The 2011 Eukanuba & The Record Setting Year Leading To It
December 22nd 2011
2011 A Whirlwind Of A Winning Year Culminating At the Eukanuba Championships
There it was, finally Saturday, December 17th 2011, in Orlando Fl. at the much anticipated return of the Eukanuba Invitational Championships now back to its original home, Florida…….after a 5 year hiatus in California.
Here we were, the Herzons and numerous Chambray owners in the thick of the action of the largest congregation of dogs ever in the country, the most attended AKC dog show ever! Yes, even surpassing the grand daddy of them all, Westminster!
The electricity in the air was sizzling and fully charged, the buzz from the totally packed, standing room only crowd became a constant din only dimmed by the occasional loudspeaker announcements.
There was a continued flow of dogs and their handlers/holders to and fro…………..going and coming in every direction within the mammoth, cavernous building housing this most important canine competition event.
AKC officials manning two-wheeling Segways and other electric-type 3 wheelers zipped by, weaving their way through the congested indoor pedestrian traffic………. how they were able to maneuver and not run into people was amazing to me. Somehow the dozens and dozens of people transporters and the massive throng of a crowd melded and moved without incident.
Security for the event was every where with different outfitted, uniformed personnel posted strategically at each entrance and exit of the immense complex, they were present throughout the grooming and crate setups, in between rings special areas were cordoned off for handlers and dogs with special AKC staff checking arm band numbers and wrist bands that were needed to be in those areas.
Scores of vendors were set up all around the super-sized rings and each seemed to be doing great business as all day they were being flocked by the roving crowds. For a change there were far more walk through traffic than just the regulars at these dog shows.
An unusual amount of tourist-looking folk with loads of camera gear stood out from the regular dog show dwellers……………..the fact that most spoke a foreign language validated my observations of them not being “regulars” from those at the run of the mill dog shows. Walking with my dog, I received dozens of requests to have my dog photographed, at times not fully understanding the language being spoken by the photo bugs. I smiled, agreed and accommodated each and every time someone asked to “shoot” my dog and I.
It all felt glitzy and glamorous and somewhat celebrity status-like to have so much attention by the hordes of onlookers. Of course, we the Herzons as most of the other dog handling attendees were dressed to the hilt for this occasion. In my 62 years, I don’t ever recall wearing a double breasted suit, yet here I was…………………..the jeans-wearing guy dressed in a blazing, glimmering GQ getup!
We go to dog shows almost every weekend, but this was immensely different, this was the big time, the big top canine-event of all events. This was special and being there was extraordinary.
We had just competed in this same building the day before at the Orlando dog show and overnight the place had been converted into part razzmatazz, part Brazilian carnival, part British regal affair!
The blue carpeted rings throughout the spacious building created the royal air/flair, the hundreds of gigantic Eukanuba purple banners hanging from the towering ceilings overhead gave it a carnival-party ambiance and the abundant blue and silver AKC flags and emblems waving from flagpoles and tall columns that held up the roof gave it the official seal of approval.
The spacious rings were defined by shiny, silver based stanchions and poles holding up theatrical red velvet rope, giving the feel of a red carpet production. Hundreds of neatly lined chairs flanked three full sides of each ring, with the fourth side of the ring being reserved for handler, dog holders and of course the dogs that were waiting to enter that ring.
This indeed was the pie in the sky for all of dogdom, this was to be the biggest and according to the supreme registry for all that concerns canines in the US, the AKC……….this was the most attended canine event in the country…….ever! It was obvious that the American Kennel Club in partnership with Eukanuba Dog Foods spared no expense in creating this eye-catching canine convention centerpiece!
Just being here was a thrill to last a lifetime, having a single dog qualify was boasting and bragging rights to last a dog-related career, qualifying a record number of 5 bred-by dogs was the ultimate feather in a long career’s-worth hat. Reading the names of the dogs in the voluminous catalog was looking at the premier Labrador breeders in the country, the who’s who of the breed, and yet Chambray boasted the most Bred-By Exhibitor Labrador Retriever champions from this most impressive and spectacular lineup of champions, grand champions, bronze grand champions, silver grand champions, Best In Show champions, Bred-By Exhibitor champions and the top champions from multiple foreign countries!
The timing could not have been better for Chambray Labradors with the return of the Eukanuba to its rightful place, right here in Florida. Our flagship dog, BIS Ch Chambrays Out Of The Ruff, lovingly known as “Hogan” by all that have been touched by him had qualified a record number of times for the preceding 5 year’s worth of ‘by invitation only shows”, however those 5 years Eukanuba was held all the way across the country in California, circumstances kept us from making the time consuming and expense-filled trek there with him.
In a most gratuitous and timely fashion, for the 2011 shows, a special designation was made that would allow a Best In Show veteran to qualify to compete and Hogan, one of only 2 Florida born Labradors to ever win a Best In Show, was to receive one of those very rare invitations. So the return of Eukanuba to Florida would have our top dog of all times be able to strut his stuff in front of the home crowd perhaps one last time, keeping in mind that Hogan turns 8 years old this coming year.
I had the extreme honor of escorting Hogan into the rarefied air of competition amongst the top dogs in the world, some as far away as China, Canada, Brazil and Mexico, these were the #1 dogs from those countries and there would also be the #1 USA Labrador, plus many of the Top 25 Labradors for 2011 that also received the special invitation to compete.
What an emotional thrill it was for me to be there with Hogan in the midst of all that hoopla and pageantry and to make it all even sweeter, there were my wife, daughter and son alongside of me on that special blue carpet with 4 more of our top dogs that each had qualified and each had received the special invitation to this larger than life dog event. Sweeter even was the fact that those 4 other dogs were all Hogan offspring, another record for the canine books!
This indeed was the ultimate magic carpet ride coming at the tail end of 3 back-to-back out of this world dog show years. The 2009, 2010 and this past year 2011 dog show seasons were each record setting, each only to be bested by the next season of shows, making 2011 the winningest year for any breeder in the state…ever!
Befittingly at the end of such a successful yearlong outing, we also qualify a record number of dogs to the big event…………….the Eukanuba Invitational Championships and the timing was as perfect as could be as Eukanuba was back home where it originated.
The results for 2010 were beyond belief and besting them would certainly seem totally out of reach; however the winning streak that started at the beginning of that year in January 2010 and would continue in full stride through the entire 2011 dog show season without skipping a beat. So much so, that the bar was raised and the numbers at the end of 2011 would match and then surpass that record setting year from before.
What does 2012 hold in store for Chambray? The program is in auto pilot with all cylinders stroking smoothly. There are already 2 dogs that have qualified for the 2012 Eukanuba with a possible 4 to 5 more that could very well achieve the requirements to receive the special invitation to the big show. So that the state record of qualifying 5 dogs from one breeder could very well be upped in successive years by the same breeder!
There are a total of 12 Chambray-bred dogs that could conceivably champion out in 2012!!!!! The state record is 3 AKC champions in 1 year, held by Chambray twice, 1997 and 2011………could this coming New Year see that magic number being eclipse with so many of our dogs on the verge of their AKC title?
With so many deserving dogs in the hunt for the precious winners points, will there be enough shows to travel to this coming year to top the wins of the last 3 years, each successive year raising the bar to seemingly insurmountable heights only to see the next year rise and top the previous year’s tallies?
Will there be record numbers of our dogs that qualify? Will we have more champions titled in 2012 than any other record-setting year? Will there be more Winners Dog and Winners Bitch wins than 2011?
Only time will tell and answer the questions above, however one thing is for sure for all of those connected to Chambray Labradors…………we will be there for each and everyone of our owners and their dogs and we will continue to share with all of them the success and accolades that come with that collective success.
With God’s grace we hope to be up and at them and in the thick of things throughout the New Year and make a return visit to the December 2012 Eukanuba Championships with our Chambray dogs and their owners, to once again savor the thrill of achievement.
Someone at Eukanuba made the following comment to me "It must be lonely at the top".
which I replied "Not when I look around and see all those that came with
Click Below For Results
The 2010 & 2011 Spectacular Dog Show Seasons
Back to Reference Library
Back to Home Page