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‘Way too long…

I feel like I’ve let you all down. It’s been several weeks since I’ve written a blog entry, and even longer since anybody else did. I hope you can forgive me once you read my excuses :)

On the day when I wrote my prior post, I was on my way to a business meeting in Québec, Canada. (Lovely old city, and I think it’s the only walled city in North America.) I was there two days, flew home on the third day, and then frantically finished loading the car so Barbara and I could drive to Greeley, Colorado, to the 2008 ASSA National.

The National is, each year, the primary fund-raising event for Sheltie Rescue of Utah, and a vital fund-raising event for the National Sheltie Rescue Network. Naturally, things didn’t go as smoothly in all respects as one would like.

Before we started driving, we checked the Departments of Transportation for Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado to determine the road conditions. Turned out that I-80 across southern Wyoming was closed for almost half of its length due to a major spring snowstorm. So, we chose to take US 40 across Utah, dropping down along the White River in Colorado to join I-70 at Rifle, then I-70 into Denver and I-25 up to (near) Greeley. That all went very well, until we got to Vail.

Vail Pass was closed because of a truck jack-knifed up at the summit of the pass…so I-70 was closed until they could get that cleaned up. After waiting 1.5 hours and learning that they weren’t even predicting when it would re-open, Barbara and I decided to backtrack about 20 miles, then take a side road up to Leadville and back down to I-70 on the east side of Vail Pass. Good idea…until we got just outside of Leadville, that is, when we encountered a detour. We spent an easy half hour getting a scenic tour of greater metropolitan Leadville before getting back onto the highway. Once we did that, though, we dropped back down to I-70 and had a smooth drive the rest of the way to Greeley…arriving at about 1:00 in the morning. Sigh…

Setup on Saturday went pretty well. I found that there were quite a few products brought to or shipped to the National that I wasn’t expecting, so I spent the morning printing new barcode labels, applying them to products, and programming our cash register. Annoyingly, but happily(!), we had customers pestering us about buying products ;) In fact, although we would not “officially” open until Sunday morning, we had an incredible day of selling on Saturday. The rest of the week went pretty well (although the daily buying patterns we were expecting seemed jumbled around).

But Tuesday was The Day From Hell.  Shortly after arriving at the show site on Tuesday morning, we learned that an older gentleman entered in the National had died in his hotel room overnight. It took a long time before we knew all of the facts, but he had won first place in Novice A (obedience) the day before. Unfortunately, the police would not let Colorado Sheltie Rescue take the man’s dog, and called Animal Control! It took a couple more days, but Rescue eventually got possession of the dog and turned him over to his breeder, who was a personal friend of the man’s and would take the dog back “home” to the man’s son. What a tragedy!

But that’s not all! Later in the morning, we heard an announcement over the PA system: “Is there a veterinarian in the building. Please go to the front of the building immediately!” Two people (both vets, it turned out) ran past us at breakneck speed, one with a medical bag. It took a while to sort this out, too, but it turned out that a Sheltie had simply dropped dead outside his family’s motor home!!! The dog was from the central Colorado area, so altitude wasn’t a problem. The motor home was air-conditioned, so heat wasn’t a problem. To this day, I have not yet found out what happened, but they were going to do an autopsy. Needless to say, his family was absolutely devastated.

Oh, we’re not done, though. Later in the afternoon, there was a funny smell in the grooming area (where the Rescue Booth was located), shortly followed by an announcement: There is a fire in the building. Please walk slowly and calmly to the exit on the south side of the building. Guys, I gotta tell you, I’ve never seen so many people pitch in and help one another. As I emptied the cash register of cash into plastic bags (with help from other people at the booth), countless volunteers – breeders, conformation exhibitors, performance exhibitors, observers – flew into action to remove every dog from its crate or pen, on leash, and get them outside safely! I grabbed the three laptops we were using at the booth, too, and headed outside.

You’d think that would be enough excitement, but that’s not to be. During the exodus, a woman slipped on a piece of slick plastic, fell, and broke her arm! To make matters more personal, the woman was scheduled to handle in the conformation ring, Dorothy Christiansen’s dogs. (Dorothy is the National Sheltie Rescue coordinator.) Jeez, what a day, eh?

But we’re still not done! Later that afternoon, we got a report that a dog, newly purchased by an older woman at the show, had slipped from her hands at one of the show hotels across town and had gone missing. Colorado Sheltie Rescue flew into action, but had no luck finding the dog. We learned later that evening that somebody (don’t know who) had finally recovered the dog for the woman.

Wow!

Happily, the universe got tired of messing with us and the remaining days of the National were disaster-free.

And, better yet, the Rescue Booth took in a grand total of just over $14,000! Of that, National sold about 45%, Sheltie Rescue of Utah  sold about 35%, and a dozen more rescues split the remainder in various ratios. (Of course, that’s hardly all profit, as we all had to pay for the product that we sold, but it’s still really great.)

On the Sunday after the National was over, we drove back to Utah in a two-vehicle convoy. The other vehicle was driven by our friends Tom and Annette McNaughton from Southern Nevada Sheltie Rescue (sort of near Las Vegas), who had very kindly agreed to fill their trailer with loads of our left-over product that otherwise wouldn’t have all fit into our vehicle!

Whew!

In another post (soon, I hope), I’ll tell more about the Rescue Booth, all of the wonderful people who helped out, and more. I’ll also tell you about the Utah Valley Kennel Club cluster ending today in South Jordan, UT, where Barbara and a huge crew of volunteers have been running a fantastic raffle, microchipping dogs, and selling more product.

On this day..

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