Flashback To Greatness
Time stood still and then flashed back to yesteryear on Sunday, October 24th, 2004! The venue was the Orlando, Fl. UCI International Dog Show Cluster, a 2-day, 4-show event, attended by hundreds of dogs of known breeds and also rare breeds not even recognized by the AKC.
As the day’s competition wound down from Best of Breed of each breed to those that won a Group 1 from the designated Groups, standing outside the ring were the 9 dogs that had been through the arduous selection process that had started at daybreak, now some 10 hours later, all were ready for the final go-round. The final nod by the designated panel of judges, would receive the highest and most revered award of all at this gathering of canines and their owners, handlers and breeders. The final competition at a dog show is the Best In Show event.
Best In Show, what every exhibitor, breeder and handler at a dog show dreams of winning, in fact just making it into the Best In Show ring at day’s end, is a major bragging right in the realm of dog shows. It is the thing that dreams are made of, it is the icing on the cake, the pinnacle of success, the ultimate thrill of victory, as the infamous commercial says, "It doesn't get any better than this!"
The ring steward’s voice loomed large over the crowd's din, over the crate rattling and over all the dogs whining and barking, “Best In Show Veteran judging is about to begin”, bellowed the foghorn voice.
A steady stream of well-worn, former great, now aged, some hobbling, some trudging, most happy-to-be-out-again canine companions made their entrance into the ring for this very noble and well-deserved return to glory-event. The judge’s job is to select from the lineup of yesteryear’s superstars the one specimen that has held up to the ravages of time the best and still exemplifies the breed to the very best. Bear in mind, that dogs will age almost 10 times faster than their human counterparts, so that an 8-year old dog, is comparable to a very elderly person. The veteran class is for those elderly canines
The ring entrance was completed and standing before the 3-judge panel were 9 retired champions of different breeds. Looking over their assignments, one of the judges assumed the narrator's duties and commanded the handlers with, “Okay folks, let’s take our old friends one good time around the ring.”
That’s when it happened, that's when time stood still and a great dog of the near past flashed back to her day's of glory! For those next fleeting moments, time stood still for 8 year-old Am/Int Ch Chambrays Chisholm Chancey CGC, and she transported herself back to when she was in her show prime taking her now-handler, 15-year old Jessie Herzon along for the ride. Yes, Chancey was to go back in time to the days when she was at the top of her show career, winning her AKC champion’s title, winning an unprecedented 9 Best of Breeds, 5 Group placements, back to the days before Jessie had ever won a single point with any show dog, back to the days when it was Jessie's mother, Johanna at the helm of the dynamic duo.
Chance and Jessie went to work, Jessie now one of the top junior handlers in the country, now at 15 years of age, many compare her with the top professionals in the business, now having pointed well over 15 different Labradors, having titled her own Labrador, Connie and her own Pointer, Meadowlark, having titled another champion, Am/Nat Ch Chambrays Twist of Fate and handled her to qualify for the 2004 Eukanuba Championship and taking her to the #1 Labrador ranking from Florida, plus handling a dozen other breeds to points plus finishing a Clumber and a Chow, Jessie was in for a treat as Chancey was about to elevate Jessie handling experience to stellar heights.
As the handlers and their dogs made their way around the ring, it was Chancey that would rekindle her passion for showing and transcend through the age barrier and return to days long gone. It was obvious for all to see, the old girl, “Momma” as she is lovingly called by those that know her well, would somehow reach deep down and glow brighter than all of the other time-worn, title-holders that shared the spotlight with her on this given day. Although some of those that stood with her in this veteran's showcase were still magnificent examples of the breeds that they represented, the judges just could not deny Chancey’s effervescent charisma and willingness to please her handler and strut her stuff in front of the crowd gathered around the last remaining ring.
It would be a gift that Chancey would share with Jessie, a gift that I had experienced myself and a gift that her primary handler, Jessie’s mom, Johanna had experienced time and time again during Chancey's extraordinary, galactic show career. Chancey was born to show and show she did, in her time becoming the winningest female Labrador from our kennel. What a sight it was to see Chancey and Johanna in the ring together, what a team they were. Once in the ring, they were the ones to beat, yet few accomplished what Chancey and Johanna did. In every endeavor there are always those that stand out, Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire were that on the big screen's dance floor, Laurel and Hardy were incomparable in their comedy skits, Batman and Robin in their fight against crime and then there was Chancey and Johanna, Chambray Labrador's dynamic duo in the Labrador show ring.
Indeed, a true flashback to greatness, time-stopping event for now it was another Herzon that would savor the exquisite taste of a true show dog plying what she does best, to show in the show ring. For their incomparable performance, the 3-judge panel would concur and present Chancey and Jessie with the highest accolade at a dog show, the highest award possible at day’s end, the bestowment of a well-deserved, time-transcending Best In Show.
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