Convention Hugs

By Laurie Stroupe

I’ve just about decided that the real reason I stay in rabbits is the hugs. As exciting as a win is, it’s the hugs we share that make the most difference in my life.

I just returned from the ARBA National Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana. It was a record-setting convention with 1360 Holland lop entries in open alone. My youth friends tell me there were over 100 entries in most of their classes. My mini-rex friends reported 1800 + open entries.

All told, that adds up to a lot of hugs.

There are hello hugs.

Convention is wonderful for seeing people you only get to see once or twice per year, if you are lucky. Sure, we email back and forth, and we participate in some of the same groups on Yahoo! but you can’t hug through those.

And of course, some of the hello hugs are also nice-to-meet-you hugs. I got a great hug from Cheri Bushee. It really didn’t matter that she only recognized my face and didn’t know my name. The hug came first.

There are celebration hugs. When I found out that The Nature Trail’s Rio took first place in the broken senior buck class, I was so happy to be surrounded by friends. And I got my hugs. How lonely the win would have been without them. I also got to celebrate with many people who did well this past week. A few of us are not on first-hug basis yet, but many are.

There are second-hand hugs. My friend Susan was not able to make Convention this year, so I got two from her husband Gary. “That one’s from Susan,” he said.

There are hugs of support.

 Convention is long. Convention is stressful. Convention is tiring. And things happen during the week. One of my friends lost an elderly family member during Convention. Another witnessed a rabbit in pain from an injury. Feelings were hurt. The hugs of support help us to make it through.

I took too many pre-sold rabbits to Convention (28 rabbits in all – didn’t I say after Nationals I wouldn’t do that again?), and I was already worn out by the time I got them cooped. A man walked up to me and told me that his wife had sent him over to give me a hug because I looked like I needed one. I looked over his shoulder and saw my friend Lynda, grinning. I had only met him once before, I knew his wife and I didn’t recognize him, but what a nice way to get reacquainted.

And then there are good-bye hugs. 

That’s our last chance to tank up until we meet again. They may be sadder hugs – hugs that help us let go of the excitement of the week. Or they may be “one for the road” hugs. I know I went home full of hugs. I’m physically depleted, but emotionally filled up.

If you saw March of the Penguins, you may have been struck as I was by the huddled mass staying close together to weather the storm and keep warm. The birds in the middle of the crowd keep the warmest. But all of the penguins rotate so that each gets to spend some time in the middle of the group.

It is very warm in the middle of a friendly group of Holland breeders. But I hope we never get to enjoying the warmth so much that we forget the ones on the outside looking in, feeling a bit chilly. We each need to spend some time going out to new people, people who have not connected or met others yet, and pull them in to the middle, where they can experience the warmth of this wonderful group of people in the middle of our wonderful hobby.