Last week two of our recent Top Ten reached the pinnacle of 100 career Bests In Show. Another is poised to reach that mark this week. Such a goal is as challenging to me as climbing Mount Everest. Then I remember that at least two dogs have exceeded the 200 career BIS mark, the German Shepherd Dog, Atlanta’s Mystique, who collected an awe-inspiring 275 all-breed Bests, and the Scottish Terrier, CH Braeburn’s Close Encounter, who earned 214 BIS, the dog show equivalent of walking on the moon. On the other end of the spectrum, I remember an owner excitedly telling me that their dog had just become the winningest of his breed after picking up his fourth big rosette.
So what goal signifies the pinnacle of success in the dog game? Certainly the 100 BIS mark stands out as a major accomplishment. Mystique’s handler, the legendary James (Jimmy) Moses, has amassed more than 1,000 BIS as a handler, a mark that should impress all in the sport, especially professional handlers. Sylvia Hammarstrom of Skansen Kennels has bred more than 1,000 Champion and Grand Champion dogs, over 900 in Giant Schnauzers alone. While most of the dog world operates on a much less grand scale, Skansen Kennels has to be considered one of the most successful breeding programs ever in the canine realm.
What other records impress me? A breed/Group placement/Best In Show at Westminster, the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship or the Montgomery County Kennel Club are my equivalent to the Academy Award, Golden Globe and Tony. I admit I have been one of the people who have focused on the big wins, the BIS and the Group Ones, but it’s supposed to be all about winning at the breed level. Accordingly, a BISS at a breed’s National Specialty should be the high mark of a career. Since I began writing Dog Show Poop, several dogs have won their National Specialty more than once. That makes them legends in my eyes.
My ultimate goal is to be able to step in the ring with a dog of my own breeding that is the physical realization of that perfect dog I had in my head when I bought that first puppy. If I ever reach that goal, any other will be just reassurance. And that’s today’s Back Story.