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In its ongoing pursuit to recognize outstanding members of the fancy, The American Kennel Club Lifetime Achievement Awards were created and first awarded in 1999 to honor our very best. The purpose of the awards is to celebrate those individuals whose many years of dedication have led to significant contributions to our sport on a national level.

As in the past, this year’s nominees were selected by AKC member clubs that cast their votes for one nominee in each of three categories: Conformation, Companion Events, and Performance. The three nominees receiving the most votes in each category were selected as the finalists. Member clubs have now been asked to cast their vote for one nominee in each of the three categories. This final round of balloting will close on Tuesday, October 25th, 2016. A special awards presentation will be held in conjunction with the AKC National Championship presented by Royal Canin in Orlando, Florida on December 17th and 18th.

The AKC is honored to present photos and bios of the nine finalists who were selected by our member clubs in recognition of their exemplary participation in the fancy.

Nominees in Conformation

Thomas H. Bradley

Thomas H. Bradley, 3d, of Watertown, New York, began in dogs in 1954 with German Shorthaired Pointers. He exhibited at his first point shows in 1955 at Adirondack Kennel Club in Lake Placid, New York.

Under his Luftnase prefix, Tom bred a number of sporting breeds, including Pointers, German Shorthairs, English Cocker Spaniels, and Labrador Retrievers. His last breeding produced a litter of four Border Terriers, all AKC champions. Career highlights as a breeder include “Finishing five champions in our second litter of Labradors in the mid 1980’s” and being co-breeder of Pointer Ch. Luftnase Albelarm Bee’s Knees, the top dog, all breeds, of 1981.

Tom was approved to judge German Shorthaired Pointers, German Wirehaired Pointers, and Weimaraners in 1965. He now judges all sporting breeds and Best in Show. “My first BIS assignment was Santa Barbara, 1975, and it was before I ever judged a Sporting Group. The entry, I believe, was over 4,000 dogs. I can still tell you the six group winners!” Among his most memorable judging assignments are judging the Irish Setter Club of America National Specialty four times.

One of Tom’s greatest pleasures is mentoring aspiring Sporting Dog judges and admiring their successes. His article, – How I Judge Pointers- written many years ago, is still used by the APC in their Judges Education Program.

Tom has been show-committee chairman for the Westminster Kennel Club show since 2002, retiring from that position in May of this year. In addition, he feels that being a co-founder of Take The Lead, plus his twenty-four years as the volunteer executive director, represents his most important and satisfying contribution to our sport. He enjoys everything associated with dogs, friends, traveling, cooking, local charity work and family time.

Patricia W. Laurans

Patricia W. Laurans, of Newtown, Connecticut, has been active in dogs for over 50 years as an exhibitor, all-breed handler and breeder of Best in Show, National Specialty winning and top producing German Wirehaired Pointers.

She has served as Delegate for the German Wirehaired Pointer Club of America for over 30 years. During that time she was elected to the AKC Board of Directors and started an AKC Breeders Education program and helped establish the Junior Scholarship program.

When Pat left the Board of Directors in 2000 she was elected to the Parent Club Committee and has served as its Chairperson from 2000 to the present. During this tenure she helped establish the Parent Club Conference Program and chaired three National Parent Club Conferences. In 2013 she helped establish the AKC Reunite Pet Disaster Trailer Program and serves as its co-chairman.

Pat is a founder and a Vice President of Take The Lead, a charitable organization that assists individuals in the sport of dogs who have terminal or life threatening illnesses as well as those experiencing emergencies such as floods, fires or accidents.

Pat judges four and a half groups and loves doing it. She has judged on five continents and across the United States and Canada, including numerous National Specialties. At the AKC National Championship Show and the Westminster Kennel Club Show she has judged many breeds, five Groups, two Junior Finals and one Best Bred by Exhibitor in Show.

When Pat got the call telling her about this nomination she was shocked and delighted, most importantly tremendously honored. She is very happy to be included with two great dog men who have contributed so much – Tom Bradley and David Merriam.

Hon. David C. Merriam

Hon. David C. Merriam, of Bonsall, California, entered the Sport at 14 with a white Bull Terrier bitch. The ensuing 64 years have been both eventful and rewarding. His first Bull Terrier litter was whelped in 1954 and his most recent in July of last year. His dogs have won numerous All-Breed Best in Shows, Terrier Groups and Specialties, all owner handled.

David was approved to judge Bull Terriers in 1996 and later to judge the Terrier Group and Best in Show. Judging highlights include the groups at the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship (twice), Montgomery County Kennel Club (twice), and Westminster Kennel Club. In 2015, David was the Westminster Kennel Club’s Best in Show judge. Foreign assignments include Crufts in 2001 and 2013, the World Show in Mexico and at least 10 other countries.

David was an AKC Delegate for more than 25 years and served as AKC’s Chief Executive Officer in 1996. He was AKC Chairman (1996–2002), and Vice Chair (2002–2009). Club offices include President of the Bull Terrier Club of America (1995-1997); Vice President and Show Chairman of Montgomery County Kennel Club in 2009; Show Chairman for Kennel Club of Riverside for 14 years; and President of the Golden State Bull Terrier Club when he was still in law school.

David has been recognized with multiple awards. In 2003 he was the recipient of the Bull Terrier Club of America’s Lifetime Achievement and Langdon Skarda awards. He is also the recipient of Dogdom’s Writer of the Year (1987) and Dogdom’s Man of the Year (1996).

During his years in the Sport, David somehow found time to be a successful lawyer and trial court judge.

Nominees in Companion Events

Susan B. Bluford

Susan (Suzi) B. Bluford of Carmel, California, is so grateful and honored to be nominated once again for this prestigious award.

She began in the sport of AKC dogs during the early 1970’s with her first dog- Golden Retriever “Wendy”, who became a breed CH, UD, WC. Suzi was hooked in all areas of the sport! In 1977, her Golden Retriever, “Streaker”, was the number one obedience dog in the United States as well as a breed champion and an owner-handled group winner. She is an active participant in conformation, obedience, rally, tracking, retriever hunt tests and field trials, herding, nosework and agility, and bred “Dasu Goldens” for many years. Her Golden, “Rabbit”, earned her CH entirely from the BBE class and her Golden Retriever, “Allie”, qualified for the AKC National Agility Championship four years in a row.

Suzi is a member of the Golden Retriever Club of America, the NORCAL Golden

Retriever Club, the National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors (NADOI) and served as the organization’s corresponding secretary for six years. She is also a founding member and consultant for the therapy dog program at her local hospital.

Suzi has been an AKC judge since 1985 and is currently approved for all levels of AKC obedience, rally and agility. In the past, she has judged many AKC retriever hunt tests at the Master Level. She has served as show and obedience chair for the NORCAL Golden Retriever Club specialty and also chaired the Del Monte Kennel Club’s annual agility trials as well as their obedience program. Suzi is a life member of Del Monte Kennel Club and was presented with the AKC Outstanding Sportsmanship Award.

Elizabeth Chase

Elizabeth (Tibby) Chase, of Monson, Massachusetts, desperately wanted a Welsh pony as a child, but her sensible parents presented her with a Pembroke Welsh Corgi. This little dog introduced Tibby to the challenging world of dog training and was her first high in trial dog in 1961. She has been involved with dogs, dog training and Corgis ever since.

While obedience is her first love, Tibby has successfully trained and shown dogs in rally, tracking, agility, herding, and conformation. One ‘special’ Pembroke, “Tyler”, Ch. Heronsway Free Style UDT ROMX, is one of a few obedience titled dogs to win the breed at Westminster. In very limited breeding, Tibby produced several Pembroke champions and others that excelled in obedience, herding and agility.

She is active in several all-breed, Corgi specialty, tracking, agility and obedience clubs. For 40+years, Tibby has taught obedience, puppy, CGC and therapy classes. As a 4H leader for 20 years, she helped many young people learn about dogs and continues to support the program. Tibby also volunteers as an AKC Canine Ambassador in local schools and participates in the Bright Spot Therapy dog program.

Tibby has judged AKC obedience since 1990 and Rally since 2006. As a judge, she sees her role as upholding AKC standards while infusing her assignment with encouragement and kindness. She wants each exhibitor, no matter what their breed, to take joy in their achievement. She finds it sad when people say their dog is not an obedience breed. All dogs can be obedience dogs. Obedience training is the backbone of all dog sports and responsible dog ownership, creating essential communication tools between dogs and their owners. Tibby is honored to have been involved with this great sport that has given her so much.

Nancy Craig

Nancy Craig, of Riverside, California, is extremely honored to be a finalist for the AKC Lifetime Achievement Award in   Companion Events. Her life in pure-bred dogs began in 1966 when she and her husband Walt acquired Topper, a Shetland Sheepdog. She took him to a local training school and found out about such things as obedience trials. Topper went on to earn his CDX. Several of Nancy’s dogs finished conformation championships, obedience and agility titles, with three of them winning the Herding group.

After acquiring Ace, Nancy’s first Champion and first UD, she started judging sanctioned matches for conformation and obedience and decided that being an obedience judge was what she wanted to pursue. It was Ace’s antics in the utility ring that taught her empathy for the exhibitor! After finishing her second UD on Ace’s daughter, Nicki, she applied to judge Novice. Nancy’s first judging assignment was in the fall of 1981. Over the past 35 years she has enjoyed judging some of the finest obedience teams in the country. She had the honor of judging the Excellent RAE class at the 2016 AKC Rally National in Tulsa.

Nancy is a Life Member of Scottsdale Dog Fanciers Association, Mid-Arizona Shetland Sheepdog Club, Phoenix Field and Obedience Club, and held various offices in those clubs over the years. She has taught obedience for PFOC for many years. She is also a 30+ year member of the Collie Club of America. Her main club activities now involve the American Shetland Sheepdog Association where she served until recently as Performance Chairman, overseeing obedience/rally, agility and herding at National Specialties. Nancy is also a Director at Large and a recipient of the ASSA Outstanding Service Award.

Nominees in Performance Events

Jim Campbell

Jim Campbell, of Marrero, Louisiana, grew up in in rural Mississippi in the 1950’s and 60’s. Rabbit hunting with grade beagles instilled in him a love for the sport. In 1978 he got his first AKC registered beagles. After moving to New Orleans he met Maurice Ellis, Rannie Ladner and Tommy Moffet. Jim gives credit to them for teaching him what to look for in a hound and how to condition them. His first good dog was Jazztown T-Beau, who had a great nose, outstanding line control and check work that set the standard for what he looks for in a dog to this day.

Jim has bred many worthy hounds over the years, seven of which finished as AKC field champions. He finished four field champions himself, two of which went on to win the AKC SPO Nationals. FC JO’s Hustler won the Southern States Championship twice. FC Huff’s Riverland Charter won the SPO Nationals in 2007, and to date has produced six field champions. Jim also owned Tommy’s Talking Deacon and Blue Ann. The latest field champion that he finished is FC JO’s Shaq.

Jim has served as Secretary/Treasurer and Field Trial Secretary for Tchopitoulas Beagle Club. He is a past member of several other beagle clubs including Great Southern, South Mississippi, Houma, Ponchartrain, Acadiana and Choctaw. He served as President and Vice-President of the AKC SPO Nationals for four years. Jim is a member of the Southern States Beaglers Hall of Fame and currently serves on the Beagle Advisory Committee (BAC) with AKC.

Jim has earned the respect of his fellow beaglers as a serious competitor, a leader, and someone who is always there to help.

Teri Dickinson

Teri Dickinson, of Lucas, TX, began her performance career with a mixed-breed dog she trained and entered in an obedience fun match. That led to the acquisition of her first Italian Greyhound in 1984, who went on to become an American Canadian Champion and Utility Dog. After putting dual titles on several more Italian Greyhounds, Teri became interested in lure coursing and other lure sports. As a board member of the Italian Greyhound Club of America, she led a successful campaign to have Italian Greyhounds added to eligible coursing breeds.

She and husband, Jack Downing, bred Italian Greyhounds under the Whirlwind prefix and participated in conformation, coursing, agility and amateur racing. Teri bred the first AKC dual champion, DC Whirlwind Blew By You LCM OA NAJ GRC JOR MC. In 2002, her once-in-a-lifetime dog, DC Whirlwind Ice Cold Beer LCX2 LCM4 SGRC ORC VFCh was ranked Number One in AKC and ASFA Coursing and a Top Ten conformation dog, after winning the IGCA futurity in 2001.

Teri is a lifetime member of the Italian Greyhound Club of America and served the club in various positions including board member, health chair and performance events chair. As IGCA health chair she led a number of projects including the first breed health survey, a project to collect DNA to search for genetic causes of diseases such as progressive retinal atrophy and epilepsy, as well as instituting health clinics at IGCA specialties. She was also instrumental in defining health guidelines for IG’s as a requirement for nominating litters to the IGCA Futurity. Teri helped create the first IGCA web site and served as the IGCA webmaster for over 10 years as well as a regular contributor to the Italian Greyhound magazine.

Melody Fair

Melody Fair, of Noti, Oregon, and husband Roy, acquired their first Basset Hound, Misty in late 1970. Misty was their first title holder, earning her CD. Bassets have always been Melody’s primary breed, but over the years other breeds have graced their couch: four Newfoundlands, a Pembroke, a Borzoi, a retired racing Greyhound and the newest addition, a Doberman.

The Bassets have earned titles in the show ring, Field Trials (over 20 Field Championships), Tracking, TD (working on number 16), TDX (working on number 6), and still hopeful for an elusive VST. Over 10 of her Bassets have earned Dual championships. They have earned titles and/or competed in Obedience, Rally, Agility, Coursing Ability, BHCA Hunting Performance Test and NACSW K9 Nosework. Many have earned BHCA Grand Field Championships, BHCA Register of Merit recognition, and BHCA Versatility and Versatility Excellent status. The Newfoundlands have earned Obedience and Tracking titles.

Melody is an AKC conformation judge (Basset Hounds, Borzoi, Dachshunds, Pembroke Welsh Corgis and Junior Showmanship) and an AKC judge for Basset, Beagle and Dachshund field trials.

She has served the Basset Hound Club of America as Treasurer, Director, and Corresponding Secretary. Melody serves on the BHCA Versatility Committee, served as “Tally Ho” Editor, Hunt Test Chair and member of the By-Laws Committee. She is President of Emerald Dog Obedience Club and has been chairman/secretary for many Obedience and Tracking events. She is an instructor for Tracking, Obedience and Rally and is the club’s CGC Evaluator. Melody is a long-time member of three Basset Hound Clubs, serving as an officer, chair and/or committee member for Timberline Basset Hound Club in Colorado, Emerald Empire Basset Hound Fanciers and the Basset Hound Club of Portland Oregon.