As I sort through all the events of the past week, I keep going back to what encourages me to visit these large “marquee” shows.   While I freely admit that I still think of the Westminster Kennel Club (WKC) show, the second longest continuous sporting event in America, as the premier event in the dog world, with each passing year the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship (AENC) gains on that venerable institution.

First of all is the sheer size of the event.  This year’s show had 3800 dogs in the conformation competition.  Westminster will host a little more than half that amount, limiting the 2012 entries to 2000 dogs.  Secondly, this is a truly international event, drawing dogs and fanciers from all over the world.  We will get more in depth about the influence of imported dogs on our show scene in a future post, but for the moment what I want to emphasize is the opportunity to meet and share with breeders from all over the world.  Finally, is to witness history being made in our sport.

I came to this year’s AENC with my list of dogs I had not yet seen this year.  I started with a list of the 100 Top Dogs All Breeds and then added dogs that had made the Dog Show Poop DOGS2WATCH list and finished it off with a handful of dogs that were generating a buzz around the shows recently.  While compiling that list I realized that we had at least six breed/variety records set this year.  When you come to this show, you get to see those dogs which dog people will talk about for years to come.  Here’s the six dogs I will remember from this year as the “winningest in AKC history”.

The 15” Beagle, GCH CH Torquay’s Midnight Confession.  I dubbed Lola and breeder/owner/handler Marcelo Chagas the “Fred & Ginger of the dog world” for the way they exuded elegance and charm in the ring.  Lola finished the year with a career 45 BIS.

The Pharaoh Hound, GCH CH Northgate’s As You Like It.  The Swedish import had a spectacular career in Europe before arriving in the US to begin his assault on the AKC record book.  He was the top dog in Sweden in 2007, BIS at the 2007 World Dog Show, and winner of the Hound Group at Crufts in 2009 & 2010. Handler Brian Livingston and Qing close the year with 47 AKC career BIS. (Photo by Infocusbymiguel)

If you still haven’t seen the Whippet, GCH CH Starline’s Chanel, it hasn’t been for lack of opportunity.  Handler Lori Wilson and “Cha Cha” have been all over the US collecting 68 lifetime BIS as well as Hound Groups at the 2010 AENC and 2010 WKC.

The Kuvazs, GCH CH Szumeria’s Wildwood Silver Six Pence, hasn’t made it to as many shows, but he was in Orlando to strut his stuff in the AENC Working Group last night.  Tanner and handler Diane Wilson have a breed record 24 big rosettes to end 2011.  (Photo by Derek Glas)

Also in Orlando this year was the Skye Terrier, GCH CH Cragsmoor Buddy Goodman, who broke a record that stood for almost 40 years.  Buddy & handler Larry Cornelius have gathered 41 all breed Bests along the way.  To understand how dominant Buddy & Larry have been you only have to look at their 110 Terrier Group Firsts this year.

Finally, we have the Bearded Collie, GCH CH Tolkien Raintree Mister Baggins, has obliterated the old record with 75 career BIS, the latest coming this past Thursday in Cleveland OH.  Recently one judge, who shall go nameless, stated that Roy, handled by Cliff Steele, was one of the three greatest show dogs they had ever judged.

And that’s why I go to these shows, to see history in the making.