Interview with Don Burlett, Show Chair of the 2022 Golden Retriever National Specialty
Congratulations on the success of the 2022 Golden Retriever National Specialty. Now that it’s in the record books, how are you feeling?
Immediately after the Golden Retriever National Specialty, I was personally exhausted. This was a 13-day National and the amount of work that is done on-site for the National keeps you going full-out for the entire time. It has taken a couple of weeks for me to recover, and I think my entire team feels the same way. But, at the same time, the result was a fantastic National where almost everybody had a great time and enjoyed the events we offered. That was the goal of our group and I think we succeeded nicely.
The national was spread over three sites, to enable us to offer the full variety of events. The Conformation site was the Monroe County Fairgrounds in Monroe, Michigan. This site offered an Expo Center for Conformation, another building for the CCA, and an Arena for Performance Events (Agility, Obedience & Rally). For the WC/WCX and Hunt Test, we utilized a site in Williamston, Michigan (Jorgenson’s Farm), that is used quite often for these events. The field trial was held on private property in Fenwick, Michigan, again, a site commonly used for field trials. All of the sites were very nice and all the attendees appreciated the grounds. I must mention that the Monroe County Fairgrounds personnel bent over backwards to make sure that we had everything we needed for our event.
This was my second GRCA National as Show Chair, and it went along very nicely. For the attendees, it was a seamless event with no major distractions. As Show Chair, there were adjustments made “on the fly” and these were handled quite well. We did have one judge not show up, but we had two other judges helping out at the event who were able to step in and keep the show running smoothly. We also had a local TV station stop by to highlight the National at our Parade of Titleholders. This was well received.
What was your role as Show Chair for one of the largest AKC parent club National Specialties? Can you tell us about your team?
My role as Show Chair was to coordinate a team of club members handling all the events and activities as well as the various side tasks that make the event memorable. So, all the events like Conformation, Obedience, Agility, Rally, Conformation Certification Analysis (CCA), Working Certificate (WC/WCX), and the Hunt Tests and Field Trial required event chairs to handle getting premium lists organized, handling entries, and making sure that the judges and all others’ needs were addressed.
Then, there are the support activities that are necessary. Trophies and rosettes are needed for all events. Tailgates, dinners, and lunches for judges and workers are also a big task. Then there are facilities that need to be rented (including tents and buildings) and all the other small jobs, like setting up signage on-site and making sure that hotels and RV spaces are available. Then there’s merchandise to purchase and sell, along with many other fundraising activities. The list goes on and on.
The Cuyahoga Valley Golden Retriever Club was the host club for this National and their members who took on these jobs were terrific. They attended meetings and we worked out coordination on many facets of the National so that it would run smoothly and the attendees wouldn’t notice any issues. I have mentioned the event chairs below and the work that they have done, but the other support activities were also a mountain of work.
Sue Sanvido handled trophies, rosettes, and raffles throughout the event. Kathy Sutliff handled our merchandise both online and at the event. Tara Perby handled the Treasurer activities, writing checks, assembling the budget, and making sure we were adequately funded. Our club President, Vicki White, also did fundraising for the event for a couple of years to assure that we had adequate funds. Andrene Mate-Schabel and Karen Hardy did duty as the Hospitality folks, making sure the dinners and tailgates went off without a hitch. Since we also had to do grooming under tents at the fairgrounds, Cappi Mercer handled the reservations and organization of that area.
Steve Harmon and his family were charged with handling grounds activities, ranging from helping with RVs, arranging for ice, making signs, and doing all sorts of jobs that I needed done. Karen Bodner was in charge of site decorations and she did an excellent job setting the tone for the site with photo ops, banners, and the general dressing of the grounds. Vendors were secured and handled by Megan McClung so that our attendees had a variety of goodies to purchase at the event. Our website was handled by Rob Bedford, and social media (Facebook, etc.) was coordinated by Jen Craig and Rob. Dianne Baker, from the Ft. Detroit GRC, was instrumental in getting raffles handled and helped to coordinate volunteers. All the event chairs and main support people were absolutely vital to the overall success of the event.
In addition to the main events and meals, we also had a variety of other events. A number of health clinics were offered, covering genetics, eye certifications, and heart evaluations. It’s very important to ensure that our Goldens do not have issues with eyes, hips, elbows, heart issues and many other aspects of good health. We are also tracking cancer in dogs and seeing if the genetic make-up of our dogs is connected with certain diseases.
Nothing is more important than having our dogs make sure health was not a major concern. We also had a variety of parades. We had a Parade of Titleholders as part of our Welcome Dinner. The parade was handled by Penny Dreps, providing a chance to honor our dogs and their accomplishments. We also had a Parade of Rescue, coordinated by Lisa Kime of the GRIN Golden Rescue out of Cleveland. Here, we honored those dogs and their owners who take in Goldens that need homes for a variety of reasons. Finally, there was a Parade of Heroes organized by Beth Bernstein of the Morris Animal Foundation (MAF). This parade honored the many dogs involved in the lifetime health program conducted by MAF.
The list of activities and the people who supported them would go on and on. Suffice it to say that it was a group effort and all deserve credit for their hard work.
How were the Conformation entries this year? Performance entries? Hunting/Field Trial entries? WC/WCX entries?
I got to see tidbits of the Conformation ring while I was handling emergencies here and there. It ran very smoothly, with the judges doing an excellent job sorting through the dogs. During the Sweepstakes and Top 20 competitions, I was busy through much of this portion of the show, but I understand that the dogs were very nice and the judges were impressed. The Top 20 event went very well.
The performance events ran very smoothly, even if the surface used was dirt in an arena on the fairgrounds. The dogs performed very well and the judges were impressed with the Goldens as a group.
Entries in the various events were strong again this year. Conformation had 1,013 entries in the various classes. Agility had over 600 entries. Obedience had 283 entries. Rally had 290 entries, while the CCA had 48 entries. The Field Events were also strongly represented with 258 Field Trial entries: 129 WC/WCX entries and 209 Hunt Test entries. We felt the entire event was well received and participation was strong for the breed.
Were there educational opportunities at this year’s National? Judges Education? Breeder Education? Opportunities to Mentor?
There was a Breed Judges Seminar this year to mentor potential judges on the breed. Barbara Pepper conducted this seminar for those interested. GRCA also had an educational seminar at the National concerning genetics.
The Golden Retriever is an iconic breed, known around the world for its many fine qualities as a companion at home and in the field. Based on this year’s National, would you say the breed is well positioned for the future? Any cause for concern?
I’d say the breed is doing very well, with many dogs showing skills in many areas. Watching the Field Events was enlightening, as the dogs showed such great hunting skills. It’s also good to see so many dogs showing the ability to show in Conformation and then go out and retrieve with such skill. And the Conformation ring showed us a large number of very nice Goldens that will keep us happy about the breed’s future.
2022 Golden Retriever National Specialty Results
Best of Breed
Gchp CH Micin’s Broxden Riesling To The Occasion CGC. 2012-12-06. By GCHP CH Easthill Broxden Woodland Lettuce Entertain You x CH Micin’s Skye’s The Limit. Bred by: Cindy Fisher/Phil Booth/Amy Rodrigues. Owned by: Luiz Fernandes/Deborah Salow/Kevin Foist/Cindy Fisher/Amy Rodrigues/Joe Ovalle.
Best of Opposite Sex
CH Maximus Catalina At Grandquest. 2020-10-11. By GCHB CH Goldrox Sunnydreams Fire Starter x CH Golden Trip Maximus Fabulous Dorah. Bred by: Alejandro Lima/Marcos Nishikawa. Owners: Alejandro Lima/Janice Granda/Michelle Granda.
GCHS CH SUNKOTA CASEY’S OFF TO DUBLIN. 2018-06-30. By GCH CH Sunkota’s Do The Math x CH Casey’s Bee Sharp. Bred by: Diane Casey. Agent: Kristin Lyons. Owned by: Cathy Story.
CH TOP PRIDE’S HIGH ROLLER V ALRISTAR. 2018-07-24. By GCH CH Tangleloft Take The Money N Run x GCH CH Ocean Palace’s The Love Of Your Life. Bred by: Min-ho Song. Owned by: Minho Song.
Field Trial – Open All-Age Stake
Duso’s Baker’s Dozen, Brenda Lokey
Amateur All-Age Stake
Rippling Run Abracadabra Shazam QA2, Caroline (Kine) Torinus
Topbrass Hawks Maple Leaf, Ernie Hawkins, Elizabeth Hawkins
Firemark What’s Knox to Like, Melanie Foster
Audeo Rio’s Warp Speed, Ann Lynn
Highest Scoring Dog in Regular Classes
Open B, OTCH2 Wildwings Working On The Weekend UDX6 OGM SH, K. Smith/W. Smith
Highest Combined Score in OB and UA/UB
MACH Thunderstruck Highroller Hottie UD OM1 RN MXS MJS OF, K. Kosinski/R. Clark
Highest Triple Score in ADVB/EXCB/MASTER
OTCH Twincreek’s Chess Master At Witrin UDX4 OM6 BN RE AX AXJ, L. Mitchell
Highest Combined Score in ADVB/EXCB
OTCH Twincreek’s Chess Master At Witrin UDX4 OM6 BN RE AX AXJ, L. Mitchell
2022 Golden Retriever National Specialty Photo Gallery
Photos Courtesy of Don Burlett, Phyllis Ensley and UpClosePhoto.com/Mark L. Atwater.