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My Fantasy Campaign

GCH CH Edgewood Casino Celebrity, AKC's Number One English Cocker Spaniel

One of my fantasies, and I suspect also of many people who have shown a champion or grand champion, is a dog worthy of a national campaign supported by unlimited funds. Don’t roll your eyes. You know you have dreamt about it.

The first thing to decide upon is the dog. Now, we all have our preferences, but I have some requirements for the perfect campaign dog.

  • • One, I would look for a Sporting or Working Dog. Group wins in those two groups are worth 50 to 100 percent more than in the other five groups.
  • • Two, I would choose a breed that has minimal competition at the breed level. While we do see Boxers and Dobermans in the Top Twenty year after year, it’s rare that we see a Lab at the top of the rankings. That’s because it’s tougher to get out of the breed.
  • • Finally, I would choose a breed that travels easily, both by car and air. Again, lots of the Terriers are small enough to take on the plane with you. However, if you have the funds to fly charter or private aircraft, that’s not much of an issue. My choice for my fantasy campaign would be an English Cocker Spaniel. I know. I can’t ever remember an English Cocker Spaniel in the Top Twenty All Breeds, but one of my goals is to promote my breed. English Cockers are small, but with great ring presence; rare, but familiar to most people around the show hall; and easy to share a hotel room or rental car with.

Next, I need to decide where I’m going to take my boy…Whether you show a dog or bitch will in some ways depend on the breed, but in general, I would rather not deal with a bitch coming into season before a big show. Now, let me say my goal is not to finish as Number One Dog All Breeds. If that should happen, great, but my goals are to have the time of my life (most people forget that one), promote my breed and introduce the dog world to my breeding program. Because I am showing a Sporting Dog, I don’t have to win a lot of BIS. I just have to place in the group consistently, not that that’s all that easy, even with a great dog.

Our choices for the first three months are easy. I will start in the California desert with the Kennel Club of Palm Springs, take in as much of the Florida circuit mid–month as I can get in before I wrap up January in Portland, OR, with the Rose City Classic. I don’t know of any dog that has corralled all of the 25,000 points theoretically available in January. I have seen several do well in January and stay in the Top Ten all year.

February’s command performance is the Westminster Kennel Club show. The preliminaries are not as important as they once were, but if you ever expect to be taken seriously in this game, you have to be seen at the Garden. (I’m not sure being seen at the Piers has quite the impact). Unfortunately, I won’t have much time to bask in the glow in the Big Apple as I and my boy will be off to the Mile High City for the most important date in the Rocky Mountain region. This year the Plum Creek Kennel Club and Colorado Kennel Club’s quartet of shows anted up almost 8,000 points. Finish out the month in the Windy City, with the Park Shore Kennel Club, the Blackhawk Kennel Club and the International Kennel Club of Chicago. The four shows are not as large as those in Denver, but we will be seen by just about everybody in the Great Lakes area.

We will take off the next couple of weeks (which we will do frequently throughout the year) and rest up for mid-March’s Kentuckiana Cluster in Louisville, KY, traditionally the largest weekend of the year. The four shows this year saw almost 11,000 dogs present and competing. Fanciers can catch us in Raleigh, NC, the week after Louisville. The points will only be half of that in Kentucky, but there are five shows at which to collect points. As spring starts, our options are many, but I do have some favorite stops. I will spend April in Atlanta and Timonium, MD, early May at the Bucks County and Trenton shows, and Memorial Day in Kalamazoo, MI. You can find us in the San Francisco Bay area in early June for “Woofstock,” one of the most fun four-day clusters anywhere, and mugging for the TV cameras in Oklahoma City the end of June.

July’s must do’s are Houston & Greenville, SC. In August we will be back in Colorado & Atlanta. Labor Day you can find us in New Jersey for the Westchester County KC weekend. Later in September, we’ll move on to Cape Cod for the Cranberry Cluster. In early October, we will brave all the Terriers to be seen at the prelims to Montgomery County. Later in the month, we will head to upstate New York’s wine country for another beautiful four days. In November we will spend Thanksgiving at home and watch ourselves on TV at the National Dog Show (The Kennel Club of Philadelphia).

Our year ends as big as it started, with the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship. Future AENCs promise to draw even more dogs than Louisville. Plus it’s a chance to see all my friends from overseas that have come for the World Challenge. Who knows, maybe one will host us at Crufts or the World Show, to celebrate our best year ever. After all, this is my fantasy. And that’s today’s Back Story.

Written by

Billy Wheeler has been attending dog shows as a spectator and exhibitor for over 40 years. Billy is the man behind the popular Dog Show Poop. He is a retired management consultant who has advised multiple organizations affiliated with the AKC and the Cat Fanciers Association on business management, long range planning, customer service, and legislative matters. After 25 years of living in the big cities of New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC, he now resides in his hometown of Memphis TN with his wife, Brenda, her Toy Poodle and his Cairn, Scottie, & IG. When he is not blogging, Billy can be found in the kitchen cooking, and listening to opera.
  • Mark Johnson May 12, 2012 at 5:50 AM

    ” I can’t ever remember an English Cocker Spaniel in the Top Twenty All Breeds”.

    How quickly do memories fade? I believe there has been one during 2004 – 2006. Laura King handling Copper, BIS BISS CH Chestnuts Selling the Drama, CD GN RAE NA NAJ NJP ECM TDInc. 26 BIS including Louisville KC largest entry won by an ECS and 2 others from the top ten for ECS, 12 BISS including ECSCA Nat’l, 81 Group wins, 172 Group placements, WKC Group 4.

    He is the elder half of the only father-son pair of ECS to have won both the ECSCA Nat’l BoB and all-breed BIS awards.

    He consistently ranked at the top and/or top 5 in the breed each year for each of the other events in which he competed/titled, Obedience, Rally-O, and Agility. Another Son was High Scoring Dog in Trial at the 2012 ECSCA Nat’l Obedience Trial.

    Among judges while being campaigned, he was often referred to as “The Red Dog”. A log of his award history can be found, with a little digging, on our website: http://chestnutenglishcockers.com

  • rachelgeordie
    Rachel Romano Kelly August 20, 2013 at 4:20 AM

    Excellent article! My *favorite* part was your mission, not to achieve a specific ranking (that as Mark Johnson so aptly pointed out are often forgotten after a few years) but to have fun and promote your breed/breeding program while traveling around our beautiful country. More people should follow your “fantasy advice”! When my mom introduced me to showing dogs back in the 70’s it was much more about the fun and much less about the rankings. As I introduced my daughter Ania (now the 3rd generation of Willorunn Vizslas) into the sport, I emphasized the importance of FUN and FRIENDS. We have certainly enjoyed some exciting wins along the way (Willorunn Vizslas have been owner-handled to BOB, BOS, BOW and HIT at the Vizsla National, BOB at Westminster, and Ania won Best Junior Handler at the Garden in 2012) but much more importantly made some lifelong friendships and traveled all over the country doing it! Thank you for encouraging others to look at it from this perspective!

  • rachelgeordie
    Rachel Romano Kelly August 21, 2013 at 12:16 PM

    I forgot to add that your “Dream Breed” is one of our favorites too! Ania is the only junior handler to win BJH at Westminster showing an English Cocker Spaniel (her dog Wizard, Am/Can CH Winfree’s Do You Believe in Magic).

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