Stilettos and Vuvuzelas: The Road to AKC/Eukanuba

Last year I had the pleasure of attending the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship. I felt a little bit like Alice in Wonderland while I was there.  I had no idea what to expect, my world being that of cages and operating tables. Down the chute I went, past bedazzled leads and ornamental throws covered in Corgis. And there, on the other side of the door, I entered the surreal world of the dog show:

Here is the White Queen, windswept and amiable; (This by the way bears a striking resemblance to my own hair before I go at it with the straightener)

The Mad Hatter, bouncy and exuberant;

And of course, the Flower Garden, where no one’s petals are untidy and everyone holds still when they should.

I even met the Jabberwocky. “Oh my god,” I whispered to Bev last year as we passed a dog in the exhibit hall. “That’s the weirdest looking Chinese Crested I’ve ever seen. He looks like a gremlin.”

“I think that’s a Xolo,” she responded. By then we were close enough to the owner to verify the dog was, in fact, a Xoloitzcuintli, not that I could pronounce that today. But it was, and I now knew a new breed.

The show is, to put it mildly, a huge deal. From the AKC press release:

A record 3,938 dogs will compete for more than $225,000 in cash prizes at the eleventh annual AKC/Eukanuba National Championship (AENC) on December 17 and 18, 2011 in Orlando, Florida. The two-day event is held in conjunction with the AKC Agility Invitational, the AKC National Obedience Invitational (with entries of 592 and 146 respectively including our first-ever All-American Dogs), the Juniors events (159 conformation + 47 obedience + 50 agility entries) and the Eukanuba World Challenge (44 participants), making for a record-breaking combined entry of 4,976 for all events.

The Xolo is one of the newest breeds to be competing there, along with Finnish Lapphunds and Entlebucher Mountain Dogs. What are they? I have no idea either, but I intend to find out, since I have been lucky enough to be invited once more despite my lack of intimacy with the breeding community. I’m working on it, promise.

I see myself as an arbiter of the interests of the common man, you know, the one who can ID most of the more common breeds but has no clue that the Canaan dog is the national dog of Israel. The one who asks the obvious questions, such as, “How the heck do you groom a Komondor?” I don’t mind. I’ll be that person.

I’ve got lots of ideas as to how to tackle this show, but it will be hard since there is so much to see on top of the conformation portion- Agility! Obedience! K9 Military Detection Competitions! It’s a dog-a-palooza.

I do have to point out something that I take as a sign, however:

Of the 173 breeds entered to compete in the National Championship, guess which one posted the highest number of registrants? Just guess.

Yup. The Bostons. HELLO. Fate is conspiring to put me in the same room with 64 of the finest examples of the breed, and I intend to take advantage of that. I have no idea how, but I will. The plan may or may not involve a maternity shirt, a pocket full of peanut butter, and a Snugli. It will be glorious.

But it’s hard to find a dog I don’t like, and part of my mission while I’m there is going to be to hunt down as many awesome dogs as I can at the Meet the Breed booths and get a little insider info on them.

Here are some of my other goals:

  • Find out why people bring brushes into the ring and keep brushing them while the judge is looking at the dog. When is it too late to poof?
  • Answer the question: Why does dog show attire so strongly resemble wedding attire? And who out there is a fashion Do? And why do so many people in the show ring wear scrunchies?
  • Do a lap around the ring in stilettos and show that either 1. It can be done or 2. It really can’t be done.
  • One word: VUVUZELA.

This will make for compelling blogging.

I will have a little more access than is usual thanks to Eukanuba, so I’m opening it up to the crowd here: Here is the list of breeds that will be there. I’m already hitting up the Boston booth and the Golden booth, but other than that I’m open. Any particular breed you want me to interview/love on?

And for fun, here’s the pics from last year in Long Beach:

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Filed: Blog, Daily Life Tagged: , ,
  • Samantha Daley

    I am partial to Maltese, and my dog has a thing for Dobermans so there is my vote. Maybe we will see you down there. We are competing in Obedience for the first time this year. :/ So nerve wracking! I don’t think I will get much of a chance to sneak away to the other competitions so I will enjoy seeing it from your blog!

    • When are you competing? How exciting!! Good luck!

  • Sue W.

    Yea! Dog show! Make some sort of major disturbance so you are caught on camera and then wave to me!

    • I was thinking I’ve never seen anyone streak a dog show, so that’s an option.

      • JaneK

        okay…. that makes me laugh to think about it! go for it!

  • Fun! The hardest part for me would be keeping the squealing under control and my hands firmly at my sides so I don’t snatch doggie heads and slobber all over them.

    • Agreed. My hands are never at my sides, they are always busy petting or gesturing or something.

      • JaneK

        my computer won’t let me make a new comment…. but give a special scratch to the Pharoah Hounds; my beloved was mostly pharoah and probably some ridgeback…. can’t wait to hear more about the show!

  • Lisa W

    Oooooooh, Great Pyrenees, please! I thought Leonbergers were AKC now, too, but I don’t see them listed. I just really like Leos, but Oscar is 3/4 Pyr and I can’t imagine him being in those circumstances without barking his gorgeous head off. I wonder how they do it… 😉

    • Lisa W

      And BTW, I hope you have an absolute blast! (Just don’t get caught sneaking out one of those Bostons!)

      • Don’t get *caught*. Got it.

  • Northern AB gal

    Giant Schnauzers please! Lucky you, looking forward to pics.

    • Oooh, good one. Will add to the list.

  • meredith


    • Added to the list! I love doxies!

  • gaylecool

    Are you going this year? I’d love to go. I went to Westminster once, what an experience!

    • I am! I’ll be blogging ringside!

  • Irish Wolfhounds! I would love to see photos. of course any pugs and bostons you want to take photos of would also be good.

    • Of course the Irish Wolfies for you!

  • Peter

    Time for the Bernese Mountain Dogs to shine!

    • Ah yes, gotta love the Bernese. I hear they are magnificent surfers as well. 😀

  • Anonymous

    Hello?!!? Please visit the Labrador Retriever Club of America and show those dogs some love because, you know, no one else does!

    • Last year I couldn’t even get close to the booth since there were so many people scrambling to meet the labs! 😀

  • Teamkindred

    Please take a pic of the Corgi’s. And I’d like to know when the American Staffordshire Terrier will be recognized, not just the Staffordshire Bill Terrier. Pitties, always left behind. Just sayin’

    • I love me some Corgis!

    • Anne

      AmStaffs have been recognized by the AKC since 1938…

      i see them all the time at the local show

      • Anne

        i forgot to say:
        i wonder why there aren’t any showing at the Eukanuba Cup. Maybe no entries?

        • Looking at the judging program now – 27 AmStaffs entered, Ring 6 on Sunday at 11:20!

  • Chris

    Yorkshire Terriers please!

    • Popular choice. Will do, Chris!

  • Lindsay P

    Ooh, ooh, Frenchies please!!!!

    • Gotta love the Frenchies!

  • Say hi to the Pulik for me! I can answer any and all grooming questions if you need a ringer.

    • Oh good. Maybe you can answer now so I can sleep at night: how do you groom a corded breed?

      • We dump her in the bath, soak her, soap her up, rinse her until the water runs clean, do a final rinse with a grooming oil, then dry dry dry dry. Usually two days. She gets a butt trim (she’s sensitive about her butt) and a face trim as needed. Other than that, she’s good to go. Usually a month or two between baths.

        The cords usually form themselves, but if they’re clumping, we will separate them by just pulling them apart. Usually we don’t even notice that we’re “grooming”. She’s just sitting on a lap, and a cord will get caught or be too big and we’ll just pull it apart on the spot. She looked like a little haystack when she was a puppy, what with the cords flying every which way, but it’s basically organized matting.

  • Anne

    Spinone Italiano!!
    i have one- and there are very, very few in my state (had to go to VA to get her). Our local dog show only typically has 1-2 showing, so i never get to give/get Spinone love except for with my Tula.
    Oh, also- i love to watch the Frenchies show (and the Bostons, but you’ve got them covered already)

    • Oooh, excellent suggestion.

    • Tara Flynn

      I helped deliver a litter of Spinones when I was in vet school, and I looooved the pups! One of them became a frequent visitor to our ER due to an, ah, adventurous personality. I named my first dog after that puppy. Love them. 🙂

  • Rottweiler, my One True Breed! Also noticing a few comments from people saying that certain breeds are not on the list. The link for list of breeds attending is for Meet the Breeds and some of the “missing” breeds are represented in the show if not by their parent club – judging program link is

    • Thanks Kathi for clarifying that- not all the breeds present at the show are participating in Meet the Breeds.

  • Vonny

    Australian cattle dog please. My girl is mostly a bluey and turned out to be a very smart (if stubborn) dog.

    Are the people in the ring not allowed to smile? What a somber bunch! I look forward to your photos.

    • Love the cattle dogs! SO very smart.

  • Tara Flynn

    Say hi to the Brittanys for me!

  • Jasouza9

    There are so many breeds close to my heart, but closest would be Shelties, which we had 2 of growing up.
    And I know you’re not there to be controversial, but I just read this and I’m wondering what the bulldog folks would have to say about this –
    I knew bulldogs had health problems, but had no idea how bad it was!

    And you should look for red circular stickers on cars around town with a dog on it – the new-ish TJ soccer team are the Xolos and I see those stickers everywhere!

    • Oh yeah? I will look for them! That is awesome!

      The bulldogs- well, that is something I struggle with too. That article really drives it home.

  • Abby’s Mom

    If I may be so greedy as to put in two requests, say hi to the Cavalier King Charles Spaniels for me and the miniature schnauzer for my fiance. He had one growing up and they never seem to get much attention on the televised shows.

  • Jeanne

    belgian tervuren – gorgeous, sweet and loveable. i’ve got 2 that luv to cuddle and give hugs.

    • Tervurens are lovely!

  • Carrie

    I would be super grateful if you could simply pet each dog breed and answer a question for me: which dog breed is silkiest? I’m a cat lady hoping to own a dog in a few years, and apart from the obvious temperament/lifestyle criteria, I’m hoping to find a dog that feels as nice to pet as my healthy kitty does.

    • Hmmm. Maybe Yorkies or Silky terriers. I will investigate for you.

  • Kristin

    Please say hi to the Standard Schnauzers for me! We just got our first one and are in love
    They don’t get a lot of media love because their beards can make them look stern but they’re such sweet dogs with a great sense of humor. If you think of it, take a picture for me. Thanks!!

  • Kelly

    Please visit the German Shorthaired Pointers! We totally fell in love with the breed after getting one two years ago. Most people have never heard of them before and we think they’re totally underrated.

  • Please give my regards to the Newfoundlands! I just spent a day with the Newfoundland Club of New England yesterday, watching them pull Christmas trees to people’s cars for them after they were cut down at a farm. My own Newf was nose to nose with one of the resident llamas … such gentle giants, they’re absolute loves!