A DECADE AGO DOG SHOW
The judges, the handlers, and all who made the Cherokee Rose Cluster in Atlanta a pre-Garden destination of hospitality and camaraderie are an inspiration today.
July 2015 update, from Feb 2005
The Cherokee Rose Cluster, Feb. 4th thru 6th, is a great place to get all "warmed up" for the Garden. Atlanta is almost always blessed with sunshine, and is surely one of the warmest, friendliest shows in the country. This cluster is where you polish your promising puppy and meet your friends to plan the trip to New York for the Westminster dog show.
It's not a glamorous dog show (in the Atlanta Exposition Center a block off I-285) but it is a great place to relax while competing for major wins under top judges. Even if you've never been there before, the directions are accurate and easy, parking is close to the building with adequate hookups and security is ample and surprisingly courteous and helpful.
Best of all, the judging panel is always superb! Bob and Jane Forsyth held court right in one of the food courts, to the delight of everyone. The first show was Sawnee Mountain KC presided over by Kay Allred and a great support team that includes Ann Hearn, Richard Kerr, Jim Bairaktaris, and Keith Bates.
Saturday belonged to Conyers KC headed by Don Watson who cheerfully accepts the tough job of parking. He must hand pick the people who help because year after year, it goes smoothly in spite of oversized rigs and frayed patience.
Jackie Dilworth, Ruth Tatum, Paula Ayers, Rhea Spence, and Chris Miller make it all happen, including the much-anticipated Scoops At Groups! Did I mention that these clubs have the absolute best variety of food concessions we have ever experienced? And they are packed all day long. In the best southern tradition, no one goes away hungry from these shows.
Sunday is hosted by Lawrenceville KC and President Tom Kahn, ably assisted by Asa Mays, Latresa Fowler, Mary Woulfe, and Maria Caudill. Show Committee is chaired by Pat Martinchich. "Breakfast Is Served" is a welcome phrase, thanks to the kennel club and Purina. This dog show cluster is true southern hospitality.
Everyone loves Jimmie Phillips. He was always there to help fellow exhibitors and as Onofrio's point man, he's just as willing to help with any confusion or problems that could spoil someone's day. By the way, if you think Jimmie's tie is great, you should see his big Dodge "Eagle" truck - if it hasn't been sold already. Sadly, Jimmie passed away August of 2011.
Did I mention the judging panel? Sure I did but in case you thought we were spoofing you, I have to mention just a few of the judges we missed getting snapshots of. Hadn't seen Don Booxbaum or Elaine and LaMar Mathis in ages but they stayed busy both in and out of the rings. It might have been the "couples" weekend because Dr. and Mrs. Gerard Penta were there looking equally happy and healthy.
Hmm, now that I think of it, there was an abundance of Doctors, from Dr. Wanda Spediacci to Dr. Harry Smith. In fact, we did get Dr. Smith in camera range as he chatted with one of the most fashionable lady judges of dogdom, Betty Leininger.
And speaking of fashion, our most favorite photographer, who wasn't feeling well and missed a dozen more people we wanted to share with you, couldn't resist this Chihuahua lover's casual attire.
We love to visit with Jack and Joyce Edney and this time we made Joyce stand still for ten seconds. Most such tops are comfy but not great representations, leave it to the Edney's to chose type!
The show was stewarded by The Dixie Professional Stewards. They are all about courtesy, class, and helping both judges and exhibitors.
And the last clear shot he was able to get before heading back to the motor home, well, it says it all. It's about being consistently on top, being the envy of some and the friend of anyone who truly loves dogs. It's about why some people deserve to win and why some people just don't get what dog shows are supposed to be about.
You see him standing quietly in the background, almost always with a dog. A young would-be handler once asked me who was that guy that Jim Moses (now judging) seemed so glad to see after having just escaped the photo-crowd surrounding him and Ginny after Best In Show.
followed her finger and couldn't help smiling. "Oh he's just one of those people that support the sport from the whelping box to the Best In Show Ring."
My friend of three minutes still didn't get the picture. "Hey, do you think he needs a handler for that Dane?"
I cancelled the reply that first came to mind. "No, that's Don Wood and see that pretty lady next to him, that's his wife Betty Lou. Get the picture honey?"
Let's hope she did and that some day she will contribute to the sport.