October 5th - 12th
The Ranch, Loveland CO

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The 2010 National in Utah

What a fun National we had this year! After all the worries of bad weather and rumors of inconvenient facilities, it still turned out well. And I have to say it was one of the "friendlier" nationals I've attended. For some reason we didn't hear nearly as much complaining, and I saw a lot of friendly gestures and chatting going on, and hardly any sour faces.

Of course the weather had a lot to do with it. If Bill Burggraaf had placed a special order with the weather gods, it couldn't have been much better. I know there were some people who were cold when they were washing dogs early in the morning, but guess what? That is a fact of life at many, many shows across the country. Maybe those of you who live in the south don't experience that as often as others, but it can and does happen everywhere.

Once the sun rose a little higher in the sky the days were absolutely lovely. Warm enough to be very comfortable, but not so hot we couldn't leave a dog in the car for a bit now and then. And certainly not so hot that we had to worry about the dogs working outside, say in the herding arena.

Speaking of herding I can attest to the fact that the facility was darn near perfect. It was kind of chilly Saturday morning but before long people were shedding their jackets. The arena was enormous, the stock were good and the Herding Committee has coffee at the ready for everyone. This is the first time I've spent the day with herding folks at the national, and it was lots of fun. Everyone is nice, claps for every team, and compliments the winners.

Big kudos to Bill and his team for the arrangement in the main building. First of all the setup for double handlers was wonderful. Owners and others had complete access to all four sides of the ring without interfering with spectators. I only used it once, but I know lots of owners and handling teams who found it to be very accommodating. We didn't have a lot of vendors, but the ones we did have were top notch. I and several others ran a tab at Kevin's coffee wagon; you can't get much more convenient than that!

Another convenience for handlers, owners and dogs was the location of the photographer, right outside the ring. Leave the ring, walk to the opposite corner with ribbon and bowl in hand and there you were.

Lanalee organized a platoon of videographers and from what I hear the video streaming, although less than perfect, kept people at home pretty well glued to their seats. And Bobby Lindsay had great access and his videos are awesome. Someone showed me some of his footage on the DVDs and it was great. I got to see the 9-12 class and I could actually see my puppy's movement, something you just can't do when you're running around the ring trying to double.

As you can guess I talk to a lot of dog people in the course of a day in the office and I haven't heard one major complaint about this national. The judges seemed pleased as well - tired of course, but happy with the facility, the ring stewards, and the dogs.

We cannot forget the members of the local club, the Great Salt Lake German Shepherd Dog Club. From what I hear they were everywhere helping with whatever was needed. They may be a small club, but they are mighty!

While I'm on the national kick, I need to tell you what I know about the facility for next year and dispel some rumors along the way.

The 2011 National will be at the Kansas ExpoCentre September 26 through October 2. I spoke with someone the other day who said they were looking for a hotel for the national. They wanted something closer to the show sight and with more parking than the host hotel.  Apparently someone had told them the hotel was in downtown Topeka and didn't have enough parking or grass. The truth is the Capitol Plaza is connected to the Expocentre - you can walk through the hotel to the arena. The hotel is a high-rise but it has lots of parking AND lots of grass. Don't believe me? Take a look at the picture on page 38.

Happy Thanksgiving!