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UKC Premier Logs 8,000 Entries for 2013 Event

The United Kennel Club has received 8,000 entries for the 20th annual UKC Premier  set for June 13 through 16, 2013, in Kalamazoo, Mich. Those entries will be spread over conformation events and obedience, rally obedience and agility trials. In addition, dogs will be competing in weight-pull, lure-coursing, dock-jumping and lure-coursing events, plus Terrier racing.

If you head to Michigan for the event, you won’t, however, find 8,000 dogs there.  That’s because the UKC’s mission is to promote the “Total Dog,” one that can be in a show ring one day and in a field trial the next. In the case of the Premier, dogs sometimes compete in more than two events in a single day, according to Vice President of Corporate Operations Tanya Raab.

About 1,600 dogs will enter the conformation rings at the 20th annual UKC Premier in Kalamazoo, Mich. Photo by Matt Allocca Photography.

“They’ll participate one day in conformation, obedience and dock jumping,” she says. “They’re always doing something. They hang out there. They don’t just come do their thing and leave. They’re supporting their fellow participants,” she says. “The Premier is like the best health test that’s out there. A dog that’s not healthy and well-built couldn’t do that. They have to be structurally sound to do all those things.”

About 1,600 dogs are expected to descend on the Kalamazoo County Expo Center and Fairground  for what the UKC staff likes to call “Woodstock for Dogs.” Every sport that UKC operates or lends its license to is offered at the Premier – except hunting. However, for the event’s 10th anniversary, hunting trials were included. Don’t worry about the hunters, though. If you head to the UKC website,  the home page, itself, is full of links to upcoming hunting opportunities and results from recent ones.

Terriers can test their speed at the Terrier races on all three days of the Premier. Photo courtesy of United Kennel Club.

Prior to the creation of the Premier, UKC hosted a performance-based event called “Top Dog,” but Fred Miller, the organization’s owner at that time, always wanted to have a comprehensive annual event that would include all of the non-hunting events and all-breed conformation, according to Vicki Reyes, UKC’s publications editor. Even though he told Bloodlines that he’d “dragged his feet” because he didn’t think the organization was ready for such an undertaking, he allowed himself to be convinced to give it a try.

“We finally just did it,” Reyes says, in Detroit at the Michigan State Fairgrounds. “Surprisingly, it wasn’t that hard to pull it together. It was just like putting together a dog show on a larger scale.” She recalls that the staff expected a good entry for conformation that first year, and indeed had 1,266 dogs in the show rings, but was surprised at the number of entries for obedience. In the second year, agility was added, and new events are still added today.

Agility is just one of the sports, along with a conformation placement, with which a dog can qualify for a Total Dog title. Photo by Matt Allocca Photography.

This year’s new event will allow dogs of any breed to try out barn hunt, a new sport that sends dogs scurrying through a maze of straw bales to find a critter in a cage at the end. It’s a bit like earthdog, except it’s open to any breed or mixed breed, and it takes place in an enclosed space so dogs without perfect recall skills can participate. And no one has to dig any tunnels.

Reyes remembers that first Premier 20 years ago well. “It was fun. It’s still fun. I’m amazed at how much it’s grown and how much it includes. It just never stops growing,” she says, adding that the UKC is “very lucky” to have a facility right in Kalamazoo that can accommodate the variety of performance events, as well as all the dogs, people, equipment and even RVs. The expo and fairgrounds have been refurbished over the last two years. A field that was pretty much unusable is now the perfect site for lure coursing. Today, Reyes says, one of her favorite things about the event is the chance to meet the people she talks to on the telephone. She also gets to reconnect with the people who have been to every single Premier.

Dock jumping at the Premier is run by Ultimate Air Dogs. Photo by Matt Allocca Photography.

Raab thinks it’s the atmosphere that motivates people to return year after year. “UKC, in general, is family-oriented, very down-to-earth. It’s like a big family reunion.” It helps, too, she says that the staff is all present, and “we’re very accessible to them, which I think is a huge bonus for us.”

Lure coursing is fun for lots of dogs, and even non-sighthounds can participate on most days. Photo by Matt Allocca Photography.

You can find the premium list here;  below are some highlights:

    • • Conformation all four days;
    • Lure coursing all four days, hosted and licensed by the United Greyhound Club;
    • Dock jumping all four days, hosted by Ultimate Air Dogs;
    • Weight pulls all four days;
    • Agility trials Friday through Sunday;
    • Obedience trials Friday through Sunday;
    • Rally obedience trials Friday through Sunday;
    • Terrier races Friday through Sunday;
    • Barn Hunt fun hunts Friday and Saturday; and
    • Nosework demonstrations Friday and Saturday.

      At the first Premier 20 years ago, only conformation and obedience were offered. Today, both obedience and rally obedience trials are held. Photo courtesy of United Kennel Club.

If you’ve never been to a UKC dog show, you may be surprised to see male dogs in conformation rings without all of the usual equipment. For the last couple of years, Raab explains, UKC has allowed altered dogs to show. Not so obvious may be the fact that no dog can be shown by a professional handler, and Raab says, “A good majority of them are breeder/owner-handlers.”

Bouvier des Flandres GCh. Robbins Majestic Serenade, owned by Rebecca Allen-Robbins and Timothy Robbins, was named Total Dog Best in Show in 2012. Photo courtesy of United Kennel Club.

Something else might be unfamiliar: the Total Dog awards. Dogs that earn a qualifying score in a Premier performance event on Friday, then earn a placement from Best Male or Female of Variety to Group 1 through 4 in conformation on Saturday are eligible for the Total Dog award. Dogs that earned hunting titles prior to April 1 are also eligible. Qualifying dogs take part in the Total Dog qualifier parade and Total Dog Group judging, with one dog taking home the title Total Dog Best in Show.

“There’s something for everyone” is an often-overused phrase, however, in the case of the UKC Premier, it seems appropriate. Even if you haven’t entered, you’re likely to find something to your liking.

Written by

Susan Chaney has been on the editorial side of publishing since 1990, starting her career as a newspaper features writer and editor. A lifelong lover of dogs, Susan has lived with German Shepherds, Labs, Yorkies, an Irish Setter, a Great Dane-Bloodhound mix, a Sheltie and currently a Chihuahua mix of unknown pedigree. She was the editor of Dog Fancy magazine, content editor of DogChannel.com and group editor of Dog World, Dogs USA, Puppies USA, Natural Dog, Cat Fancy, Cats USA and Kittens USA from March 2005 to December 2009 when she left her position to work at home, part-time. Susan lives in Long Beach, Calif., with her artist husband, Tim, that Chi mix and two big cats. As an editor and writer for Best In Show Daily, she is reveling in the amalgam of three loves: writing, editing and dogs.
  • Karen Shivers May 25, 2013 at 2:22 PM

    Hi Susan,
    We will be at Premier with Nosework and doing demonstrations as well as allowing people to try out the sport. We will also be hosting a Pre-Trial test for the first two odors on Sunday. Our demonstrations will be Thursday – Saturday with the trial on Sunday, We are looking forward to Premier! Thanks so much for the coverage of the UKC events!!!

    • Susan Chaney
      Susan Chaney May 30, 2013 at 9:35 AM

      Gosh, Karen, I’m sure lots of people would love to see nosework demonstrated. It’s great that you’ll be there doing demos. It must be wonderful for people and dogs to be able to try various things out at a single event. I hope you get a lot of takers!

  • Jennifer Kaltz May 26, 2013 at 10:49 AM

    Now only if UKC would Allow the ALTERED the same chance at Total dog Awards

    • Susan Chaney
      Susan Chaney May 30, 2013 at 9:39 AM

      Thank you, Jennifer, for joining the conversation. My perception is that most responsible registries seem to like to take things slowly when changing the rules. Change is hard on so many people.

  • Pat Pierce May 30, 2013 at 6:54 AM

    Ditto what Jennifer has said above. When I enter a UKC show with my Altered ASCA Champion Australian Shepherds, I already represent SEVEN ENTRY FEES – Obedience Utility and Open B on one dog, Open B on the other, plus Rally 3 and Rally 2 on both dogs. I would LOVE to put a UKC Altered Championship on both my Aussies, but I won’t be spending any entry money for the Altered conformation classes UNTIL they become eligible for Total Dog! My older male Aussie has pulled off earning High In Trial/High Combined in Obedience, plus High IN Trial Rally, at more than one UKC show. But because he’s Altered, he’s not eligible for Total Dog – even though he outscored and outcompeted every other dog in our primary sports. And YES, we’re coming to Premier to run in the Rally3 and Rally2 All Stars Invitational! UKC’s Total Dog is a coveted, unique award – but it should be open to Altered dogs, too. In the Australian Shepherd Club of America (ASCA), a dog with an Altered Championship, is eligible to compete head to head with the Intact Champions, for High In Trial Champion of Record – wherever it is offered – Stock trials, Obedience trials, Rally Trials, and Agility trials. ASCA’s Altered Championship title is now 11 years old, and has been part of the Hall of Fame Dog/Bitch/Kennel programs for 9 years, in addition to being eligible for the Versatility and Supreme Versatility Championships. Those of us with ASCA Aussies KNOW including Altered dogs in these programs, works to the benefit of owners and breeders; AND, it gets more folks participating in a wider variety of programs. A dog conforming to the Breed Standard in all ways save for it being Altered, should be permitted to compete for Total Dog.

    • Susan Chaney
      Susan Chaney May 30, 2013 at 9:41 AM

      Thanks so much, Pat, for sharing your experience with everyone. I can see how it must be frustrating to have such wonderful, highly trained and skilled dogs that can’t get that final award. Happy to hear that you’ll be at the Premier nonetheless. Hope it’s a fabulous experience for you.

  • Jane Anderson June 3, 2013 at 10:01 AM

    Is there reserved seating available at any of the events/ dog shows? This will be our first time there and we want to take in everything over two days. I believe the big formal show is Saturday night? We want good seats what is the best way to accomplish this?

  • Tanya Raab June 5, 2013 at 2:09 AM

    Thank you for your question. We look forward to welcoming you to PREMIER for the first time. In regards to the formal show, I believe you are referring to the Top Ten Finals competition. This is will actually take place on Thursday and is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. Most of the seats are good seats and there is not reserved seating. First come, first serve, so feel free to come early. Please be sure to look me up, it’s always great to put a face with a name at our events
    Tanya Raab
    Vice President of Corporate Operations, United Kennel Club

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