AKC Dog Show – A View from the Inside!

(By Harley D)

First I must introduce myself as I am new to your country. My official name is VIP Alex Family Harley and I am a 9 months old Biewer Terrier. I arrived from Russia earlier this year and now live in Wisconsin. Everyone calls me Harley D.

I do not speak English very well yet, but I want to tell you about my most exciting visit to a real American Kennel Club dog show just last weekend. There was so much going on and so much to see it is hard to believe it all happened in one day in one place!

As you know, back then, my breed was still in the Foundation Stock Service (FSS). That means we can only be shown at Open Shows, which is like a show held within a larger dog show. It is the same process as the regular AKC shows, a process of elimination. You start with class competition, then the class winners go on to compete for Best of Breed. The winners of the Miscellaneous Class and FSS Groups compete for Best in FSS Open Show. I found out you do not earn Championship points at an FSS Open Show, but do earn Certificate of Merit points. In July the Biewers will be moving into the Miscellaneous Group which will allow us many more opportunities for showing as Miscellaneous Group breeds can be exhibited at most AKC dog shows.

One of my very good friends, Tessa Sparkles, is a Kerry Blue Terrier and she gets to go into the regular AKC shows because her breed is fully recognized already. She also competes in the AKC National Owner-Handled Series which is like a second storyline within the dog show and is only available to dogs who are being handled by their owners. But I am getting ahead of myself. Let me tell you about my most exceptional day at the Kettle Moraine Kennel Club Show in West Bend, Wisconsin.

My Mom and I drove down to West Bend to see the dog show and cheer on our friends who were competing. A dog show is very much a matter of elimination. All the dogs are entered in some class or other based on their age, sex, and accomplishments. So the dogs who are not yet champions compete in the classes. All the males (dogs) compete and then the first-place winner from each class compete against each other for Winners Dog. Then they repeat the judging for the females (bitches) and the first-place winner from each class competes for Winners Bitch. The Winners Dog and Winners Bitch are awarded championship points based on the number of other class dogs/bitches they defeated. Then all the Specials (Champions and Grand Champions) of the breed and the two Winners come back into the ring to compete for Best of Breed. The judge selects Best of Breed, Best of Opposite Sex to Best of Breed, Best of Winners, and Select Dog and Select Bitch. It is here where there are Grand Champion points awarded. But, this is also where one dog in the ring is awarded Owner-Handled Best of Breed if they are owned by the person handling them. And my friend Tessa won! Best of Opposite Sex to Best of Breed AND Owner-Handled Best of Breed!

After the breed judging, you have to wait for the groups to begin. Each breed is assigned to a specific group, there are seven in all, based on their function or purpose. Tessa is in the Terrier Group. All the Best of Breed winners within that group compete against each other for group placements.

While we waited for the group judging to begin, we went to the grooming area to relax for a short time. I was amazed at the brushing, blowing, spraying, chalking, and trimming going on all around me. It was like sitting in the center of a beehive of beauticians! And then there were many others like us, waiting for the groups to begin, chatting, and going vendoring to all the booths. (I got a new chew and a new toy for being an exceptionally good boy!)

Now, this is where it gets exciting. When the groups begin, there are actually two sets … one for the regular groups and the other for Owner Handled. So let’s say they start with the Terrier Group, all the Terrier group Best of Breed winners compete against each other for a Terrier Group first so they can move on to the Best in Show competition. All the other Terrier group dogs are thereby eliminated. As soon as the regular Terrier Group is completed, then they call in the Owner Handled Terrier Group Best of Breed winners. That included Tessa! And she won first place in the group! So she moved on to compete in the Owner-Handled Best in Show. And while we had to wait for all the other groups to finish being judged, it was fun to watch and listen. I think this is why people like dog shows so much. You get to relax, talk with people, tell visitors about your breed, meet lots of new folks, and just hang out with friends you have made with a similar interest in dogs. I got to try out my new toy while we waited; a fishing pole with a squeaky, furry end that I get to chase. I even caught it a couple of times! Then a big storm passed through and all the Siberians and several other dogs were howling. That was an awesome sound!

After the group judging was completed, out of all the dogs entered in the show, it is down to a competition between the seven dogs who won first place in their regular groups, and the seven dogs who won first place in their Owner Handled groups. Who would win Best in Show and Reserve Best in Show? I was right up at ringside waiting to see what would happen. Who would win? In the regular groups, Best in Show was the Welsh Terrier! I got so excited that I forgot who won Reserve Best in Show because now it was Tessa’s turn to compete. There were seven Owner Handled group winners in the ring and none of them put a foot wrong. Each had competed against and defeated numerous other dogs and their owners. The judge handed out the Reserve Best in Show rosette, and Tessa was still stacked up and showing her heart out. And then it happened! The judge said, “And my Best in Show today is the Kerry Blue Terrier!”
My friend Tessa has just won the Owner-Handled Best in Show! So out of the 846 dogs who started out entered in the show … the winners were a Welsh Terrier and a Kerry Blue Terrier. It was a day to write home about!

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