Post image for Eukanuba Eve

The fog rolling in over Long Beach

I write tonight with utter relief that I’ve not developed cataracts. Within the last hour, a thick fog has rolled over the site of the Eukanuba National Championship with such velocity that I found myself groping strangers to find my way back to the hotel. Only when I overheard others remark on the fog did I realize I’d be okay.

I’ll concede, however, that the enveloping fog seems to magnify a mood I’ve picked up on since arriving in Long Beach to blog from the dog show: People are in a great mood. There’s excitement and anticipation, and whether folks are vendors, exhibitors waiting to pick up an armband, or one friend telling another about the strange woman who fondled him on the street, they’re happy to be here. Except for one venue of competition here, the “vibes” are relaxed, laid back, and to borrow from my kids, “all good.” More on that “one place” in a bit.

I confess that as honored (and surprised!) as I was to be asked by Eukanuba to blog from their show, I’m not really sure what’s expected of me. I tend to lace my opinions with humor, but mostly I stay below the radar. Eukanuba has been up front with me and asks only that I write things as I see them from the perspective of a dog fancier. And that’s what you’ll be getting from me over the weekend. Will my perspective be clouded because I’m not showing a dog here? Maybe, but I don’t think so.Though my dog did get an invite to Eukanuba this year, he was left at home to terrorize his geriatric house-mate. In the end, I believe a show dog person is a show dog person who bleeds purple rinse-free shampoo and sees things from bait colored glasses.

Winston Churchill, sound asleep

Since my arrival, I’ve been included in meetings and tours attended by corporate “suits” and employees, and been privy to the “underbelly” of putting on the AKC Eukanuba National Championship. Eukanuba has promised me transparency and I’ve gotten it.  Behind the proverbial curtain, I can see that this dog show is a business. These folks are professionals with jobs to do, and to a man (generically speaking), they strive to do it well. But as I hung back and watched the staff from afar as they went on their tour of the show site, one thing was obvious to me: These men and women adore the dogs.There have been dog shows all week leading up to the main event this weekend, and I chuckled as I noticed staffers working hard to pay attention to the business at hand, but always there was the quick glance to admire a dog walking by. Always, a hand casually reached out to scratch a dog within reach. The people I’ve met believe in their product and my conversations with them lead me to believe that they couldn’t work at Eukanuba if they didn’t  believe in the integrity of their food. After all, they’re dog people, too.  As an aside, this is a company that allows their personnel to bring their dogs to work. In the photograph above, meet “Winston Churchill” the dog sound asleep while his mistress attended the Security meeting.

Organizing this show has to be a Herculean task the likes of which I’ve not seen before simply because of its sheer ambition. Under one roof, or within steps of that roof, are highly competitive events of an international scale. Imagine: An all breed Confirmation and Agility Invitational, Obedience trials,Police Dog and carting demonstrations,Junior Showmanship, a Bred by Exhibitor competition, a Breeder of the Year presentation, an immense “Meet the Breed” venue, Dock Dog competition, and the event that interests me for its uniqueness, the World Challenge……….all in one place. If you learn nothing else from tonight’s blog, know this: this is dog show heaven. And that’s even before you hit the vendor area.

Grooming area

Press Room that tomorrow will be filled

View of the press room from the grooming area

My center of gravity over the next  couple of days will be the press room seen below.To the left is what we see from our vantage point. Look at the size of this grooming area! Further over are the agility and confirmation rings. And just outside, the dock dog diving pools.

One of the Agility Rings. I believe that’s real sod

World Challenge Rehearsal

After our tour, we visited the arena where group competition will happen.. Rehearsals for the World Challenge were taking place, and the mood here was palpably different than anything I’d encountered all day. I don’t think it was because we were surrounded by people from all over the world speaking dozens of languages. As a matter of fact, I overhead a mother speaking Hungarian to her youngster and grabbed the chance to practice the language I’d grown up with. We were in a big space with lots of echoes and it was when I asked her to repeat herself because I’d been limping with sore sunglasses and hadn’t heard her that I realized how rusty I’d gotten.No, the mood here was because of something different, and I came to decide that it was the phermones of competition that I sensed. There were few smiles, no joking, and certainly none of the comraderie I saw in the other building. If I suggested that it was because these exhibitors had come with their dogs from very far away and were here to compete and win, it would give short shrift to the American exhibitors who are no less competitive. I have no answer for this, but perhaps by tomorrow I’ll have a better sense of why this would be. But in looking at the picture I took of these foreign visitors below, do YOU detect joviality?

World Challenge Competitors

It’s late and Eukanuba begins in earnest tomorrow. I’ll be blogging ringside and from the press room, and with more alacrity. Until then….

Dock Dog Demonstration

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Hey Fitz December 4, 2010 at 4:39 pm

Great stuff, but it's "conFORmation"!!! Not confirmation.

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solsticekennels December 4, 2010 at 11:49 pm

We are home on puppy watch so looking forward to your reports, If you make it to the Cardi ring I'd love to hear about it.

Reply

Bev December 7, 2010 at 3:48 pm

I'm so glad you were able to join us because, frankly, there is no way I could have Tweeted ringside with the same knowledge and panache as you. Thank you so much for letting @Eukanuba re-Tweet you! Best color commentary EVAH!!

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