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2010 ASSA National Post-Mortem

Whew!

The 2010 ASSA National Shetland Sheepdog Specialty dog show is over and we’re back at home. Actually, it was over almost a week ago and we got home very late Sunday night, 21 March, after a long but beautiful drive home from Tucson on mostly 2-lane blacktop roads. We’ve spent this week doing a bunch of things, mostly related to finishing up or recovering from the National. We haven’t done our formal post-mortem (a superb tradition for recognizing problems and finding ways to avoid them for future projects), but we’ve done a lot of thinking and I thought it might be OK for me to blog about the National at this point.

The 2010 National was considerably smaller in almost every way than previous Nationals we’ve attended. For example: There were only a dozen vendors instead of the normal 20 to 40. Agility had a total of 55(!) entries, instead of the more normal 150 to 250. The Obedience classes did not even fill! And the National Sheltie Rescue Booth made a grand total of $10,300 in sales, compared to the more normal $12,000 to $13,000.

Oh…come to think of it, that wasn’t as big a disaster as we’d been thinking. For some reason, I’ve been thinking that we sold over $15,000 last year, but a re-check of my records shows that last year was just barely over $13,000 in sales, so this year was not all that bad, considering. On the other hand, Sheltie Rescue of Utah sold just over $2,000 worth of goods, compared to our more normal $3,500 to $5,000, so it was really down for us.

Our regular readers will already know that Barbara’s laptop was stolen Wednesday afternoon…right out of the Sheltie Rescue Booth! What kind of pond scum steals from a charitable organization!?! To make matters worse, after we got home and I started working on the financial paperwork for the Rescue Booth (to figure out exactly how much money each rescue group selling product at the Booth made), we discovered that we were missing a large number of credit card slips from customers!

Barbara spent Wednesday morning at the hotel, where we had a WiFi connection, processing credit card slips from the first four days of the National. When she was done, she’d successfully processed a bunch of those slips, but several had not gone through. So she came back to the National so we could start tracking down the people whose cards hadn’t gone through, and then her laptop was stolen!! And all of those slips — processed and unprocessed — were in her laptop case when it was stolen! Argh!

After some analysis, we figured out that the great majority (about 40) of the missing slips had been processed successfully, but she recalls that there were a handful, maybe three to six, that had not gone through.

Knowing that our customers’ credit card information was now potentially exposed, we’ve spent the last several days trying to track down contact information for them. Of course, we know only the names of the customers for only those cards that were successfully processed. And we know nothing at all about the customers whose cards didn’t go through! That means that we can’t even find them to warn them that their information may be exposed. It also means that the money those slips represent is lost (to us, at least) forever. Happily, I’ve been able to prove that it amounts to a total of less than $300, so it’s not a disaster.

Everybody has been very understanding about this faux pas and has been very sympathetic to our loss, in spite of the potential problems they might have as a result. In fact, one of those “victims” told Barbara just an hour or two ago that he is willing to replace her laptop as a donation!!! Sheltie people are absolutely the best!

During the course of the week of the National, and the following week as we processed the results, we’ve exposed some shortcomings in our procedures. These will require better training of our cashiers in the booth (that would be mostly me, Barbara, and often our two pals from Southern Nevada Sheltie Rescue, Tom and Annette McNaughton, but this year included Janell Lowman from Mid-Arizona Shetland Sheepdog Club Rescue). We’re also going to have to pay much closer attention to careful recording of certain data at the end of every day when we close up the booth.

As always, we thoroughly enjoyed seeing our friends and meeting loads of Shelties. Our happiness was, of course, tempered by the loss of the laptop and the time (and effort) taken to make police reports, scour the entire convention center and hotel in case we’d just misplaced it, etc. But I really have to say that we enjoyed the National almost as much as we always do. We did seem to be much more easily tired this time, but that might have had something to do with the fact that we seemed to have dinner meetings almost every evening.

As we reported earlier, Tommy had a wonderful time participating in the carting demo and being an “education dog” in the Rescue Booth. Abby also had a great time being our official greeter in the Booth, meeting dozens of new people and Shelties. Both of them act like they’d like to take off for another trip just like that one (now that they’ve caught up on their sleep, that is).

On a much sadder note, today was Sage’s last day. It was clear ever since we got back that she was declining. She’d quit eating while we were gone and spent the last 3 or 4 days of our trip at the vet’s, which she hated doing. She was so glad to see Barbara when she went to pick Sage up and bring her home, and she was so happy to be home. But she was in severe liver failure, even to the point of becoming jaundiced. So we made the difficult decision that today was her last. She lay in my arms with Barbara kissing her pretty muzzle when the last injection entered her bloodstream and she gave that final sigh before falling asleep forever. She was with us for about five months, after Barbara picked her up at a shelter wondering if she would even survive the drive home, never mind survive the first night here. She’s one of those dogs we’ll remember for a very long time! RIP, sweet Sage. Sage

On this day..

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9 comments to 2010 ASSA National Post-Mortem

  • So so sorry to hear about sweet Sage. But as you well know, those five months she had with you were most likely the most love-filled months of her life. With you she had safety and warmth and dignity and love.

  • Harleysmom

    I know how much it must have hurt to lose Sage. When you care so deeply for someone so special who needed you so much, it’s hard to let go. We always know when it’s time, however sad it may be. It’s a gift we give them, to ease their way. I know Sage appreciated and loved you both.

  • Kim and Dan

    I am very sorry that Sage is gone. Thank you for making the last months of her life happy and comfortable.

  • Thank you for letting us all know about sweet little Sage. I am so glad we got to meet her. You two are gentle angels for Shelties and I can imagine Sage felt so safe and loved as she departed. Thank you for all you do. SSj

  • DeBoys and Me

    We too are very sorry to hear about Sage. Although, we have never meet we know how hard it is to loose one of our babies. May you continue to do the wonderful things you do for our Sheltie’s in need by providing your LOVE.

  • DeBoys and Me

    On the lighter side, tell us more about Tommy’s Carting Demo!

  • Re: Sage

    Sage’s facebook sponsor, Fontaine Moore, wrote this comment about dear little Sage’s demise:

    Fontaine Moore March 29 at 9:54am Report
    Even though I never met Sage, I cried like a baby when I read this. I knew she didn’t have a lot of time left, but thought it would be longer than this. I hope that my small donation did make a difference in the quality of her last months and am grateful that someone as compassionate as Barbara was taking care of her. If there’s a doggie heaven, I’ve no doubt that Sage will be there. I could somehow feel the sweetness of her soul.

  • britt

    I am so sorry to hear of sage passing on.She sounded like she was such a sweet dog.I agree with the Bobbie and the others.Thank you for her rescue and giving her the five months of her life she spent with your love and care.

  • Sharon, how can I contact Fontaine Moore? I confess that I didn’t know Sage had a facebook sponsor, and I don’t know how to follow up. I’d really like to send her a note thanking her for her donation and also for her comment. I know that Sage would want me to thank her.

    Britt, Patti, Bobbie, Julene, Kim & Dan: Thanks for your kind comments. Frankly, dogs like Sage are among the prime reasons why we do what we do. It’s hard as hell to lose them, which we know is inevitable, but it’s so rewarding to know that they feel loved and cared for and safe and comfortable. We consider ourselves fortunate beyond description to have had dogs like Sage and Chuy/Chewie and so many other “hopeless” cases live with us and teach us so much about love and life.

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