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Tornado Warnings at the 2012 Golden Retriever National Specialty

Photos by Kayla Bertagnolli

Where I live, tornado warnings are not a frequent happening. So when I heard the tornado warning siren at the Golden Retriever National Specialty last week, I wasn’t even positive what it was.

The sky starting to turn as the storm commenced.

Personally, and for everyone else who was at Purina Farms in Gray Summit, Mo., Thursday, September 6, 2012, will be a day we won’t soon forget. Luckily all people and dogs were safe in the end, and the storm passed right on by. But in that 90-minute lockdown, there was some worry in the building.

Things were winding down for the day. The last class, Bred-by Bitches, had just started the first of three groups to be judged when the siren went off. Shortly after, everyone was told to bring all dogs from outside into the building, and for everyone to move into the grooming area. For the most part, people remained calm, but with uncertainty about what was happening, the rush to get dogs out of cars, Sprinters, box trucks and vans was hectic. It was great to see that anyone with free hands was willing to help. After the dogs were in the building, it became a game, for some people, to find their dogs!

Exhibitors and their Goldens seek safety in the hallway.

The whole grooming area and hall space were filled with people and their Goldens. People were wall-to-wall, but not uncomfortable, and some people were even hiding out in the bathroom for safety!

Exhibitors and their Goldens hide out in the bathroom.

Things did start to calm down at around 4:45, and everyone headed back into the show area. With two more groups to be judged, people settled in and everyone in the Bred-by Bitch class anxiously waited for judging to resume. Those exhibitors had to quickly go from, “Holy crap, there’s a tornado warning!” to “OK, I’m showing my dog.” Everyone was great about it and worked well together.

The winner of the Bred-by Exhibitor Bitch class.

Keep in mind that the Top 20 Gala was scheduled to start just hours later outside, under a tent, 1
4 miles from Purina Farms. Many people thought it would be canceled or moved, but it was only delayed and started just hours after the tornado warning. The skies were clear and the location was a perfect setting for the Hawaiian-themed gala.

A group of happy – and relieved – exhibitors.

This is a day I will never forget. It was great to see everyone come together the way they did, providing help when needed. If you were there with me, please share your experience below with our readers.

To view more photos from the Golden Retriever Club of America National Specialty, go to Best In Show Daily’s photo galleries.

Tornado warnings don’t rule, but Dogs Freakin’ Do!

Written by

Kayla Bertagnolli is a 23-year-old from Ogden, UT, who's been involved in the dog show world her whole life. A former junior handler who learned about breeding Beagles from her mother Leah, she assisted several professional handlers and is currently working to become a Junior Showmanship judge. Kayla is passionate about photography and writes the twice-weekly blog, DFR. She plans to continue breeding and showing, and expects to stay involved in dogs "for life!"