It’s 100 plus degrees and 90% humidity. Two judge changes out of four. No coolers or outside food allowed. $6.00 per day to park. The prospect of facing your breed’s #1 dog everyday and staying at a motel where English speakers are in the minority. A huge city-wide Harley Davidson parade and chronic congestion getting into and out of the venue. Where is this dog show Hell on earth? It the OKC Summer Classic Cluster in Oklahoma City and it’s the best place to be in the end of June.
These shows are some of the best run and best managed, exhibitor-wise, we’ve ever attended. From the moment you pull into the small parking lot outside the Cox Convention Center you feel the care this club gives to its exhibitors. Once the lot fills up it’s one car in, one car out. If you need help unloading there is a phalanx of kids with huge carts available to schlep your gear into the building and into your set up. Club members in golf carts drive around the interior of the building bring you pizza, sandwiches, soda and water on the set up day. This year’s entries were up and it’s no wonder. If you have to drive all day or more to come to a broiling hot town a welcome like this makes it all worthwhile.
Unfortunately, we didn’t fare as well in the ring. Our Eva only beat our breed’s #1 dog one day. It was the televised day and our handler was interviewed by the ESPN crew before and after the ring. She gave a good account of herself and some promotion for Eva. Our young boy, Danny, was winners dog three of the four days. Good except for the fact that Eva’s half brother, Jolly, needed only three points to finish his championship. We all decided to play it fair and let the judges decide. Now Jolly only need two points!
Probably the only low-light the whole weekend came from the behavior of our competitors. We had waited to meet the owner of our breed’s #1 dog for quite some time. Our handler said he was a nice guy genuinely complimentary of Eva and a great guy. Also at the show was a judge who is provisional in our breed and a good friend of this man. On the day our dog won BOB they were sitting in the bleachers around the ring. In front of them was our new friend who has French Bulldogs who heard the whole thing as did many others. These two people sat criticising every aspect of our bitch loudly. When the judge pointed to her for the win they both loudly exclaimed, “You’ve got to be kidding!”
While I would expect such unsportsmanlike conduct from our direct competitor, to hear it from a provisional judge is disturbing. Anything she has to say about another exhibitor’s dog should be done in private. I later learned she and the other owner were going to lunch and dinner together along with some other friends at the show. While this also may be viewed as unethical, the provisional judge wasn’t judging at this cluster so her time was her own. However, to witness this kind of conduct from somebody who may very well judge our dog was eye opening. She has an assignment in Kansas later in the summer. We had plans to attend this cluster, but knowing what we now know, we will never show to this woman with any dog we own. If she felt free to do this in such a public way to us, she will do it to anybody.
With declining entries all over the country, it’s easy to see why exhibitors can feel defeated. We have been at this a long time and will alway show our dogs. This judge hopefully will find it hard to get assignments in our breed. Nobody needs to be judged by this kind of person.
But, in the end, the warm hospitality of the show giving clubs made this weekend our best this season. We will return to these shows often and let others know how fun and welcome you feel at this cluster. On a doggy potty break on the third day of the show I passed by two hot, sweaty and tired club members working the unloading area. I shouted toward them how great the show was and how tired and hot they looked. One of them cheerfully shouted back, “Well…sometime you have to host the party!” Indeed.