Fun In The Sun!
This year’s Eukanuba left the west coast of California for the sun-drenched state of Florida, coming from the grey, wintry Seattle area, the sun and warmth were welcome indeed! As soon as arriving in Orlando, I head straight to the new home of the Eukanuba – the spectacular Orange County Convention Center. This brand new venue is vast, so getting from place to place loaded with camera gear was oftentimes a chore, but it is a very worthwhile adventure.
My brother, Lou Leitao, joins me from Colorado to help me capture this year’s activities in photos and video. It is great to have him here with me because he is a great brother and a talented photographer. As we look over the judging program that night in the hotel room, we know we have our work cut out for us with overlapping ring times and not wanting to miss any good photo opportunities. It is going to be a tight, exciting day and we both cannot wait to meet all of the great dogs and people the next day.
There is an air of anticipation throughout the hotel as the participants walk their dogs from the comforts of their hotel room and move towards the breed rings. As someone who has had my Labrador Retriever – Zeus – at this event in 2008 and 2010, I have a keen understanding of the nerves that go along with a big event such as the Eukanuba and I offer words of “good luck” to anyone we encounter.
The conformation events take up most of the morning and finish up with the Golden Retrievers in the early afternoon. It was sensory overload with all of those great dogs in rings surrounded three-deep with spectators. All of this made for a very special event for the dogs. You could tell that they understood the enormity of this event.
After we finish taking in the retriever conformation rings, we wander through the halls and find the preliminary rounds of the National Obedience Invitational underway. There is a hushed mood in this hall. Obedience events play out more like a chess match than the Super Bowl, but this event is great to watch because of the interaction between the dog and handler.
We decide to wait until the next day to take in the final rounds of obedience so we move on to the Agility Hall. This place is like a party! The energy is electric in this hall and when we get close to the ring, dogs and handlers are racing through a series of jumps, tunnels, a-frames, and teeter-totters. This event is generally dominated by herding breeds so we wait patiently for a retriever and finally see a black Labrador fly through the course. Again Lou and I decide that tomorrow will be even more excitng to watch and shoot as this is still the preliminary rounds for the Agility Invitational.
It’s Tough At The Top
This year at the Eukanuba, retrievers found the top ribbons more elusive than last year’s where they had truly outstanding results. One event where retrievers shined was the AKC National Obedience Invitational where all four of the top spots were filled by Golden Retrievers. In the always highly competitive AKC Agility Invitational, there were three retrievers in the top ten in the 20″ jump division and one retriever in the top ten in the 24′ jump division. Although all of the retriever Best Of Breed representatives in the Sporting Group had a strong showing, they were unable to bring home any of the big ribbons.
National Obedience Invitational
The National Obedience Championship is always is a bit more methodical than the AKC Agility Invitational that is taking place in the other hall, but any obedience events highlight the beauty of the dog-human relationship. The National Obedience Invitational is where this relationship is taken to its pinnacle. The best part is that it is clear that the dogs just love doing obedience work. You can see the anticipation in their eyes as they wait for their handlers to give them the signal for the next exercise.
I bumped into Kathleen Rasinowich-Platt as she is preparing to go into the ring. I wish Kathleen luck and let her get back to the business of getting her Golden Retriever, Buoy, ready for the ring. Kathleen and Buoy were last year’s NOI Champions and they were featured in our April 2011 issue.
As things wrap up in the obedience rings the Golden Retrievers end up on top!
- 2011 AKC National Obedience Champion OTCH Spirit’s Zim Zam Zoom UDX6 OM4 Golden Retriever, owned by Ward Falkner of North Vancouver, BC Canada
- 1st Runner Up NOC OTCH High Times Ris’N Above The Tide UDX13 OGM RE Golden Retriever, owned by Kathleen Rasinowich-Platt of Papillion, NE
- 2nd Runner Up NOC OTCH Dd’s Dreams Do Come True VCD1 UDX18 OGM RE TDX JH Golden Retriever, owned by Dee Dee Anderson & Billy Anderson of Lodi, CA
- 3rd Runner Up OTCH Goldenloch Makin’ A Statement UDX3 OM4 Golden Retriever, owned by Mr. Gary J. Platt of Papillion, NE
The AKC Agility Invitational
Agility is always fast and furious at the Eukanuba. The best agility teams in the US gather to see who will reign supreme. The AKC Agility Invitational is always filled with breeds like Australian Shepherds which are particularly fast movers but there are dogs of all sizes and shapes, each participating at a jump height that suits their breed. But, as one wise agility competitor once told me, “sometimes speed kills”. Accuracy is just as important in this sport so having a very precise dog that moves a bit slower can oftentimes be more successful than a dog that flies around like its hair is on fire!
Although retrievers were not crowned as champions in any of the jump heights this year, they did not go unnoticed in the standings.
- 3rd Place 20″ CH MACH5 Windfall’s Made To Run CD JH OF Flat-Coated Retriever, owned by Teresa Rodney
- 4th Place 20″ MACH9 Lime Creek’s Mie Black Beamer RE JH MXF Labrador Retriever, owned by Mark O’Sell/Ruth Lewis
- 6th PLace 20″ GCH CH Nuka Bay’s Independence Mine UD GO VER RAE3 MX MXJ MXF Chesapeake Bay Retriever, owned by Lynda L Barber-Wiltse
- 9th Place 24″ CH Crosscreek Youghiogheny MX AXJ Chesapeake Bay Retriever, owned by Karen Shaffer
AKC/Eukanuba National Championship
The AKC/Eukanuba National Championship is as good as it gets in terms of a conformation dog show. As an invitation-only show, it is guaranteed to have only the cream of the crop in the ring. Although the retrievers did not garner any of the big ribbons in the Sporting Group this year, we saw excellent dogs in all of the breed rings as well as in the Sporting Group.
The Golden Retriever winners:
- Best Of Breed CH Eagleridge’s Return From Bombay, owned by Dennis L Williams
- Best Of Opposite Sex/Best Bred-By GCH CH Passion’s Natural Woman JH, owned by Heike Stroup
- 1st Award Of Excellence GCH CH Oak Lanes Surfs Up, owned by David & Sandi Christensen
- 2nd Award Of Excellence Chesterfield All My Loving, owned by Marcelo Polansky & Raquel Luna Zarate
- 3rd Award Of Excellence GCH CH Sweetlea’s Follow Me, owned by Susan P Lee
- 4th Award Of Excellence GCH CH Goldensand Lethal Seduction, owned by Joan Stasulis
- 5th Award Of Excellence GCH CH Gemini’s House Of The Rising Sun, owned by Jane Eisenberg & Cindi Metcalf
The Flat-Coated Retriever winners:
- Best Of Breed GCH CH Destiny As Good As It Gets JH, owned by Elizabeth Mound
- Best Of Opposite Sex/Best Bred-By CH Rowansgaard Rosa Mundi, owned by Susan Ware
- 1st Award Of Excellence GCH CH Stormwatch The Perfect Storm JH, owned by Kathryn Leonhardt
- 2nd Award Of Excellence GCH CH Blacklace Magic Mocha Sapphire, owned by Ken & Cathy Johnson
- 3rd Award Of Excellence GCH CH Beacon’s Jesse James II, owned by Cindy Zelbst
- 4th Award Of Excellence GCH CH Beachcliff’s Hello Mr. Sam, owned by Mari Rendich & Deborah Edwards & Mike Zimet
Chesapeake Bay Retrievers
The Chesapeake Bay Retriever winners:
- Best Of Breed GCH CH Cabin Ridge’s Mega Margarita, owned by Cynthia Meyer & Jo G Martin
- Best Of Opposite Sex/Best Bred-By GCH CH Chesabar’s Copper Reflection RN JH, owned by Patsy & Rudy Barber Jr & Diane & Mitchel Horowitz
- 1st Award Of Excellence GCH CH Chesabar’s Anyone Anyone, owned by Tammy Dennis & Debbie Glasser
- 2nd Award Of Excellence GCH CH Calico’s Colonial Rum Fire, owned by Johanna DuWaldt Coutu & Michael Coutu
- 3rd Award Of Excellence CH Twobays No Shenanigans RA, owned by Dawnn D Sykes
The Curly-Coated Retriever winners:
- Best Of Breed GCH CH Clarion’s Blackberry Bramble, owned by Johnnie L & Phyllis L Gentry
- Best Of Opposite Sex GCH CH Kurly Kreek Roll Tide Roll, owned by Mary K & Scott Shifflett
- 1st Award Of Excellence GCH CH Gladrags Original Buttonfly, owned by Robert Cataldo & Michele McGroarty
- 2nd Award Of Excellence/Best Bred-By CH Gladrags New York State Of Mind, owned by Michele Mcgroarty
- 3rd Award Of Excellence GCH CH Softmaple’s Dark Star CDX JH, owned by Connie T & E F Buchanan DVM
The Labrador Retriever winners:
- Best Of Breed – GCH CH Kaltrav Caribbean Cruise JH, owned by Mary Henricks & Cynthia Tripp & Pat Kroll
- Best Of Opposite Sex/Best Bred-By Exhibitor – CH Chablais Chouchou, owned by Jean Louis Blais & Madeleine Charest
- 1st Judge’s Award Of Excellence – GCH CH Thornwood’s Dressed To Thrill, owned by Kevin & Cheri Conway
- 2nd Judge’s Award Of Excellence – GCH CH Tabatha’s Pristine, owned by Carol Heidl/Noel Nivera
- 3rd Judges Award Of Excellence – GCH CH Belquest Deep Run Easy Peasy, owned by Phyllis Giroux DVM & Sheree Moses & Jim Moses
- 4th Judge’s Award Of Excellence – GCH CH Briarwood’s Eye On The Prize, owned by Stacey Sellers & Paul Sellers
- 5th Judges Award Of Excellence – CH Beechcroft Study’s Top Secret, owned by Magdy Caban & Cecilia Martinez & Roberto Rodrigues
Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers
The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever winners:
- Best Of Breed GCH CH Honeyrun Simply Amazing, owned by Debra & Jeffrey Gibbs
- Best Of Opposite Sex GCH CH Pikkinokka’s Lightning Bug, owned by Stacy Einck & Nancie Mages
- 1st Award Of Excellence GCH CH Littleriver Shoot For The Moon, owned by Leslie A Hettinger & James C Jeffery
- 2nd Award Of Excellence CH Cinnstar Kd’s Red Tornado CD, owned by Jeanne Westhoff-Knight & Dee Nichols
- 3rd Award Of Excellence GCH CH Lennoxlove Susqudilla’s Mini Cooper, owned by Robyn Haskin
- 4th Award Of Excellence/Best Bred-By GCH CH Kelticfox’s Daddy’s Wee Lass, owned by Kerri Van Eaton
- 5th Award Of Excellence GCH CH Foxvale Foxbrooke Dare To Cruise, owned by Kristin Lawless & Judy Lawless
The 2011 Eukanuba was such an amazing event! All of the wonderful people and their great dogs made it truly special for us and gave me my “dog fix” while I was on the road. If you have never experienced the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship, The National Obedience Invitational, and The AKC Agility Invitational, I highly recommend it. The events have something for every retriever lover and they will keep you busy from dawn till dusk!
We are still working through the over 7000 pictures we took but we hope this story give you a taste of this awesome experience!