Monday, September 26, 2011

Move to the Middle or Rove, Part III: A Few Words from the Far West

by Karla Spitzer
Somis, California

 One thing that has not been mentioned, that I can recall, in this on-going discussion about what to do about the ABC National – where to move, whether to move, whether to rove – is 'sportsmanship.'  

Question:  is it sporting to make the ABC members of the central and western half of the US drive to within a couple of hundred miles of the east coast each and every year for the National?  If you've ever driven it (especially from the far west), you know that the trip is hugely challenging.  

Add dogs (usually Boxers) and an RV (usually, if you're driving), and if you're not going east across the far northern tier (the long way to KY), you're going through the Rockies (tough AND slow), or you will be spending 2 - 3 days going through the great American desert (usually hot, windy, truck-filled and, therefore, somewhat dangerous), only to emerge into Tornado Alley in northern Texas and Oklahoma for about 2 more days. This is the usual scenario unless, of course, you have people who can drive around the clock; but some of us are human and can't physically do that.  The only good news about this marathon drive is that gas generally gets cheaper as one drives east.  If you want a chance for a genuine character building opportunity, well, drive for several days with multiple Boxers at the time of the year when the desert tends to heat up and blow hot and dusty and the tornadoes tend to form and whirl.  Good times.  All should share in this. And for some, this drive is the only opportunity to attend the ABC National because some airports in the SW will not fly dogs after May 1 – too hot.  And, of course, more airlines are not flying dogs at all, so that might put everyone into 'drive mode.'  Of course, moving the date of the National to a few weeks earlier would help, if the event isn’t going to be moved.  May is a potentially bad time of the year for driving through the desert and the beginning of tornado season in Tornado Alley.

The AKC (to whom we must bow) is all about sportsmanship...NO ONE likes to be inconvenienced, but wouldn't it be more sporting if there were equal opportunity inconveniences in attending the ABC for all members at some times rather than big inconveniences for just some members all the time?

As for putting on the shows, there are talented and dedicated people all across the country who are show chairs and on show committees who work hard for dog sports in Boxer clubs and all-breed clubs.  So, why not do a centrally located national with roving regionals just like now?  At least that way, there would be at least one ABC specialty within a few days' driving time of all in the continental US, unlike now, when there is none for the west coast when the National is in Fort Mitchell and the Regionals are on the east coast.  That seems to be as unsporting as it can get, and it has happened three to four times in the last seven years.  As for the worry that the job will not be done to the current standard, have a little faith and patience (and sportsmanship!!). Boxer lovers in other parts of the country are as capable or incapable as you are....:-).  

I think that what is missing in this on-going discussion is a genuine compassion for others’ points of view.  For instance, compassion about how difficult it can be to get there from the west.  Driving east of the Missouri, with the exception of tornado season, is a piece of cake compared to crossing the desert in many months, including May.  The other missing element is good, old-fashioned sportsmanship.  We've all heard all the arguments about how if the ABC moves, people in some parts of the country will not be able to attend.  Well, that issue exists right now. Let's play fair (the essence of sportsmanship) and spread the opportunity to attend our National around a little more.  


  1. I think Karla makes a very valid point, it's about sharing the burden now and again about the distance to travel. As a wife and mother, I learned to compromise a long time ago:)

    Or we simply need to have a roving national just like the regionals. Others know the hard work involved but it's not impossible to consider. That's another form of sharing :)

  2. Thanks for your comment, Ann -- that's exactly the point we're trying to make with this series.