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:
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: