Landed in Columbia MO last night at 9:00. Picked up my well-taken-care-of but happy to see me dogs and went home. This morning it was back to the usual routine, though I confess getting up at 5:00 a.m. was not fun.
Some musings about the National in general.
The AKC people and the volunteers were incredible. So were the competitors. Everyone was having a great time, and as far as I could tell things were run with a smooth efficiency I wish we could all see every show weekend. It was a lot of dogs and a lot of runs, but they were done each day by 5:00.
The arena was very nice, though rings 3 and 4 were cramped and basically had little to no spectator room. The large arena made up for it, it was hard to NOT get a great seat in the arena. I didn't see any dogs slip on the dirt, but it did look awfully packed by the end of the weekend. I was sort of surprised they didn't groom it Sat night for Sunday. Food at the arena was good, but very limited.
Okay, I confess, not in love with the area. I could NOT find a decent place to eat that wasn't Fried, greasy, or both. My hotel was, frankly, a dump. There are inexpensive hotels then there are cheap hotels, and the Econolodge was cheap. The wireless was a joke, the TV remote didn't work, the clock radio didn't work because the wiring was screwy in the wall plug, and my non-smoking room reeked of old, stale smoke. Even after a specific request to clean it, the smell was only muted by heavy perfume. To cap it off, the mattress had seen better decades and the pillows were more like pancakes. If the National ever goes back to NC, please do not stay at the Econolodge.
Lots of spectacular runs this weekend and a few really unfortunate ones. I felt horrible for the dobe gal whose dog, running in the main ring so she was the center of all eyes, had to stop and have diarrhea. There were some runs that fell completely apart. On the other hand, there was some amazing stuff. I saw some handling that worked but that I'd never even want to try to emulate, and some that both worked and was gorgeous.
I watched a lot of running contacts over the weekend. In the Challenge round it was very clear that if you did not have a true running contact you were not going to the finals. On the other hand, quite a few of the dogs missed their contacts, both aframe and dogwalk, thus also not going to the finals. It's sort of a catch 22. If you want to be truly competitive now you have to have one, but a lot of them are still prone to failure. So you either win or are eliminated.
I hope next year I get to go to Tulsa and actually watch the finals. I can drive there, so no plane to catch!