December Chairman's Report
- Highlights of 2011 -
It was a pleasure to be with many of you in Florida this weekend as we enjoyed the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship, AKC Agility Invitational, AKC National Obedience Invitational and the surrounding festivities. We hope you enjoyed the incredible series of events that unfolded over the weekend.
We are all aware of the trying economic times and their effect on so many aspects of our lives these days, and yet I can say unequivocally that we have a great deal to be thankful for as dog lovers and as members of the wonderful community we know as "the fancy." In 2011 we saw many exciting developments in our sports and in our organization's educational programs.
Many devoted dog fanciers got their start in the obedience ring, so it is fitting to begin a summation of the year's highlights by acknowledging a special milestone in that challenging and rewarding sport: In 2011, AKC Obedience celebrated its 75th anniversary. As one of our foundation sports, Obedience remains today what it was created to be - a proud demonstration of our dogs' instinctual capabilities and talents as companions, and the embodiment of the human-canine bond.
Our cherished traditions in Conformation saw an infusion of new enhancements in 2011. In April of this year we introduced the Grand Championship Achievement Levels to spotlight our highest achievers in the conformation ring. Over two thousand dogs have earned bronze, silver, gold and platinum Grand Championships to date.
We also conceived the AKC Owner Handler Series, a competition specifically designed to celebrate the joys of showing one's own dog. The series will comprise competitions at several dog shows across the country and will culminate with an award for the year's Best Owner/Handler. We feel this is an exciting way to recognize the hobby exhibitor and inspire more people to become involved in our sport.
In unwavering support of our breeders, who remain the backbone of our Registry and the sport of purebred dogs, AKC continued to provide enhanced services through our Breeder of Merit program. Now with more than 6,900 breeders participating in this important program, we are delighted to see growing numbers of breeders joining us in our quest to ensure the growth and integrity of our Registry.
In the world of AKC Agility, we introduced two new titles, the "Time to Beat" titling class and the Preferred Agility Champion title. By creating ongoing enhancements to Agility, we have seen the sport rise to new heights: In 2011 AKC logged its one millionth agility entry. Of course quantity cannot be outdone by quality. I am proud to say that our AKC agility team representing the USA won many accolades including a gold medal at the Agility World Championships in France this year.
It has been said by many a Performance fancier that there is nothing quite like the thrill of witnessing a dog do what it was originally bred to do. Naturally, most of our performance activities are designed for specific breeds, with function and instinct in mind. But in 2011, the AKC Performance Department gave all dogs and their owners an "equal opportunity" program with the new Coursing Ability Test. This introductory lure coursing event is a fun, healthy activity open to all breeds and offers three new titles.
Adding another link in the chain of the human-canine bond, AKC brought our new Therapy Dog program to fruition in 2011. So far more than 1600 dogs have achieved our new therapy dog title which proudly recognizes those dogs who bring comfort and love to so many people in need.
AKC clubs did an incredible job of spreading our message about the joys of owning a purebred dog and the importance of responsible ownership. Together with our parent clubs, AKC welcomed over 40,000 people to the Javits Center for AKC Meet the Breeds. Sponsored by Pet Partners, the event was a record-breaking success, thanks to our hardworking clubs and staff.
Clubs remained hard at work educating the public year round, with a terrific showing in September with our largest set of Responsible Dog Ownership Days to date. More than 600 RDO Day events were celebrated locally and a record-breaking number of Canine Good Citizen tests were a key part of the program. We are so grateful to our clubs for all your hard work and support.
I wish you all a healthy, happy holiday season. Here's to another year of great shows, quality dogs and wonderful friends. And please remember to watch the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship on television if you couldn't make it to Orlando. The show will be broadcast on ABC during Superbowl Weekend, on
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