Have you ever wanted to see a Newfoundland Dog up close? How about 500?
Yes, you read that right, last week, almost 500 Newfoundlands and their owners gathered at the Newfoundland National Specialty in Frankenmuth, MI.
The National is a week-long celebration which is much more than a typical dog show. It includes working events such as carting, obedience and rally obedience. There are parades honoring living legends (Newfoundlands 10 years old and over) and rescues. Special recognition is given the Top 20 conformation and Top 10 obedience dogs as well as to Versatile Newfoundlands, who have earned an AKC championship, an AKC obedience title, NCA water rescue dog title and NCA draft dog title. That’s just a few of the events on the weeklong agenda!
In short, it highlights the many different aspects that make the Newfoundland Dog so special.
This year I attended for the first time. Winn and I arrived Monday night and stayed through Thursday afternoon. We were entered into two Rally Intermediate trials with the hope that she would get her title while we were there. The requirements for the title are three qualifying legs under two different judges. We earned the first two legs the previous weekend, so we just needed to do well in one of the two trials to accomplish our goal and we did! On Tuesday morning we scored a 93, got second place and earned the title.My daughter met me up there to cheer me on and after getting our ribbons, she and I were able to wander around, enjoy many of the other activities and explore the cute town of Frankenmuth. The working events were scheduled at the beginning of the week and we watched friends in the obedience and rally rings and also observed the specialty carting event.We had a picnic lunch, went to Bronners the World’s Largest Christmas Store and got milkshakes and ice cream to celebrate our success in the ring.I don’t know a lot about conformation showing, but I really enjoyed watching the puppies in the ring. Who doesn’t love watching puppies?
The planning and coordination that went into this big event was incredible and I was amazed by the spectacle of it all. The amount of gear that gets hauled around for the show dogs is mind boggling. When Winn and I go to a trial, I bring a soft crate, a chair and a bag with snacks, water and something to read. That’s nothing compared to the crates, tables and grooming tools that accompany the conformation dogs. There was a separate washing station set up near the hotel and then the dogs were moved into their reserved grooming spaces to be finished. Wire crates, which are very heavy, are used in the grooming area because they are more secure and frequently one owner is traveling with multiple dogs. This ensures that they are safely secured while the attention may be on another dog.In between our trials, I walked around with Winn to chat with several of our friends who were there but I also found myself just watching it all in amazement. I met some new people, stopped to watch some grooming in action and spent some time with this beautiful brown boy (who was at Westminster last year) and his owner. There were very few brown Newfoundlands there and she sought us out and introduced herself. She loved Winn and took us around the room to meet her friends and fellow brown Newfoundland lovers.
I had such a good time on this trip and Winn was a terrific traveling companion. She can still be a little shy when meeting new people so I passed treats to those who wanted to meet her and she figured out pretty quickly that meeting new people is tasty. I made a funny observation while there: owners tended to offer the treats from their open hand under her chin; handlers held the treat between two fingers above her nose. The difference made me smile every time. Winn was great in the hotel. She figured out the elevator really quickly, knew right where our room was and loved to hang out on the balcony and watch everyone coming and going through the parking lot. She ate well and slept hard. We did hear some barking from time to time, but she never made a peep. She was the perfect hotel dog.On Thursday morning we met up with her breeder. He and his wife arrived late the night before and this was the first time we had seen each other since pick up day when Winn was 10 weeks old. He was showing Winn’s big sister Bertie on Friday and he set up her crate next to Winn’s. The two girls hung out together for a little while. It was so nice to see him with Winn, she’s changed a lot over the past year!My only regret is that Annie wasn’t with us. My primary interest in going to Newfoundland National was to march in the Rescue Parade with her and I figured if I was there with Annie, I might as well bring Winn along and we could participate in Rally. I also knew that having Winn by her side would make Annie feel more comfortable. It really hurt to be there without her, but I brought the honor flag I made at the Blogpaws conference and attached it to the bag that I carried around with us. While Winn and I were competing, Annie was right there next to Winn’s crate. It did bring a little comfort, feeling like she was there in spirit. I never would have thought about going if it wasn’t for my desire to celebrate Annie and how special she was.
Tomorrow’s post is about Precious, the namesake of Annie’s rescue group. She was there, I spent a little time with her, and she marched in the Rescue Parade. She proudly represented the 43 other Newfoundlands that were rescued with her, many of whom are no longer with us.