The American Kennel Club deemed its new performance event, slated to kick off in March 2013, an “extravaganza.” Because it will feature a trio of competitions, one in its inaugural year, plus other attractions, the grandiose word may not be an overstatement.

Exhibitors and visitors to Tulsa, Okla., can choose from agility, obedience or the latest AKC companion animal event – rally. And they won’t find simple trials at the Expo Square pavilion and fairgrounds. Full-on championships in agility and obedience – in the form of the National Agility Championship and the National Obedience Championship – will run during the three-day event. AKC Rally will see its first national event, the National Rally Competition.

Because it’s the Companion Events Extravaganza premiere, the AKC has not estimated how many people may descend on the city, but about 1,500 dogs are expected, says AKC Director of Communications Lisa Peterson. That breaks down to 150 top obedience competitors vying for an NOC title, 200 rally dogs and their handlers ready to make history, and about 1,000 agility champions seeking that NAC in front of their names.


Obedience exhibitors and spectators will see a new national event starting in 2013. The AKC Obedience Classic will run concurrently with the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship in Orlando, Fla., as the invitational, renamed the National Obedience Championship, moves to the new AKC Companion Events Extravaganza in Tulsa, Okla. Photos courtesy AKC.

Obedience Classic Comes to Life

Next year’s NOC will essentially move the obedience invitational, most recently held in conjunction with the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship, to Tulsa, and give it a name change. It will be the 19th year that AKC obedience competitors have come together to determine the year’s best dogs.

However, fans will still be able to compete in and watch obedience as the new AKC Obedience Classic sees its inauguration in December 2013 at the registry’s annual conformation biggie.

The Classic will draw an estimated 200 dogs, crowning the top Novice, Open and Utility competitor. Novices must have earned their CD (Companion Dog) titles between July 1, 2012 and June 30, 2013 to qualify, as well as three more qualifying scores in Novice or one HIT (high in trial) award, and two placements in the Novice classes. For the Open class, the dog must earn its CDX (Companion Dog Excellent) during the qualifying period, plus three more qualifying scores in Open or one HIT award, and at least two placements. Dogs entering the Utility class must have a Utility Dog or Utility Dog Excellent title and earn six qualifying scores in Utility, but may not be Obedience Trial Champions (OTCH).

The National Juniors Obedience Competition will continue to be held each December with the AENC.

Peterson concedes that “over the long term, yes, obedience has shown a decline in interest.” She points out, however, that the sport saw a 7.6-percent increase in event numbers during the first quarter of 2012 with a 16-percent jump in entries. “The more higher-level events for exhibitors, the more opportunity they have to take their obedience skills to the next level,” she says. By creating a venue for non-champions, it gives handlers “a chance to test their dogs’ skills in a whole different way,” she says.


Rally takes a big leap forward in 2013 with the kickoff of the AKC National Rally Competition in Tulsa, Okla., the first AKC national event for the 7-year-old sport. Photos by Mary Bloom © AKC.

Rally Gets a Big Stage

Rally competitors get a whole new forum to show off their skills. The National Rally Competition in 2013 will be the first national competition in the 7-year-old companion event. “It’s a young sport,” Peterson says, “so this is our first attempt at having a nationwide rally competition. It’s a great way to give exhibitors a new level to look forward to.” Plus, she says, it’s just “fun to come to a national competition.”

Why “competition,” rather than “championship?”

“With any sport that’s new and being developed, it goes through stages and growing pains, so to speak,” she explains. “In the beginning, it’s a national competition. It’s not quite yet a championship event. It’s not to say it won’t become that.”

She points out that rally is on a much faster track than obedience was. AKC’s been sanctioning obedience trials since 1936, but holding a championship for only 19 years. The National Rally Competition is an “avenue that will provide us with opportunity for further development,” she says.

Rally has its roots in obedience, but allows more interaction between handler and dog. For details about the sport, click here.

To enter the Tulsa rally competition, dogs must have earned their class titles – Novice (RN), Advanced (RA), Excellent (RE) or Advanced Excellent (RAE) – between Dec. 1, 2011 and Nov. 30, 2012, plus earn three scores of at least 90 during that time in their class. Those in the Rally Advanced Excellent must also get five double qualifying scores from the Advanced B and Excellent B classes during the qualifying period.

Agility competitors will dominate the new AKC Companion Events Extravaganza with an anticipated 1,000 entries next year. Photo courtesy AKC.

Agility Championship Key to New Event

The National Agility Championship remains unchanged from its annual format, most recently held March 30 through April 1, 2012, in Reno, Nevada. The National Agility Invitational will continue as part of the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship weekend of events in Orlando, Fla.

If you decide to make the trip to Tulsa, expect to see all kinds of dogs. All breeds eligible to compete in AKC companion events that qualify may enter the Extravaganza. This includes mixed-breed and purebred dogs of unknown pedigree registered with the Canine Partners Program, plus dogs with Purebred Alternative Listing status or with the Indefinite Listing Privilege program.

In announcing the new event in a press release, AKC Vice President of Companion and Performance Events Doug Ljungren recognized the effort of his retired assistant vice president. “Thanks to the vision of retired Companion Events AVP Curt Curtis and his staff, this new ‘Companion Events Extravaganza’ will allow us to showcase the best competitors in the country, rotate venues and teach responsible dog ownership to the public through demonstrations, seminars and other companion dog-related activities,” he said.

See you in Tulsa next year!