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March 1998 Newsletter, Volume 2. Issue 7

Select an Article

What’s New
InfoDog During Westminster

By Bobby Christiansen

The Infodog web site was a very busy place during Westminster. The new Infodog server hardware and software proved itself and serviced over 23,000 visitors and 778,000 "hits" during Wesminster. Live results were input from the Garden along with the digital photographs of the winning dogs. These results and photos will remain active throughout the year. The Infodog discussion board also provided a unique medium for the fancy to voice their opinions. Watch the Infodog web site for exciting new enhancements this spring. Infodog really does do everything for the exhibitor except take a dog in the ring!

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By Jean Witt

Westminster starts for MB-F long before the day of the show. In a lot of cases the dog that you will end up showing doesn’t have a point at the time - and your thoughts are on vacations - sun tans and the like, certainly not New York.

In the weeks following Westminster, we survey the thirty-five MB-F employees working there, have a meeting and make a list of things that were good, that worked well, things that needed improvement and new ideas for next time.

In addition, a meeting is held in the summer between our Superintendents in charge of the show and the Westminster Kennel Club to discuss any problems, new ideas or suggestions, along with any improvements that can be made.

The text for the premium list arrives in early August and that is when the wheels speed up. It is compiled, set in type and a proof sent to the Club. Like all our shows, it is proofread numerous times by different people to make sure every "T" is crossed and "i" dotted, the judges and addresses listed correctly, judges cross-referenced with AKC’s approval to make sure the judges and the breeds they are to judge are correct. We wait to hear from the Club to see if there are additions or corrections to be made - if so they are made - if not its ready for printing and mailing.

So far sounds like any Dog Show doesn’t it? This is about where the similarities end. Sure it says entries close on December 17 or when the limit is reached. Guess what - it also says no entry can arrive before a certain date and time. This year the magic date was Friday, Nov. 14. Any entry received before 8 A.M. that Friday morning has to be returned. So on Nov. 14 we were ready.

All equipment was double checked the day before. All entry procedures were gone over. Fax machines were disabled and Dial-N-Entry, Rolf and Internet access to Westminster were blocked. Those involved in processing the entries through the front door arrived early. We synchronized watches. At exactly 8 A.M. the Fax machines were turned on, the doors unlocked and the Dial-N-Entry phones could be answered. The delivery people were admitted, single file, and their tubs of mail marked at exact time received - 8 A.M., 8:05, 8:06, etc.

With entries limited to 15 per envelope, there were a lot more envelopes to deal with this year. At times there was more than one person from a delivery service in line. The 8 A.M. - 10 A.M. was the rush period, but entries came in over the next few days. The entries were put in baskets in order of the time clocked in, in the exact order received. Even before the rush was over, people designated to open the mail had started, being very careful to keep everything in order as to time received. The entry department had been put on alert they would all need to stay until 2500 was reached. It was well into the night before they finished.

As always there were lots of duplicates to sort through. No, we do not put the duplicates on then replace them later as some thought. The computer doesn’t allow duplicates if the information is the same, namely the AKC number and dogs name. A number of entries are rejected at this level because they have inadequate information - where the dog finished, the AKC number, the dog’s name and breed. Can you imagine getting in - then being deleted because you or your entry service screwed up? It happens.

This year for the first time ever, you could watch, via our web site, the opening of the doors to receive the entries and see the overnight carriers with their tubs of mail.

The Monday following closing we run a total by judge, so we may give the Westminster press office a preliminary count of those breeds with the largest entries, whether all breeds are represented and if not, which have no entries. We also provide them the number of entries by state.

So now all the entries are on and we get a computer printout of the entries in the show with all the information you listed on your entry. First this is cross-referenced with AKC to make sure the dog has completed his championship. When this is verified the "galley" is proofread against the entry to make sure we have the correct information for the catalog. I helped with some of this and I want you to go back to last month’s Newsletter and read Bob Carlough’s article. If we are close to some of the information it’s because we made a good guess. Some of you must have used your feet to fill these out! We also proof this several times. We must match what’s on the entry form.

While all this is going on other areas are hard at work. All the benching has been pulled out, repainted and repaired where needed and loaded on skids. The stanchions are all checked. As soon as the judging slate is sent to us, ring signs for the judges are made. Also each year we seem to add a new breed so we have to add that for the ring and group signs.

Fred Lyman has already started his "flower arrangement" duties and one of the things he failed to mention in his article last month was the containers. One of the first years we did this show, he asked me to help paint the 28 or 30 containers. I walked in the warehouse and he had them lined up - - white styrofoam pots maybe worth 98 cents at most. My heart just sank and he could see the expression on my face so he told me to wait ‘til I saw the final product. First we sprayed them purple. This made a big difference in their looks and value. Then he wiped on gold paint. Right before my eyes, these containers went from a 98 cent piece of styrofoam to a $25.00 urn. It was amazing!

One of the duties that I am in charge of is hospitality for the rings during the day and to help Fred with hospitality for the MB-F workers the four days before the show. The rings require water, wipes, kleenex, candies, etc. For the workers we need plates, napkins, drinks, coffee, tea, etc. Everything is bought in Greensboro and packed and sent on the trucks. This also includes coffee pots, large coolers, creamer, sugar, towels and the list goes on. Its more than several hours of shopping.

The table cloths for the rings have to be checked and properly packed for the truck ride. The ring bags have to be counted out and new ring tags made for each judge each day. We do this ahead of time so when the rosettes are made the bags are ready to put them in, along with the arm bands, rubber bands, flat ribbons, etc.

In the weeks after entries close and all are verified to be legitimate, the show is benched. Once Junior Showmanship closes in December, the judging program is written. It is now mailed to all the people whose entry was accepted, the judges, stewards and photographers, etc. At this time and before there are always phone calls and letters from those whose entries did not get into the show. It is always hard to tell anyone especially a good friend, their entry didn’t make it for this Super Bowl of dog shows.

The print shop is one of the busy places. There are numerous signs and posters that are only used at this show. The ribbon department is another busy place. They not only have rosettes to make for the days of judging but they make hundreds of flat ribbons for the Awards of Merit and of course, all those special badges.

The last thing printed in the office is the catalog. It is printed - all 10,000, collated, bound and boxed for shipment. After this we are out the door ready to head to New York. Our first trucks, fully loaded left Greensboro on the 9th of February. Some of the crew arrived on the 11th and the rest over 12th and 13th. By the 13th we were all there and had already put in numerous hours getting ready for you.

Sunday night is always a busy night, putting on the final touches, or as much as we can do before the day of the show. Much of the crew is in the Garden overnight as the carpet goes down and the rings go up while most of you are in bed asleep.

On Monday, we are up before dawn making sure we too, are properly groomed to make just the right statement about ourselves and MB-F. We also take a few minutes to reflect on how we have worked so hard on this show, the one the world will watch tonight. Every one of our 100 employees plays an important role in the show’s success. Space does not permit individual mention of those whose work was particularly outstanding but we want them to know they are very much appreciated.

While the City slept, we walked into Madison Square Garden ready to present to you Westminster 1998. There are a few last minute details to attend to - then it starts. We knew there were two full long days ahead of us but we were ready.

On Tuesday night it was all over until next year. As we leave, they are turning out the lights in the arena and tearing down benching in the rotunda, but already, thoughts of ‘99 abound in our heads - new ideas, things that worked well, things that need improvement - I love it. See you in 1999.

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My First Trip to Westminster!

By Chris Belton

When I learned I was flying to New York City, as well as to the Grand Dad of all dog shows, I was totally beside myself. However, before even stepping onto that airplane, the Westminster catalog had to be completed. I am the supervisor of the bindery and mailroom. As a team, we had our work cut out for us. Having mailed the premium lists, judging programs and ID’s, we were already well acquainted with Westminster ’98. But we still had 10,000 catalogs to get out the door.

I was excited about the prospect of taking pictures at Westminster for MB-F’s internet site. Just the thought of me, NYC and Westminster was nerve-wracking enough, but then they started talking three-piece suits and tuxedos! I’m a country boy who lives on a farm with peacocks, chickens and farm chores on a daily basis. I kept thinking my "John Travolta Disco Leisure Suit" was now a collector’s item (even if I could fit into it), not for polite company in the Big City.

Three days before the Big Trip I still did not have my wardrobe together. I made a few phone calls, shopped and my best friend, Kent Woofter, said he had a few dress clothes. Luckily we wear close to the same size, and as long as I didn’t go on an eating binge, I could borrow whatever I lacked at this point. After putting together several items, trying on the "new suits" and deciding which looked best, I looked in the mirror to find my father staring back at me! What a jolt! But I was ready for New York City.

Armed with a Hi-Tech digital camera (and my disposable Instamatic ‘cause you never know who you might see in NYC) I WAS ready.

The plane ride was smooth and enjoyable and, believe it or not, even early. Although I have been to NYC before, I’ve always flown into Newark. This was my first trip into LaGuardia and I was a little nervous, but no problems arose. I arrived safely with my bags and went outside to hail a taxi. Now I really knew I was there.

It was a nice Sunday afternoon when I arrived at the Hotel Pennsylvania. I knew something was different the minute I got through those revolving doors. While checking in I reached to get a mint and just before it was too late realized my "mint" was a doggie biscuit. The hotel was definitely "going to the dogs". I shared the elevator with a Longhaired Dachshund and a drooling Bulldog. I must say, though, most of the four-legged guests were better behaved than the two-legged ones.

My duties didn’t start ‘till the next day, so, after checking in with MB-F, I had the afternoon to roam New York and try not to look like a tourist. I went to Macy’s, the Soho district and the Village, but stayed away from those subways. People went down those stairs and didn’t come back up – not for this country boy. I walked and walked and gave no thought to the fact that my feet were already hurting by the time I returned to the hotel. I slept well though the sounds of crickets were replaced with sirens, horns and dogs howling. Neither the dogs nor I had seen grass!

Alarms went off and 6:00 a.m. found me at my first Westminster Dog Show. This was my first dog show, too, and I wanted to learn all I could.

The benching area was my first taste of this dog show. This area was packed with all the dogs shown on Monday. Being partial to Giant Schnauzers I headed right to their area. I have a Giant that I received from the Giant Schnauzer Rescue Mission about four years ago. I was able to talk with John Taglairino, who helped me get "Rita". He introduced me to Rita’s breeder, Sylvia Hammarstrom. If you are interested in Giants you’ve probably heard her name mentioned. It seemed most of the Giants at Westminster had her bloodlines! This was a real pleasure and a high point for me.

When I walked into the Arena, it was just breathtaking. I was at Westminster!

I met Bob Christiansen at one of the MB-F offices and he introduced me to Chuck Tatham, one of the official photographers for the show. Bobby’s advice: "When you hear Chuck’s camera click, you should click!" I am somewhat of an enthusiast with cameras and video equipment, but this was my first assignment at shooting photos at a dog show.

I followed Chuck around all day. I learned a lot and he was very generous in answering a lot of questions. I thank him for being so patient.

By noontime I had another thought on why Mr. Crowe had asked for me to be there. I kept looking around the floor and up in the stands. Everyone had one of "my" catalogs. What a thrill to see something our department had worked so hard on actually in use at the show. They have a very nice catalog with a leatherette, stamped, embossed cover, and breed dividers. It was looking very elegant in everyone’s hands, but the paranoia suddenly struck….I just knew that if anything was wrong with the catalog I would be lead out into the middle of the Arena with spotlights on me with everyone knowing I am the bindery supervisor it would be "open season". But that feeling passed and the pride soon returned.

By the second day I watched nonchalantly as people were carrying their catalogs around, bending them in half and twisting the backbones. What good work our team does! One of the most rewarding things of the whole trip was seeing everybody get such good use out of a product we had had a hand in putting together.

The beginning of the second day had a bit of a rough start. When my feet first hit the floor my legs protested at this mistreatment. I practically crawled to the shower, but I was ready for the second day and The Big Finish.

Another day of asking questions and learning, meeting people and the excitement that is Westminster.

Groups and Best in Show were just beautiful. I saw the hard work from the set-up to the flowers. Everyone looked their best in their tuxes and gowns. And, it all went as planned, without a hitch.

By Wednesday morning I was about to have "country withdrawal" and was ready for trees, grass and my own Best-in-the-Country dogs, Rita and Katie. I had seen much and learned more. I saw stars, both canine and human (there was that Rod Stewart look-alike whose hair was no match for the Lhasa’s), but my own dogs wouldn’t have anything to do with me until I had washed the smell of "those other dogs" off me – then it was kisses galore!

I couldn’t wait to tell my department what I had seen and experienced. I was also excited to see my photographic work on the net. It was long days and short nights and hard work. Would I go again? Of course!!

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Board Memebers of the AKC Heath Foundation

Several months ago it was decided that the members of the Canine Health Foundation should be introduced to the dog show public. This is the beginning of that plan. Each month we will spotlight two members of the board until all eighteen have been introduced. We feel that you will be quite surprised at the talent and the power of these volunteers in their regular daily lives. We are indeed very fortunate to have such talent within our midst with the knowledge and the willingness to carry out our mission of WORKING TOGETHER FOR THE HEALTH OF YOUR DOG.

This month we will spotlight Mr. John A. Studebaker and Mr. Robert Kelly.

John A. Studebaker and his wife Joanne and Samoyeds live at 8612 N. 35th Street, in Richland, Michigan. He has been active as the Vice President of the Canine Health Foundation for the past three years and we do mean active. He is a spark plug in the promotion of new and workable ideas and responsible for them being put into practice. He has been in dogs for the past thirty years as a breeder, and exhibitor and a judge. He has a positive, methodical, thoughtful approach to problem solving and he is a priority setter. We witness this in every one of our meetings. He is, although retired still playing an active role as a consultant to the several companies in which he has held positions of great responsibility. He is graduateof Ohio State with a Masters degree in Economic Studies and a BS degree in Agriculture. He has also pursued advanced studies in International Management at Northwestern University at Evanston, Illinois.

John is a delegate of the Battlecreek Kennel Club. He is a past president of the Kalamazoo Kennel Club, a past Board Member of the Samoyed Club of America, and he has judged many breed specialties including the National Samoyed Speciality. His particular interest and experience at present is in DNA for sophisticated breeding in live stock, plants and dogs.

An example of why John is so important to our Board is his past experience in industry. From 1957 to 1986 as an employee in research with the Upjohn Pharmaceutical Company he advanced into management as the Manager of U.S. Animal Health Sales. He was promoted to President and CEO of Asgrow Seed Company in 1980-1986, where he increased sales form 103 million to 360 million and employees from 800 to 1200 and took the company worldwide with six international subsidiaries. In 1986 he moved to the presidency of the Agrigenetics Division of the Lubrizol Corporation where he turned an unprofitable business into a very profitable business in a matter of six years. In 1992 Mycogen Plant Sciences of San Diego, California purchased the Agrigentics branch of Lubrizol and John went with the deal as President of Mycogen Plant Sciences. He retired in 1993 and accepted a consultant agreement which continued through 1996. He is still in great demand as a consultant and he travels a great deal in this field of work.

Now you know why the Canine Health Board has such great respect for Mr. John Studebaker. His dedication to animal health and his business acumen are much in demand in our pursuit of Canine Health research. Best of all we get his expertise at no charge as it is with all other members of the board.

Robert Kelly and his wife Jane live at 1344 Mississippi Blvd. in St.Paul, MN. With

a name like Kelly he has to be Irish and he is. He is soft spoken and he has that marvelous wit of the Irish. He is a real pleasure to know and he brings that wit and knowledge to every Health Foundation Board meeting. When he talks we all listen because he has something to say that is relevant and to the point but mixed with a grin and the Irish in him.

Bob is really a self-educated man. He had the ambition to become a designer/engineer. As he puts it "The problem of getting that great product (ambition) to marketplace had many financial roots (big bucks) and it became necessary to concentrate my learning in the marketplace." When he should have been attending seventh & eighth grades he was driving and minding mules in the oil fields of Oklahoma. Again I quote him. "Two years behind the mules; the vista, the aura, the aroma and the training in mediation, behavior modification andvocabulary enrichment were a perfect preparation for business." Oh that Irish wit and how his eyes twinkle when he makes such statements and waits for your reaction. He finally got enough of the education he was looking for by attending high schools in Shawnee, Ok, Dubuque, IA and Rochester, MN. From there to a year at St. Thomas College in St. Paul, MN and one year at the University of Minnesota. He realized his dreams but the balance of his education was self-taught in the marketplace and in the job training within the companies for which he worked. He also attended schools at IBM in White Plains, NY. As DNA has become important he has educated himself to have sufficient grasp of research on DNA and canine genetics to foresee the implications for shaping policies for the handling of DNA in the world of dogs. Along with this he has the practical experience to implement those policies.

In the pursuit of his dream he became a Chief Engineer with a staff of 18 electrical and mechanical engineers designing dry cleaning machinery for the Vic Cleaning Machine Co. His long record of employment really began with the Steiger Tractor company a builder of large, larger and largest tractors. He began as an engineering group leader advanced to Vice President and when Steiger was purchased by W.R. Grace Co. and incorporated into J.I.Case Co. he was made President of J.I. Case and remained in that position until his retirement. He calls it the luck of the Irish. I call it a man with a dream and the determination to live that dream.

He is a dog person having exhibited in obedience and conformation. He is a director in the Land O’ Lakes kennel Club and a repeated show chairman. He is a director in the Dachshund Club of America chairing field trial and tracking committees. He is a director in the Minnesota Dachshund Club and serves as President and Show Chairman. His record in these clubs speaks for itself and stretches over a period of many, many years.

We are very lucky to have such a fine and gentleman on our Board and he too serves for his love of animals especially dachshunds. When you meet him listen carefully, weigh his words and you may hear elves and pixies laughing and chattering in the background for they count him as one of their own and often creep into his wit and humor just to twit his listener audience.

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