live in Maryland and have the ability to see many Chesapeakes on a regular basis, I think it's important to get out and see dogs from other regions so that my perspective on the breed isn't limited to what I can see locally. I become familiar with dogs from other lines and this opens up breeding opportunities that can help to preserve diversity within our gene pool. I go to see possible stud dogs. And, in one place, you can sometimes see the parents and offspring of any given dog. It's important to see how traits are passed along.
And, amidst all that "work," I get to visit with dear, old friends and make special, new friends. Our common bond is strong as is our commitment to the breed that we love. We joke. We laugh. We support one another. We celebrate each other's successes. And, when the veteran classes go around the ring, we even shed tears together...tears for the old ones we've grown to love over the years...and for those we've recently lost. My friends in our breed community have become some of my dearest friends and I really treasure them.
This year, I hopped on a plane with my little Gudgeon who celebrated her first birthday in Portland. It was her first big trip and first time on a plane. It seems that all of our socialization and training paid off as she was relaxed and enthusiastic about the whole adventure. She went nearly everywhere with me during our stay in Portland and was a ray of sunshine with all she met. When it was time to compete, we showed in the Puppy Sweepstakes under breeder judge, Annette Monugian (Marnett's Chesapeakes) and in the Bred-by Exhibitor class under breeder judge, Betsy Horn Humer (Eastern Water's Chesapeakes). Both judges placed Gudgeon in 2nd place in their respective classes. This was a lovely result for her 2nd weekend out in the show ring. In addition, Gudgeon earned her Canine Good Citizen title. So, all-in-all, this was a successful trip for us on many fronts. And, I loved having this time to deepen our bond.
I want to thank Chairpersons Marilyn Williams and Karen Marcotte and everyone who volunteered to host us all in Portland. I've co-chaired one of these events myself and have served on the American Chesapeake Club Show Committee and I know how much work goes into a specialty that spans six days and includes 6 competition events, seminars, meals, trophies, etc. Thank you, Team Portland!