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The American Kennel Club® (AKC) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 AKC® Lifetime Achievement Awards: Patti L. Strand (Conformation), John Cox (Companion Events) and John Russell (Performance).

The Awards, first created and awarded in 1999, are presented in recognition of exceptional participation and achievement within the dog fancy. The finalists and winners, based on nominations from AKC member clubs, have impacted the dog sport on a national level through club involvement, judging, exhibiting, breeding and teaching.

The honorees, who were selected from votes cast by AKC member clubs, will receive engraved Revere bowls on Friday, December 11, 2015 at the Delegates luncheon held in conjunction with the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship in Orlando, Florida. A sterling silver Tiffany and Co. bowl, engraved with the names of all recipients past and present, is on permanent display at AKC headquarters in New York City.

The 2016 recipients are:

Conformation: Patti L. Strand of Portland, Oregon

Patti started in the dog world with a pet Dalmatian. Attendance at a fun match while in college caused Patti and husband Rod to jump wholeheartedly into the sport of purebred dogs more than 46 years ago. To this day they remain captivated.

Rod and Patti developed the influential Dalmatian bloodline, Merry-Go-Round Dalmatians, known for good health and temperament and for producing some of the top-winning Dalmatians in history. They were the recipients of the 2014 Non-Sporting Group Breeder of the Year Award. The Strand’s co-authored An Owner’s Guide to a Happy Healthy Dalmatian. Patti was twice honored to judge the DCA National.

As anti-breeder legislation and anti-purebred sentiment mushroomed in the late 1980’s, Patti found herself lobbying, writing articles and forming alliances advocating purebred dogs. In 1991 she co-founded the National Animal Interest Alliance (NAIA), an advocacy organization dedicated to preserving the human-animal bond, raising animal welfare standards, countering negative propaganda and protecting the rights of responsible animal owners. Today, NAIA is nationally prominent, and is routinely cited in mainstream media. In 1992 Patti and Rod co-authored the first US book on animal rights extremism, The Hijacking of the Humane Movement: Animal Extremism. Patti was named the 1993 Dogdom’s “Woman of the Year” and received the Fido Award for her advocacy of purebred dogs and responsible dog ownership.

In 1995, Patti was elected to the AKC Board of Directors, serving four consecutive terms. She devotes her local volunteer time to Rose City Classic to help produce the best shows possible. Patti is motivated by her high regard and affection for the skilled and dedicated breeders, owners and trainers who make up the purebred dog community.

Companion Events: John Cox of Shoreline, Washington

John received his first Saint Bernard, Nicklus, in 1969. This puppy went on to become the breed’s most-titled (at the time) American and Canadian Champion, as well as American and Canadian Utility Dog. Since Nicklus, John has lived with eight other Saints earning additional championships and UDTs, and a Pembroke Welsh Corgi earning a Tracking title.

He started all over again in 1998, with a Saint puppy Kris, imported from Belgium. Kris surpassed John’s other Saint’s record as the most-titled Saint Bernard Champion with 39 titles to his name (nine Master titles in Agility, UDT, TD, RAE2, DD, plus a VCD2.) His current Saint, Ms. May, completed her Bronze Grand Championship along with a BN, PCD, GN, PCDX, CDX, CGCA. She now holds the breed’s record as the most-titled Grand Champion at the different levels. All John’s dogs are owner-handled to all titles.

John started judging AKC obedience in 1978, making 2015 his 37th year of judging. Over the years he has been writing the “Dog Talk” and “Random Little Tidbits” articles for Front & Finish. It is his hope that the articles will point out to handlers where points can come off and maybe the team’s scores will go up with a better understanding of the Obedience Regulations. It is not always the dog that errors!

After 40 years of research, John has built a Saint Bernard National Archives with data on the Saint Bernard reaching back to 1879. The Archives has the names of every Saint Bernard who earned AKC titles, plus conformation/performance records, firsts of the breed, and records of the breed.

Performance: John Russell of Gainesville, Texas

John began in retriever field trials in 1970 at age 20. He became a member of the Colonial Retriever Club, holding several positions, starting as game steward and moving on to field trial chairman. He judged his first licensed field trial in 1975 and has been an active judge ever since.

John made his first amateur field champion in 1981, and his first field champion in 1984. Since then, he and his wife Martha have had 14 additional field champions. John has had two National Amateur Field Champions, and was the co-breeder of 2013 National Field Champion Trumarc's Dot Come.

In 2003, his NAFC-FC Adam's Acres Cherokee Rose earned 268 all-age points qualifying for sixteen consecutive national championships (2nd most all time), and completed 8 (also 2nd all time). In 2014 NAFC-FC Texas Troubadour won the national championship. Their 2014 NAFC was the first pure amateur-trained national winner in more than 30 years. Martha and John do all of their own training.

John has had six double-headers with four different dogs. In retriever field trials a double header is when the same handler wins the open and amateur at the same trial with the same dog.

He served as National Amateur Retriever Club Vice President (1996-1999), President (2000), and Secretary/Treasurer (2000-2007). He has served on the National Championship Gun Committee since 1993.

John is an AKC Delegate and was elected to the Delegates Field Trial and Hunting Test Events Committee. He serves on the Retriever Advisory Board and was appointed Chairman in June. He currently serves on the Performance Events Trial Board.

For more about the recipients and the award, visit the Lifetime Achievement Award page

AKC Member Clubs voted for Patti L. Strand (Conformation), John Cox (Companion Events) and John Russell (Performance).