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Dog show friends gathered to support her when she learned that her son had just been killed in a tragic accident.


May 10, 2011

Cindy Knox,


It was morning at a Nebraska dog show.  Generally speaking we rise early and this day was no exception only it was a 5:00 AM phone call from my daughter that woke us.


It took quite awhile to get the gist of her hysteria but she was calling to tell me that my son had passed away the night before in a motorcycle accident.  Devastated does not begin to describe.


I was at the show with my handler who I consider a friend and another of my closest friends.  These two great women got out of their beds and held me as I tried desperately to deal with the facts at hand.


My handler told me that all was well and we would leave the show.  After all, nothing was important at a dog show compared to this situation.


I needed to talk to my husband and understand what had happened.  Someone called and we sat on the side of the bed as these women held me up to try to figure out what to do next.  My husband was fairly adamant that I should stay where I was.  The coroner was not going to release my son's body until at least Monday and possibly later. 


My husband finally convinced me that I should be with people who cared about me and that would support me.  He also felt that taking care of my dog was something to occupy my mind even while it was so obviously occupied by other thoughts.  We talked at length and finally, given that my handler had another dog that was a special in another breed, I felt that since I could do nothing else, I would stay.


My husband said I know that you need me and I know that I need you but right now you are with people that love and care about you and there will be all too much time that will be just us.


Staying at the show was difficult.  The first thing you want to do is run home and attend to all those things that need attending.  I was in one state, my daughter was in another state.  My granddaughter at college in another state, my son in law out of the country and my husband and son in yet another state.  My bother, parent and other relatives like many families were all in other states.  Needless to say logistics were complicated but cell phones and the internet allowed us all to be in contact without physically being able to touch each other.  We burned up the phone lines.


But first we needed to dress, feed dogs, potty dogs and get to the show site.  I called my dog by the wrong name 3 times.  The name I called was of my heart dog that had passed away several years ago from heart disease at a young age.  Weird that I would do that but stress is stress.


I had decided not to tell anyone at the show what my situation was as I didn't want to cause a fuss or explain and I knew that there would inevitably be those folks who would make rude comments about why I was there.  We arrived at the show site and the first person I saw was someone who always gives me the best hug.  He is someone you can always count on to be positive and up lifting. 


I went to him and said I could really use a hug right now and he obliged with the best hug and I started crying.  He and I have known each other about 10 years and when he asked me what was wrong.  I blubbered and told him.  Then he started crying because that was the anniversary of his sister's death.  So we cried and hugged and tried out best to support each other.


Naturally, the word got out little by little.  I don't know what I was thinking that it could be a secret to a few select folks.  Besides there was clearly something not quite right with me that day.  I felt so much support from the great folks that were at that show.  Folks who know me and heard would just come up and give a hug or ask what they could do or tell me about their loved one that was gone.


There of course were those folks who wondered what the heck I was doing there but only one had the nerve to make a comment to one of my friends.  I learned later that the person who was asked was very upset and very protective of me.


I'm not sure what I said or did throughout the day.  I know that I cheered my handler on as she won the Group with her special and was pleased at my little boy's performance in the group.  Then we went on to the puppy groups and he took a group 1 and went on to Best Puppy in Show.  It was a very bitter sweet moment and I'm not even sure how I reacted but I like to think that there was a new angel helping this happen.


Folks who were leaving early the next day offered rides but for some reason I decided to stay...  my friends who I had come with were also protective and wanted to make sure that I would be ok and with someone who was supportive.  I had this deadly calm that was disturbing and they were afraid that if I broke down I needed really friendly folks around. 


They were right although the break down did not really come until I held my son's motorcycle helmet and could smell was very primal.


We're coming up on the one month anniversary of my son's death and I still have difficulty comprehending but I know and my husband confirms that staying at the show was the right thing for me.  Maybe not for someone else but for me I was in a bit of a bubble and my brain could subconsciously begin to deal with the reality of what was and what was to come.


Many non-dog folks just plain don't understand and in fact one person told my daughter "The next time someone in your family dies why don't you do to a dog show with your Mom!"  This was completely cruel but at the end of the day you can't tell someone else how to think.


I guess the reason that I'm writing this is to try to get folks to understand that sometimes the dog show IS the place to be with loving and caring folks.  Dog show folks might be petty at times and might be competitive and sometimes not very nice but at the end of the day when there is a tragedy be it human or 4 legged, dog show people leave everything else behind and come together to do what needs to be done. 


This was very clear to me during that weekend and throughout the next week and at my son's services.  The outpouring of support even from heated competitors is very touching.


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