The awards, sponsored by Purina® Pro Plan®, are presented annually to the seven dogs that win the most Variety Group Firsts at American Kennel Club conformation dog shows during a calendar year, and to the single dog that wins the most Best in Show awards, plus the top obedience dog.
With 68 all-breed BIS wins, black Cocker Spaniel GCh. Casablanca’s Thrilling Seduction claimed the top dog award.
Taking home the most Group Firsts during 2011, each with more than 100 wins each, were:
*Whippet GCh. Starline’s Chanel in the Houng Group, a repeat winner from last year
*Boxer GCh. Winfall Brookwood Styled Dream in the Working Group, a repeat winner from last year
*Cocker Spaniel GCh. Casablanca’s Thrilling Seduction in the Sporting Group
*Skye Terrier GCh. Cragsmoor Buddy Goodman in the Terrier Group
*Pekingese GCh. Palacegarden Malachy in the Toy Group, a repeat winner from last year
*Standard Poodle GCh. Brighton Lakeridge Encore in the Non-Sporting Group
*Bearded Collie GCh. Tolkien Raintree Mister Baggins in the Herding Group, who won last year as well
Honored in Obedience competition was OTCH Wildfire Pilot’s License To Fly UDX33 OGM, a repeat winner from last year.
Also honored during the evening were the winners of the coveted Winkies for Annual Achievement, sponsored by Purina Pro Plan. These winners are selected by votes from their peers. Winkies were awarded for outstanding achievement in the sport of purebred dogs to:
Best Professional Handler – Bill McFadden, a well-respected top handler whose friendliness and good sportsmanship are legendary.
Show of the Year – Morris & Essex Kennel Club, held only every five years on beautiful, manicured grounds. Hosting many specialties and supported entries, the show features a judging panel of top U.S. and international judges.
Judge of the Year – Betty-Anne Stenmark, an extremely popular judge sought after at specialty and all-breed shows alike. On accepting the award, she remarked: “Judging is great fun, the dogs are wonderful and the sport is the greatest sport on Earth.’’
Best Owner-Handler – Armando Angelbello, a strong, smiling and courteous competitor who presents his homebred Miniature Pinschers to perfection.
Outstanding Breeder – William Shelton, Steven Leyerly & Beckie Williams, a trio of top breeders who have made the Coventry Kennel well known to Pembroke Welsh Corgi breeders around the world.
Industry achievement awards were presented to:
Pluis Davern, Trainer of the Year, sponsored by DOG FANCY. Davern is one of the top dog trainers in the United States and has trained more disaster search dogs than anyone in the country. All of the dogs with the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation are trained at her Sundowners Kennels. The dogs are rescues and she personally selects many of them from shelters. “These are dogs that no one wanted, and we give them a purpose.’’ After the Haiti earthquake alone the handler and disaster search dog teams rescued 11 people from under the rubble.
The American Kennel Club also has named Pluis Davern as its 2011 AKC Breeder of the Year. Davern and her Sundowners Sussex Spaniels kennel were honored at the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship on Dec. 18, 2011.
Debra Horvitz DVM, DACVB, Veterinarian of the Year, sponsored by Ceva Animal Health. “It was my dream since I was very young to educate people about the behavior of their pets,’’ said Dr. Horvitz, a nationally and internationally recognized expert on companion animals. In her hometown of St. Louis, Dr. Horvitz helps train behavior Helpline associates at the Missouri Humane Society.
She was accompanied by Theresa Deporter, DVM, MIRCVS, dipomate ECVBM-CA, who had the only dog in attendance, a four-month-old black Labrador Retriever she is raising for Leader Dogs for the Blind. The puppy, named Ceva because she is sponsored by Ceva Animal Health, even has her own Facebook page.
Purina Pro Plan’s Rally to Rescue Program, which focuses on enabling and supporting small pet rescue organizations that may often be overlooked by potential donors and adopters. Rally to Rescue now works with more than 500 of these grassroots organizations, which have rescued more than 500,000 companion animals. The Shelter of the Year Award is sponsored by Adopt-a-Pet.com, North America’s largest non-profit homeless pet adoption website.
Tray Pittman and Paul Flores, Groomer of the Year, sponsored by TropiClean.
At the conclusion of the evening David Frei, the voice of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, presented the Anne Rogers Clark Hall of Fame Award for 2011 to a man he called his best friend in show dogs, Wayne Ferguson. Among his many achievements in dogs, Mr. Ferguson was the leader in the successful effort to revive the Morris & Essex dog show. The annual award goes to the individual who embodies the very best qualities of the show dog sport and who has given a lifetime of contributions to the dog fancy.