The subject of my very first Back Story post was the 2011 AKC/Eukanuba National Championship (AENC) when I gave you my seven picks for last year’s big finale. (For the record, I got five of the seven right.) Now 255 posts later, I am heading back to Orlando even more excited than I was last year. Last year I was pretty confident of what to expect at the AKC revival in Orlando. This year is far more unpredictable. But predict we shall.

CH Cookieland Seasyde Hollyberry
2008 AKC/Eukanuba National Championship BIS

I started my blog, Dog Show Poop, back in 2008, as a response to the close race between the nation’s Top Two Dogs All Breeds, the Giant Schnauzer, CH Galilee’s Pure Of Spirit, and the Pointer, CH Cookieland Seasyde Hollyberry, who finished the year with 117,770 and 117,045, a difference of 725 points or, said in presidential election terms, the Giant got 50.2 percent of the vote to the Pointer’s 49.8 percent, and that was the popular vote. In our canine version of the electoral college, the Pointer, Holly, won 96 BIS and the Giant, Spirit, took 71 BIS.

GCH CH Mt View’s Ripsnorter Silver Charm

This year’s race is almost as close, with only about 2,400 points separating the Number One Dog, the German Wirehaired Pointer, GCH CH Mt View’s Ripsnorter Silver Charm, and the Number Two Dog, the English Springer Spaniel, GCH CH Wynmoor Champagne Supernova. How does this relate to the AENC? There exists a distinct possibility that either or both of the Top two will opt to forgo the big dance in favor of the Richland County Kennel Club & the Western Reserve Kennel Club, two all-breed shows in Cleveland that weekend. The two Cleveland shows have a total of 4,406 while this year’s AENC has 4,058 in the regular classes. In 2008 the Giant, Spirit, opted for Cleveland, while the Pointer, Holly, went on to win the 2008 AENC.

GCH CH Wynmoor Champagne Supernova
(Photo by Jeffrey Hanlin)

So I should stipulate that I have no certain knowledge of who will show up in Florida, but if they do, here’s who I expect to be in the running. I start my picks with Terry Stacy’s Sporting Group. In addition to the above GWP, Oakley, and the Springer, Peyton, we have a trio of English Setters to consider, the Number One English Setter in the US, GCH CH Oakley’s B’Dazzled, the winner of last month’s English Setter Association of America’ National Specialty, GCH CH Aerden’s Pretty In Pink JH, and the Number Two English Setter, GCH CH Stargaz’R ‘N Wingfield Time Will Tell. Whoever makes it out of the breed will certainly be a contender in the Group. I also think the Irish Water Spaniel, GCH CH Whistlestop’s Riley on Fire will be in the mix.

GCH CH Kiarry’s Pandora’s Box

Leading Carla Molinari’s Hound Group are two dogs representing two of AKC’s rarest breeds, the American Foxhound, GCH CH Kiarry’s Pandora’s Box, and the Harrier, GCH CH Downhome Hitech Innovator. While the Foxhound, Jewel, leads the pack in all-breed points, the Harrier, Chet, who won the Group at the 2011 AENC, has more Hound Groups to his credit. One dog that has an incredible record of winning big shows in limited campaigning is the Afghan Hound, GCH CH Thaon’s Mowgli, who was the Best Bred By Exhibitor in Show last year. Rounding out my picks is the Basset Hound, GCH CH Topsfield-Sanchu Eenie Meenie Miney Moe. Tiger has come on strong lately. Just last weekend he picked up his 47th Hound Group in route to a BIS win over the GWP, Oakley. Besides, I can identify with a short-legged, full-figured dog.

GCH CH Protocol’s Veni Vidi Vici

Norm Kenney has the Working Group on Sunday evening, and two of our Top Ten Dogs All Breeds are likely to be there. The Number Three Dog, the Doberman Pinscher, GCH CH Protocol’s Veni Vidi Vici, has been in the Top Three since January and has never looked back. The Number Seven Dog, the Kuvasz, GCH CH Szumeria’s Wildwood Silver Six Pence, is the winningest Kuvasz of all time. At 800 AM on Sunday, you will find me at the Boxer ring where there may be a classic battle of the sexes between the dog, GCH CH R and G’s Mystical Dancer, and the bitch, GCH CH Winfall I Dream of Style. Whichever makes it out of the breed will likely catch judge Laurans’ eye. I also expect the Giant Schnauzer, GCH CH Kenro’s Witching Hour, and the Great Dane, GCH CH Longo Miller N Lore’s Diamond Lil, to make strong showings.

GCH CH AfterAll Painting the Sky
(Photo by Kayla Bertagnolli)

Once again this year we have a very dominant dog at the top of our Terrier Group. The country’s Number Four Dog All Breeds, the Wire Fox Terrier, GCH CH AfterAll Painting the Sky, has won an astonishing 92 percent of the Groups she entered this year. However, the AENC has a way of humbling even the most dominant of dogs. Other Terriers we expect to challenge Sky for Peggy Beisel-Mcllwaine’s favor include the Scottish Terrier, GCH CH Lomondview Clementina, the Lakeland Terrier, GCH CH Larkspur Acadia Save Me A Spot, the Skye Terrier, GCH CH Of Skyeline’s Captain Hook, and the Miniature Schnauzer, GCH CH Allaruth Just Kidding V Sole Baye.

One of the strongest groups will be Virginia Lyne’s Toy Group. I expect last year’s Toy Group winner, the current Number One Toy Dog, the Affenpinscher, GCH CH Banana Joe V Tani Kazari, to get a strong challenge this year from the Number Two Toy Dog, the Florida based Miniature Pinscher, GCH CH Marlex Classic Red Glare. The Affenpinscher, Joey, and the MinPin, Classie, are the current Number Five and Number Six Dogs All Breeds and are currently only separated by about 3,500 points. With more than 13,000 points up for grabs in Orlando next week, the title of Number One Toy dog is very much up for grabs. However, Joey and Classie are not the only contenders among the little guys. Both the Maltese, GCH CH Scylla’s Small Kraft Re-Lit, and the Pekingese, GCH CH Windemere’s Dusting of White at Pevyne are more than capable of upstaging the top two Toys.

GCH CH Brighton Lakeridge Encore
(Photo by Vicki Holloway)

Last year’s AENC BIS winner was the Standard Poodle, GCH CH Jaset’s Satisfaction, aka London, and I expect another Standard Poodle to top Gene Mills’ Non-Sporting Group this year. GCH CH Brighton Lakeridge Encore skipped last year’s competition, but is a favorite this year. However, look for the Bichon Frise, GCH CH Vogelflight’s “Honor” To Pillowtalk, who trails only London in the Number of Non-Sporting Groups won this year. With 75 French Bulldogs entered, it will be hard to ignore the Breed winner. Look for either the California-based GCH CH Lebull’s New Hope Wooly Bully or the Floridian GCH CH Bandog Bayou’s The Warrior. If you are seeing spots before your eyes, it might very well be the Dalmatian, GCH CH Spotlight’s Ruffian.

GCH CH Babheim’s Captain Crunch

Wrapping up our AENC Advance Look is Jim Fredericksen’s Herding Group. I will be surprised if last year’s winner and this year’s Number One Herding Dog, the German Shepherd Dog, GCH CH Babheim’s Captain Crunch, does not repeat. Jimmy Moses, the winningest professional handler of all time and current AKC judge, has piloted Capi to 22 BIS and a remarkable 87 Herding Groups this year. While Capi has won 83 percent of the Groups he entered this year, he will have to work for this one. I look for one of three Bouvier des Flandres, GCH CH Rocheuses Me and My Shadow of Cornus, GCH CH Hatch Tillie de la Salsa or GCH CH Quiche’s Grand Finale, to do their best to best Capi and Jimmy. The Cardigan Welsh Corgi, GCH CH Aubrey’s Tails of Mystery, has been an excellent ambassador for a breed that often goes unrecognized and has won more Herding Groups than any other dog save Capi. Finally, look for the Old English Sheepdog, GCH CH Lambluv Gambolon Blue Thunder, and the Puli, GCH CH Cordmaker Rumpus Bumpus, to contend for one of the four placements.

Finally, I will share an insight from last year. I was pleasantly surprised to see several “ghosts from Christmas past” at the 2011 AENC. I wouldn’t be surprised if this year’s BIS came from last year’s Top Ten. As hard as it is to predict which of this year’s contenders will show, I won’t even speculate which of 2011’s top dogs might attend. We will be the first to tell you as we blog right from ringside next week. And that’s today’s Back Story.