In light of the weighty topics I’ve been covering lately (a difficult thing to sustain for a self described humor writer), the thought occurs to me that by taking a lighter approach in writing about the Eukanuba National Dog Show, the impression might be formed that I’ve abandoned topics with “gravitas.” I haven’t, at least not forever. I’ll be coming full circle before I’m done with this series because of a niggling feeling I’ve had about the dog fancy being at a tipping point, but I’m still “processing,” so bear with me as I make sense of my impressions. Wherever my final thoughts take me, I want to paint a vivid picture of the last week so you can see the genesis of my thinking. One of us should have it.
It was Disneyland for dog lovers.
I can think of no other event remotely similar to the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship in its scope: In less than a week and under one roof, the Orange County Convention Center hosted dock diving competition, demonstrations by Canine Companions for Independence Assistant Dogs, Soccer Dogs, Police/military K-9s, Flyball dogs, appearances by Modern Family dogs, “Stella” and “Suburgatory’s’ Yakult,” as well as by “Twig” and “Chili,” the Skateboarding Shelties. The Olate Dogs, winners of America’s Got Talent, were there, too. Fanciers and competitors participated in the AKC Agility Invitational and Obedience Invitationals, the World Challenge, the AKC Junior Agility and Obedience competitions, and one of the gems of the Triple Crown of dog shows, the 12th annual AKC/Eukanuba Championship.
The five-day event had over 15,500 combined entries, a lot of dogs for fanciers and the general public to admire.
Among those entries were dogs brought together by the World Challenge, the only event of its kind in the world. The top winning dogs from over 40 countries received an all-expenses paid trip provided by Eukanuba to Orlando where they competed for the title of Eukanuba World Challenge Champion and a $10,000 prize. All FCI recognized breeds are eligible to compete, which is why this Italian Pointer was there.
It’s a tremendous event that I described in more detail back in 2010, but this quick and crude video taken ringside gives a feel for what a preliminary round looked and sounded like last week. Note the different dogs in the ring along with the dogs’ handlers, groomers, and reporters from each of the dogs’ countries. It’s a big deal. By the way, see anyone you know?
During final competition, we were given access to the ring to take photographs. What a thrill!
I’ll be touching upon some of the other events in the days to come, but one of the most popular venues of all is “Meet the Breeds.” Over 160 breeds participated this year, their clubs vying for “Best Booth in Show” which was won by the Bull Terrier booth seen below.
“Meet the Breeds” was a big hit with the public, and honestly, with me, too, as I was able to get my hands on some breeds I’ve only read about. Sadly, I wasn’t able to interview everyone with whom I would have liked to have chatted. Some uncommon breeds – my own, in fact – lacked the resources or man-power to travel to Orlando to set up a booth. Others were “one-person operations” and a single person alone couldn’t possibly talk with me and satisfy the public’s insatiable curiosity about their breeds. In my book, it was more important that we court the interest of the public, and I was content to include photographs of the Moscow Toy Terrier, Pumi, Sloughi and Azawakh in my slide show. If I return to AENC next year, however, these breeds will be at the top of my interview list.
This year, I got to meet these breeds:
Stay with me into next week as I continue to share the week that was Eukanuba.