23 August 2012

Rhodesian Ridgeback World Congress Day 1

Our first day of World Congress felt very much like the first day of any level of schooling I've ever undertaken. Despite the fact that we'd met a few fellow Ridgeback folk  the night prior at the optional 'Ice Breaker' out in the courtyard. A lovely Australian couple Vicki Maritz and Russel Glenn of Ujamaa Ridgebacks, also Rens Trappel of Vizara Rhodesian Ridgebacks, and another couple from the UK whose names elude me (despite the neat little badges we were all provided). It was with great anticipation, and a healthy dose of unsureness that we made our way downstairs and into the sizable conference center.

The tables filled with blankets, quilts, shirts, books, and cups were an expected site, and helped to ease the nerves a bit. We waded through the growing crowd, window shopping as it were, before heading inside and finding some seats.

First up, were Olive Taylor, the President of the Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of Canada, and Diana Pethick, the Chair of the Organizing Committee with the opening remarks. Welcoming us to this the eighth World Congress and laying down the groundwork for how the rest of the day was expected to go.

Next was Jo Dunn, who did a marvelous job at regaling us in the history of the Rhodesian Ridgeback here in Canada. All the way from Ridgie, the very first Ridgeback in Canada, through the establishment of the various clubs, the acceptance of the Breed in the Kennel Club, and into today. This was of particular interest to me, given that I've recently done quite a bit of research in this regard, only with the history of how the Ridgeback came to the USA.

Next on the Agenda, was, quite possibly, the most controversial topic of the entire Congress. (Of course I say that now, having not even gone through day 2 yet..) Liz Megginson bravely and stalwartly led and facilitated a discussion on reaching a worldwide consensus on the Breed Standard. This topic quickly became one of much contention, as you might be able to manage. Change is something not a lot of people welcome in life, your Author being one of those people. Near as I can tell, this debate was brought about by an entity known as the FCI. From what I gather, the FCI is not currently satisfied with the state of our Ridgeback Breed Standard, and has requested that it be expanded upon and made more specific. Resistance from the crowd was met at most of the proposed changes. The mantra "Change for the sake of Change" was tossed out on a number of times, while others felt it best to simply 'Educate the Judges' rather than to change the standard. All in all, the segment ran long, and I think, accomplished little.

A much needed coffee break followed, and then Linda Costa took the stage.  She wasn't introduced as such, but she might as well have been called the RR Historian. Perhaps the 'Dogfather' of the Ridgeback. Her segment was rife with information on the history and foundation of the Breed. From its origins in Southern Africa all the way through its migrations to Europe and the Americas. Some of it I was aware of from my previous research, much of it was completely new information. I think my furious note-taking awarded me some sidelong glances, but this was why I came here. To learn about Ridgebacks, from the people who have devoted their lives to Ridgebacks. I was disappointed when Linda's segment was over. It's been said that copies of her book 'Rhodesian Ridgeback Pioneers' are being sold here. I'm mulling over the notion.

Before we broke for lunch, we were treated with a Showcase of this years Top Canadian Champions. And while it was fun to watch the gorgeous Ridgebacks parade around the center and stack in a line for photographs, I must admit I hadn't planned on paying too much attention. Until number two, BPIS Can. Ch. Charisma's Mischief Managed w/ Coso was read off. I heard one word garbled through the microphone and not drowned out by the music, and that was Invictus. I said in my head, (I know Invictus dogs! and started snapping photos. Evidence below:) After the showcase and before we broke for lunch, we stopped by to speak with Atlas' handler and to meet the #1 Ridgeback Puppy in all of Canada. An honor for sure.

After lunch, we returned and settled in for a two part presentation by Orit Nevo. First up was the great Sight Vs Scent debate. Followed by a profile of Ridgebacks in her home country of Israel.  After that, Dr. Chris Zink stole the show with her presentation titled : Peak performance: Canine Athlete. Not only was Dr. Zink an eloquent public speaker, but she was incredibly knowledgeable in her field and very well prepared. She held the audience easily as she presented her points in as close to laypersons terms as one could ask for and dribbled in enough humor to soften the edges of some of her more controversial points.The largest of which being the health concerns of spaying and neutering our pets. Most specifically the outdated practices that continue for no other reason than this is what we've always done. She presented statistics, studies and information that will cause Bekah and I to take a long hard look at how we will want to proceed with our pets in the future. Certainly a conversation with our Vet Clinic is in order.

We opted to skip Dr. Corey Orava's presentation on Stem Cell research, it had been a long day. Though for what I've gathered it was quite good as well. Later that evening there was a buffet dinner, where we met another two Aussie couples and a couple from Canada. I remember none of their names. (must get better at that).

Anyway, tomorrow promises to be filled with a more medical, health oriented slate of lectures, and we're greatly looking forward to the exposure!

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