Event Coverage: The 2010 AKC NOI

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2010 AKC National Obedience Invitational Coverage
By Vita Allison

Wow, this is big. This is really big. My friend’s simple statement perfectly summed up the experience of attending the AKC Eukanuba National Championship, referred to as the largest dog show on the planet. We walked through the early morning darkness into the Long Beach, CA Convention Center and Arena. The numerous vendor stalls were still empty, ready unveil treasures to the thousands who would pass by later in the day. We passed the agility arena, smelling the fresh sod, and marveling at the banks of computers, scoreboards, screens and timers now silent.

Upstairs in the Ballroom, the Obedience exhibitors were already primed for action. The stewards had been briefed and the judges were readying their rings. A quiet tension hung in the air. Some exhibitors warmed up their dogs, a few checked last minute details. The six rings filled the center of the ballroom, with spectator seating around the entire perimeter. Since each dog and handler team would perform exercises from the AKC Open and Utility classes in each ring, the fans would have a lot to watch.

To earn an invitation the dog must be ranked in the top ten percent of its breed by OTCH points earned from July 1 to June 30. This was the second year that additional dogs were able to earn invitations through regional qualifying competitions. In 2010 one hundred and seventeen dogs entered the AKC National Obedience Championship, the largest entry ever in Long Beach. Forty-six breeds were shown, representing thirty states and Canada. Golden Retriever fanciers take note: nearly a third of the dogs shown were Goldens!

Every entered team performed selected Open and Utility exercises for each of the six judges in Saturday’s competition. Receiving an invitation is a high honor, but completing Saturday’s marathon competition is truly an experience to be applauded. The scores are tabulated that evening and announced at the banquet Saturday night. The thirty-two top scoring teams (including the top scoring dogs from each group) advance to Sunday’s thrilling tournament style, one-on-one competition. Sunday, the intensity is revved up a notch as the judges work in pairs scoring teams for elimination. It’s a dream setting for trainers and competitors to be able to watch so many exceptional teams show. It can be a tremendous learning experience to see the individual nuances each handler takes into their performance. Many spectators remarked that while they were dazzled by the extraordinary precision of the top teams, they were truly moved by the joy expressed in the teamwork they saw.

At the end of the day, the sixteenth AKC National Obedience Champion was determined to be NOC, OTCH High Times Rise Above the Tide UDX7, OM9, RE proudly owned and trained by Kathleen Rasinowich-Platt, of Nebraska. The five yearold Golden Retriever was bred by Bridget Carlson, who had also placed at the NOI. This team was seeded in first place after Saturday’s competition, and continued to hold the lead to the last ring. This top team earned a placement at last year’s competition also. Kathy says Bouy is a wonderful companion with an outstanding disposition. She says he’s a sweet boy who gives the tiniest, gentle kisses.

The First Runner Up was Petra Ford and her big, black Labrador Retriever NOC, NOC, OTCH Count Tyler Show Me the Money, UDX4, OM1. Tyler was crowned NOC at the last two Invitationals, and won a Reserve at the prestigious Crufts show in England. To learn more about this exciting team, see past issues of DogSport Magazine. Runners-up were: OTCH Teal Oak Spins a Web UDX3, OM2, SH a Golden Retriever owned by Sally Walker of TX, and OTCH Sunsplash No Free Time UDX10, OM7, RE, OA, OAJ, NAP, NJP a Golden owned by Helen Smith of OK.

For more information, all results and photo coverage on the 2010 AKC National Obedience Invitational please visit: http://www.akc.org/events/obedience/national_obedience_invitational/

At the awards ceremony on Sunday my friend and I were thrilled, exhausted and uniquely satisfied. I strongly urge you to plan on attending the 2011 AKC National Obedience Invitational to be held in Orlando, FL on December 17 & 18. It really is the experience of a lifetime!

On a local note, I’d like to send a shout out to our friends at the Sudsy Dog in nearby Lakewood CA. The friendly, professional staff handled muddy feet, soothed jangled nerves, and dealt with one potentially disastrous broken toenail. With their help, several competitors looked as good as they worked.

Vita Allison lives in Southern California and has been participating in a wide variety of Dog Sports with her rescue dogs since the 1960’s. Vita is an AKC Rally judge, preparing to enter the obedience ring again soon. Vita has a wonderful, retired Border Collie, Jet, that has mastered every sport thrown at her and a new Schipperke boy that she hopes will do well in ACK & UKC obedience, tracking, and Rally.