I’m sitting in Orlando International Airport, thoroughly satisfied with my past five days at the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship (AENC) and its three warm-up shows hosted by the Space Coast Kennel Club of Palm Bay, the Brevard Kennel Club and the Central Florida Kennel Club. There were many things to like about this year’s AENC.

Everyone was there, well, at least on Wednesday when the SCKCPB show was the only all-breed show in the US. The Sporting Group that night featured all of the Top Ten Sporting Dogs in the US, including the Numbers One and Two Dogs, the German Wirehaired Pointer, GCH CH Mt View’s Ripsnorter Silver Charm, and the English Springer Spaniel, GCH Wynmoor Champagne Supernova, and the top Sporting Dog of all time, the Black Cocker, GCH CH Casablanca’s Thrilling Seduction. However, both Oakley and Peyton departed Orlando in search of points to secure their season. Joining them were the Numbers One and Two Hounds, the American Foxhound, GCH CH Kiarry’s Pandora’s Box, who took the BIS on Wednesday, and the Harrier, GCH CH Downhome Hitech Innovator.

None of the four would return to Orlando. While I would have enjoyed seeing the dogs slug it out in a few more groups, I appreciate that our game has more in common with a chess game than a boxing match. The Number One Working Dog, the Doberman Pinscher, GCH CH Protocol’s Veni Vidi Vici, did fly to Cleveland on her off day to collect a Best In Show, but returned on Sunday to pick up the Bred By Exhibitor Best In Show from the legendary breeder/owner/handler, Patricia Trotter.

There were lots of fresh faces. In addition to the many dogs who were there to compete in the World Challenge, there were several dogs that are just starting their show careers. The Boxer, CH Hi-Tech King of Sherry Shoot took the breed three of four days. The Giant Schnauzer, CH Lowdown Remy’s Girl V Ardenhout, would take the breed over multi-BIS winning competition on Sunday and advance to the group.

About the only fault I can find with this year’s AENC is that it is the last show of the season. And that’s today’s Back Story.