On my bucket list has been to show on the blue carpet at Eukanuba (note – not pushing for the TV version and being in the group, simply hoping to make it there at all). To make it an “honest” venture – I felt it had to be by invitation.
So I was thrilled when my homebred Belgian Tervuren boy finished his CH at 8 months of age completely from Bred By Exhibitor. My understanding was that this would give him two years of invitations to Eukanuba. Ooops, the invitations for BBE were discontinued. Well, darn. The invitations for being in the Top 20 or Top 25 were also discontinued – those may have been a bit of a stretch for us anyway. Looked like my feet would never tread the blue carpet!
Along came the new Owner Handler events. Very few of these were offered in the Northeast in 2012 and while a few more shows offered this in 2013, I didn’t hit many of the shows that did. So, it was a total shock when my young bitch received an email invitation as being one of the Top Ten Tervs in Owner Handler in 2012. I freely admit I doubted the veracity of the invite. Babe had only shown in one Owner Handler event. As soon as she finished her championship I promised her no more breed shows except occasional specialties and special events since she greatly prefers performance.
I diligently checked out the AKC website showing the Owner Handler Stats. There she was – tied with 11 other Belgian Tervurens in 6th place with a grand total of 5 points – CH Sensation Coyote Grand Slam TD HT RE BN NAJ NA NJP NAP! Woohoo! I had my Eukanuba Invite!
Hotel reservations were made, plans to meet my daughter in Virginia on the way down to Florida from upstate New York were arranged and entries were sent in. I had a sit down with Babe and explained that this was one of those very few times I needed her to “suck it up” and do conformation for me.
Luckily we missed most of the bad weather on our drive down. We did not miss the traffic hold ups. I saw more cars in the hour and a half it took us to go the last 10 miles than I normally see in a month at home. Still, we were there! Crates and grooming table unloaded, dogs walked around the event center and off to bed on Thursday night.
Herding group entries truly lucked out judge-wise. Our judge was Leah James who was personable, friendly, funny and clearly having a great time herself. Every dog got a thorough evaluation. You felt like every dog was truly a contender. We did not get the fairly tale ending BOB, but still had a fun time and a friend did take BOB so that was great. Babe showed well for me and I was thrilled with her.
Now, for comments to the powers that be at AKC.
- If you truly want to push the whole Owner Handler image, you need to change a few things. If OHs and their dogs are truly competitive, then you need to give out more than just BOB. Our judge was disappointed to have only one award and most of us were surprised that only BOB was awarded. I doubt you would do that at a competition where professional handlers were involved. After all, you gave out BOB, BOS, Selects and Awards of Merit at the “regular competition”. We deserve the same respect.
- The $20 entry was nice but you could have easily charged $30 and been able to afford a few more rosettes, etc.
- I, and the other Owner Handlers, had hoped for a nice printed invitation to frame for the wall above our beloved dogs’ beds. An impersonal email just doesn’t cut it. I can’t believe the cost would have been that much (see #2) and you would have made those who qualified but couldn’t come to the show happy too
- This was the “first ever AKC Owner Handler Invitational”. There were no t-shirts to purchase, no pins, absolutely nothing to commemorate this event. A cheapo button stating something like Top Ten Owner Handler would have been wonderful and worn with pride throughout the weekend (except in the ring) by all of us.
I doubt I will make the Top Ten ranking again but it was worth it for my big chance to gait on the blue carpet. Thank you Eukanuba for this event and one ticket removed from my bucket list!