The 2014 CWCCA National: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Whew!! Nothing like a Cardigan National half way across the country to put you out of touch with real life for ten days! Alas, all of the other trappings of so-called responsible adulthood were waiting for me when I returned. Bummer! I took a couple of days off following my return to catch up on some sleep and to relieve my DVR of the heavy burden it was carrying with a week’s worth of shows. It also gave me a chance to reflect on my second Nationals experience.
1. Seeing all of the folks I normally only communicate with through Facebook. It was wonderful to greet old friends and meet new ones face to face. I think that is truly the best part of any National.
2. The hotel. No, not the host hotel, though that may have been okay too. We ended up switching our reservation to the Travelodge that is less than two miles from Purina, and saved about half of what we would have spent at the host hotel, which was over 10 miles away from the show site. While this is obviously an older and somewhat rundown motel, the staff were absolutely stellar, and they obviously cater to the dog show crowd, providing handy clean-up stations and even a dog bathing room. If I ever go out to Purina again and need a hotel, I’ll be sure to stay there.
3. The weather. I suspect that the folks who were having their event at Purina the week following ours will not agree, but for the CWCCA week the weather was pretty darn good. Only a bit of rain a couple of evenings, and the temps in the 70’s felt heavenly compared to the 40-something degree temps here in Maine.
4. The venue. It is so refreshing to have a show at a facility that was built for the purpose. The flooring was superb — vastly preferable to rolled out mats — and made getting up and down off my knees way less painful than concrete. The site offers a dog bathing room right off of the grooming space, and there are even designated changing rooms. You can put your pantyhose on without danger of falling into a toilet!! The grounds were gorgeous and well-manicured as well, making those potty walks very pleasant.
5. A class placement. The 6-9 month puppy dog class was large (22) and deep in quality, so I was thrilled that Heathcliffe took 3rd. What a way to bring your first bred-by dog to a National!
1. Splitting things up. As nice as the Purina show venue is, I much prefer to have the event right at the host hotel, as we did at the Gettysburg National (the only other one I’ve attended). Having the show separate from the host hotel made it all feel a bit more fragmented. For that reason, if I do a return trip I think I would opt to rent a camper for the week and stay onsite, even though it is more expensive than the hotel option.
2. Some late nights. This was inevitable, what with the large entries, but the Megan and the Sweepstakes seemed to go FOREVER. I don’t have any sort of solution to that, I just personally prefer to have things finish up earlier in the day so I can get to the eating and socializing. 😉
3. The distance. I know it is located in the Central U.S. and is therefore arguably one of the most fair locations, but as someone who lives in the far Northeast corner of the country, can I just say that that was “wicked fah?” Twenty-three hours in the car each way was just NOT my idea of a good time. I know, I signed up for it, and I could have flown, but flying with dogs is one of the top things I freak out about, so no. If rumors are true and the CWCCA decides to go to Purina every other year, I’m afraid I’ll be missing a lot of Nationals. I just can’t see myself making that drive every other year.
Sigh. Can we talk about the food thing for a moment? Because like my Cardigans, I am highly food-oriented, and the food at Purina? SUCKS. I mean, like, sucks to the point where I think they must have actually been trying to suck that hard, because I don’t see how it is possible to be that bad without trying. And it’s not even just that the quality of the food was bad; the cafe did not open until folks were well into their grooming time and at about half-past “I need my coffee now!” They also closed down mid-afternoon, so if you were there for some late classes and needed a snack or a quick caffeine hit, you were shit out of luck. Oh, and speaking of coffee: They ran out of half-and-half. FOR A DAY AND A HALF. Like, hello! They sell it up the road at Walmart. Get some!!!
A big deal was made by the Powers That Be prior to the National about how Purina does not allow outside food. Actually, most indoor show venues I frequent have the same sign posted, but I usually still bring in my own bottled water and maybe a granola bar or two to snack on. With Purina, I almost feel like you HAVE to bring your own food, purely out of self-defense. And really, if you can’t have any non-decaffeinated coffee OR half-and-half available, I am damn well going to run to the convenience store on the corner and get some.
And even worse: though we were repeatedly assured that Purina could and would accommodate those with special dietary restrictions, in actuality they were not able to do so in any kind of reasonable manner, so those who could not eat the limited offerings were doomed to either leave or smuggle in something that wouldn’t half-kill them if they ate it. Not cool, Purina. Not cool.
I guess what I’m saying is, Purina needs to REALLY step it up in the food department, because what they currently have is just not acceptable.