Monday, August 5, 2013

Reflections from my first BRAT convention

 There wasn't a moment's hesitation in signing up to attend the BRAT Convention in Dallas this year.  It was a mere six hour drive, just after legislative session ended in Louisiana and an opportunity to meet volunteers that I email with or read postings from all year long.  And when else would I have an opportunity to see 50 basenjis together in one place!?

I want to extend my thanks to our BRAT board of directors, convention chair Rick Reinhold and the convention steering committee for a wonderful job.  I was also amazed and humbled by the number of sponsors and am really grateful for their support of BRAT.

The accommodations at the Embassy Suites were almost too nice for my crew of two(!), but it was a great getaway and a perfect location to interact with caring, passionate and expert basenji volunteers.  As a newbie to the convention (and a relative newbie BRAT volunteer) I wasn't sure what to expect, but there was time to learn, time to relax, and time to play.

I was honored to be asked to write the convention article for The Basenji magazine, and it will appear in next issue.  It lists of a lot of the details about sponsors, convention volunteers, workshop topics, award honorees and other activities. I hope you'll find a copy to read. I imagine we'll provide a link on the blog when it is published.

Today, I want to reflect a bit on what just a gathering means to someone like me, who is in a non-leadership position with this great organization.  It did not matter; I was welcomed with open arms by everyone.  For me the networking was the best part, though I learned a tremendous amount, especially about emergency care for an injured or sick animal, and about Fanconi.  I had never paid close attention to Fanconi, but now, as I await my DNA test on my most recent failed foster, Macy, I am so glad for the opportunity to have heard first hand from Pam Hamilton about how to ensure Fanconi-affected dogs have a quality life.

Being able to let my non-BRAT, Iggy, try the lure course was also a highlight.  He did an admirable job, but like most Bs, he didn't understand the concept of chasing a plastic bag in a circle.  Where's the payback in that?  That fox tail, on the other hand, was a great reward, until, alas, the potential for an unfettered escape proved a stronger temptation.  Thank goodness for our basenji-saavy lure course which prevented such escapes!

But in all honesty, it was the ability to sit and relax or share a meal with an amazing group of passionate volunteers that made this trip memorable and a highlight of my summer.  We are a diverse bunch, brought together merely because we love this quirky, mysterious breed.  I was struck by the wealth of knowledge in the room and the willingness of anyone to say, Yes, when it meant that a basenji could be helped.  The stories that I heard, the expertise that was shared, will impact me in ways our organizers will never understand.  I left renewed and invigorated to continue to help where I can, and I know that if they need me, I'll be only too glad to say, Yes, to pay it forward to help on the next convention committee.

We are all grateful to Mary Muzzlin and her talent with a camera.  The photos in this blog are hers.  She is truly an asset to BRAT!

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