From the Editor

Home Away from Home

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As my plane touched down at the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport in Michigan, I couldn’t help but think: I’ve come a long way. Sure, I’d traversed the 2,000-plus miles from South California to this charming Midwest town for the United Kennel Club Premier, but this was also my first journey representing the magazine at a national dog show. My stomach tightened. Could I do this?

Over the past five years I’ve been an editor for Dog World, my canine knowledge has grown by leaps and bounds. From having only a hazy understanding of the difference between a toy dog and a terrier, now I (like any self-respecting dog magazine editor) can immediately identify almost any dog’s breed in 2 seconds flat, and I can organize a canine photo shoot like nobody’s business. Aside from acquiring these skills, I’ve learned that even with the wonderfully diverse body of people that makes up the dog fancy, there are certain characteristics shared by individuals in the dog show world. These include: an uncompromising standard of excellence, a can-do attitude that puts the seven dwarves to shame and an unfailing love for dogs.

Now, that last one seems obvious, but it’s worth mentioning. No matter where you are, from California to Michigan to France to Taiwan, the pure love of dogs is what propels this sport and brings people together every weekend to show their dogs and talk shop. But how did I fit in? I never considered myself (nor should I have) a hard-hitting journalist.

As soon as I stepped out of the car onto the grounds of the UKC Premier, I knew my initial anxiety was for naught. I felt the excitement and camaraderie in the air, and I couldn’t wait to tour the grounds, watch the dogs compete in all the events and meet the “real people” welcomed by the UKC’s motto, “Real Dogs, Real People.” Without fail, owners were happy to let me snap pictures of their dogs and interview them. UKC President Wayne Cavanaugh and Vice President of Media Tanya Raab graciously showed this first-timer around the grounds even while bustling to make sure the event ran smoothly.

To top it off, a judge for the Top Ten Invitational and the Junior Handler competition, William Sahloff, while waiting for the next dog to enter his ring for examination, walked over and asked my colleague and me how we enjoyed our dinner. It turns out, he’d seen us dining in the hotel restaurant. Talk about warm hospitality!

By the end of the weekend, a town 2,000 miles from Southern California didn’t seem so far. In fact, I felt right at home.

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