Flying into Chicago O’Hare in February caused me to worry! The city’s usual snowy, cold winter weather could cancel my flight. It would be devastating to miss judging the Chicagoland Shetland Sheepdog Specialty Show. Even worse, I would not get to judge the club’s annual Homemade Dessert Contest!
My fears were for naught! Club President, Cheren Waller, welcomed me at the airport bringing wonderfully warm, sunny weather! During the drive to the Marriott she delighted me with stories of showing Shelties under my father, Roy Ayers, when the breed was still part of the Working Group. My trip was off to a perfect start!
Chicagoland Shetland Sheepdog Specialty held their first club meeting during the Chicago International Dog Show. Several years later their first Specialty Show and Obedience trial took place on June 18, 1966, at the Barrington Park District Field House. Club officers were as follows:
Mrs. Alane Gomez
Mr. Gerald Carey
Presently a Lifetime Member
Mr. Charles Hessler
Mrs. Judith Barnett
Mr. Sherman R. Hendrickson
Board of Directors
Mrs. Marjorit Bennett
Mr. Al Lubin
Miss Ardis Lubker
Mrs. Barbara Thompson
Mr. Fred Lenz
By March of 1963, the club published its very first newsletter called Inside CSSC, edited by Sherman Hendrickson of Tiree Hall Shelties. By June 15, 1963, members put on their first CSSC B and OB Match in Libertyville with an entry of over 70 Shelties. Mrs. June Korenko, Bagerton Kennels of Ohio, was the breed judge. Ten dogs were entered in Obedience, judged by Mrs. E. M. Roster. Taking home the ribbons that day were Moribrooks Royal Heritage for Best In Match and Classic’s I’m Invaluable was the High Scoring dog. By November 24, 1963, the club’s new Constitution was adopted.
By October 10, 1964, at Quaker Oats Farm in Libertyville, the first A and OA Match took place. The entry was 57 dogs with 61 entries.
The third specialty was held at the Kane County Fairgrounds on June 8, 1968. Sweepstakes were added and exhibitors proved it to be an instant hit with 31 entries.
Mirroring the first and second shows, again this was another five-point major. The Sweeps entries continued to be huge all through the ‘60s to the ‘80s, with as many as 50 plus Sweeps entries. In the ‘90s entries began to decrease.
The Oakview Pet Resort in Wauconda is today’s show site for CSSC and it is the perfect place. Two specialties were judged on Saturday, March 29, with yours truly, Linda Ayers Turner Knorr, judging the morning show and the club’s favorite son, Brian Cleveland, judging the afternoon event. On Sunday, March 1, Marjorie Tuff was the breed judge.
When I realized Grace Szczurek would be judging the Sweepstakes on Saturday morning, I was beyond thrilled! She was a young Junior showing under me in years past. To see her all grown up, gorgeous and still contributing so much to her breed and the sport is a dream come true. Pam Korcek judged the Sweepstakes on Sunday.
Chicagoland’s current officers are: President, Cheren Waller; Vice President, Penny Brcichi; Recording Secretary, Karen Schaubel; Corresponding Secretary, Connie Giancinto. Board Members include Dr. Vana Bowen, Loretta Lazzara and Heidi Peterson.
When Life Member Linda Kunicki contacted me requesting that I judge the Best Dessert In Show contest, I quickly replied, “YES”, as I feel highly qualified for this competition! I later learned that this special event was won by her mother, Rose Zielinski, two years in a row and it continues to this day in honor of Rose.
For over 25 years, Rose Zielinski was mainly in the Sheltie world as “The Raffle Lady”. From 1987 until 2013, she sold raffle tickets to many at the annual CSSC shows and at the 1997 ASSA National. At first, Rose just did this as a volunteer for seven years. Then in 1994, CSSC honored Rose for her service by making her a Lifetime Honorary Member. Even in 2014 and 2015, when she could no longer attend the shows, she had to know the results. Rose wanted to be sure that “regulars” continued to purchase raffle tickets. Even though Rose couldn’t be there in person, she was there in spirit!
While she owned Shelties over the years, Rose was never a dog show person. Only once did she enter a dog show ring. The occasion was for the Parade of Veterans at the 1997 National Specialty with her beloved “Cory”, Ch. Starlite’s On The Move, from her daughter Linda Kunicki’s kennels.
When Rose was a young girl she lived on a farm. Her family owned a Shetland Sheepdog named Trixie. One day Rose was sent to the fields to do some chores where the family bull was grazing. The bull felt disturbed and charged after Rose. She ran, but the bull was in hot pursuit. Suddenly, Trixie came running and distracted the bull while Rose was able to get out of the field. Rose always felt that her Sheltie, Trixie, saved her life, so she repaid that act by her service to the Chicagoland Shetland Sheepdog Club.
Known for their fabulous hospitality, great raffles, awesome buffet luncheons, and out of sight desserts, the hard working members of the club also added an important educational experience. Following the afternoon show judged by Sheltie great Brian Cleveland, members and exhibitors were invited to participate in a Breed Discussion and Dinner moderated by longtime breeder Julie Desy of Ilemist Kennels. Questions were collected throughout the day on index cards and Julie asked members of the panel to respond. As the Specialty judge, I was joined by Linda Guihen, and Tracy Gensler to make up the panel. Judge Brian Cleveland was ill and could not stay for the discussion.
I invited two young handlers to join me. Tommy Giacinto and Chrissy Thompson, who had shown their exhibits to perfection, were all ears as the panelists responded to questions. Youngsters like Tommy and Chrissy should be encouraged as they are the future of our sport.
The last time our nation was stunned as we are now was after the tragedies following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and again following 9/11. Then as now there was a pall over the nation. We are afraid, lost, uncertain. The part that makes these times so challenging is the uncertainty of it all. It is nearly impossible to not get lost in worry and anxiety.
Because this current challenge, like all before, will eventually pass, let us ask ourselves this question: Will we emerge from this experience stronger and better? While we cannot change what is happening with this rapidly spreading Coronavirus, we can control how we react. We must not lose ourselves in worry. May we not be weakened, but instead challenge ourselves to become stronger.
While we cannot control the impact and length of this situation, we can control how we react to it. Let us count our blessings and draw closer to our friends and loved ones. I pray that we will endure and come forth victorious when we reach the other side. While our sport faces challenges during these unprecedented times, may we remain unified through our faith and band together in the face of this global health pandemic.