As a whopper snowstorm bore down on the East Coast this past weekend, the Westminster Kennel Club issued forth with an edict, that after more than 38 years showing dogs, I would no less expect.
From the very proper Westminster Kennel Club website, "Westminster is fully informed about the impending storm but all reports indicate that the storm will move out by Saturday afternoon. So, in the tradition of all good dog shows, the show will go on. Travel safe and we look forward to seeing you on Monday, Feb. 11 and Tuesday Feb. 12, when the weather forecast is clear and in the low 40s. ...there will be no refunds."
Never mind that you'll have to move hell and high water to get there, but the show will go on. Westminster wasn't kidding when they said that bit about "in the tradition of all good dog shows..."
My friend Jeanette, who shows Afghan hounds, said she received a call from another Afghan aficionado. Seems the friend, from Texas, was traveling to Westminster from Texas, and somewhere around Connecticut, ran into the whopper blizzard. He slid and rolled his van with five dogs inside. Thankfully, the dogs were all secured in crates in the van and came out just fine. The van is totaled, but dog folks stepped up and gave him and his dogs a ride to the Garden, and he was scheduled to compete on Monday morning.
As Jeanette says, "All for a 10-cent ribbon. But the show goes on, it could be your day!"
In the 70s, I was showing a couple of Shetland Sheepdogs that were really good in obedience trials, no thanks to my novice training. I traveled quite a bit to the Phoenix area. During a huge storm in 1978, which took out the bridge on I-17 in Black Canyon City, I headed for Phoenix because I was entered in a dog show! I traveled over the old Black Canyon Bridge as engineers stood by to make sure it didn't crumble as well.
When I arrived in Phoenix, they had to move the show off the grass and onto the paved parking lot, because the place was a pond. I distinctly remember the "long sits and downs" in which your dog is expected to stay in the sit for 1 minute and the down for 3 minutes. My poor dog had a lay in a running stream, but he did it!
I've also had to stop and buy clothes and find a hotel in Phoenix overnight because it snowed so hard up north we couldn't make it home!
In the past decade or so, we've held our local Australian Shepherd Club shows at a friend's ranch in Williamson Valley. It must be Granite Mountain, but weather extremes seem to be the norm! One show was just concluding during a weekend, when a cyclone came over the mountain and hit the show arena. My husband and I were trying to hold a portable canopy down until we realized that lightning abounded and we were attached to a metal frame! We let that go, grabbed the dogs and headed for the van, where we watched it rain about 2 inches in 45 minutes. Did we pack up and leave when the storm passed? Heck no, we had another show that day, and one of our Aussies won the last point to earn her championship.
Other times, the wind has blown so hard I thought seriously that we would end up in Kansas, Toto, Fido and all. Dog show people are experts at tying down shade canopies. We haul huge iron stakes, sledge hammers to drive them in, and tie downs. If a cyclone comes, the fabric of the canopy might rip and disappear, but the frame isn't going anywhere!
Jeanette remembers a show she attended in Palm Springs, Calif. High winds blew in, and it was so bad it did close the show. "Canopies were flying, dogs were loose, porta-potties were blown over," she said. "We had to evacuate and couldn't take our stuff, there was no time. The police made sure we didn't come back 'til the next day."
Another time, she said, it rained so hard that sinkholes appeared on the field. "The water was ankle deep," Jeanette said. "I won a reserve, and I have a photo of me just drenched."
These shows are fun because the handlers will carry their carefully coiffed pooches to the ring, no matter what they have to wade through to get there!
Yes, the show will go on! Don't miss it - see the broadcast schedules and live video at www.westminsterkennelclub.org.