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The American Kennel Club® (AKC®) is pleased to recognize breeding programs from the Sporting, Hound, Working, Terrier, Toy, Non-Sporting and Herding groups as 2021 AKC Breeder of the Year group honorees.

“It is our pleasure to honor this group of esteemed breeders,” said Dennis Sprung, AKC President and CEO. “These individuals have made important contributions to the sport and to the betterment of their breeds. They are committed to ensuring the healthy future of their breed, and dogs bearing the honorees’ kennel names are a testament to their excellent and responsible breeding programs.”

The 2021 AKC Breeder of the Year award winner will be announced during the livestream of the AKC National Championship presented by Royal Canin on Sunday evening, December 19, 2021, which can be watched on

A canine portraitist will be commissioned to commemorate a prominent dog from the Breeder of the Year’s kennel, and their name will be added to the perpetual trophy. All group recipients will receive a medallion in recognition of their achievements.

The group honorees are:

Sporting Group: Dyane Baldwin, Pond Hollow Chesapeakes
Together with her late husband, Dyane Baldwin has been breeding Chesapeake Bay Retrievers since 1976. Her kennel, Pond Hollow Chesapeakes, has produced outstanding dogs for hunting, conformation, field competitions, obedience, tracking, agility and most importantly, healthy and temperamentally sound companions. Pond Hollow is highly regarded in the United States and abroad, with its name on many top-winning Chesapeake Bay Retrievers. Her dogs have achieved many titles, such as Best in National Specialty Show, numerous Awards of Merit, Best of Opposite Sex, and overseas Best in Show, Best of Breed and World Championship titles.

In addition to conformation, Dyane has bred hundreds of AKC-titled dogs in all types of venues, including performance and companion events. Three of Pond Hollow males are in the top ten sires all-time in the breed.

Health has always been important to Dyane in her breeding program. She is actively involved with health research.

Dyane has served the American Chesapeake Bay Retriever Club in many capacities, having held the positions of Secretary, AKC Delegate, and Historian, among others. She received the club’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018 and is currently an AKC judge.

“This passion for the breed has made me many friends and has taken me places I never considered,” says Dyane. “At this point, I can’t imagine my life without these wonderful dogs!”

Hound Group: Susan LaCroix Hamil, Quiet Creek Bloodhounds
Susan LaCroix Hamil is dedicated to bettering the Bloodhound breed through her Quiet Creek kennel. She has produced countless champions, including Best in Show, Best of Breed, Best of Winners and Best of Opposite Sex wins at specialties.

In addition to conformation, Susan has put titles on her dogs in performance events, showing the purpose Bloodhounds are bred for. Her breeding philosophy is “breeding to recognize the original working purpose of the Bloodhound by preserving type and character to produce healthy, well-tempered puppies that can consistently work, show, perform and become beloved companions.”

Susan is focused on canine health and fostering better relationships among breeders, the public and veterinary professionals. She is a board member of the AKC Canine Health Foundation and Orthopedic Foundation for Animals and is a member of the American Bloodhound Club (former delegate) and Bloodhounds West (regional breed club), among others.

Working Group: Cathy and Mike Dugan, Aviator Kennel
Cathy and Mike Dugan founded Aviator Kennel in 1987 with the goal of producing dogs that are healthy, consistently high-quality and are placed with homes where they are treasured and loved. They have produced Dalmatians since 1987 and Portuguese Water Dogs exclusively since 1995. Cathy and Mike have placed more than 400 Portuguese Water Dogs in the United States and around the world.

The Dugans have produced many top-winning Portuguese Water Dogs, including more than 160 AKC Champions in conformation, water work and multiple performance events. Their dogs have achieved over 60 Best in Show wins in the United States and internationally.

Cathy, a retired hospice nurse and AKC judge, and Mike, a lawyer, are members of the Del Valle Kennel Club, the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America and the Portuguese Water Dog Club of Northern California.

Terrier Group: Mary Remer, Banbury Bedrock Bull Terriers
Mary Remer has always loved animals. Her first Bull Terrier arrived in 1971 and attended Boston University with her. She and her mentor, Winkie Mackay-Smith, established Banbury Bedrock Bull Terriers in Pennsylvania and Virginia, breeding and showing award-winning Bull Terriers that have consistently produced dogs at the top echelon of the breed.

Mary’s work in the Banbury Bedrock breeding program and beyond earned her recognition as a Breeder of Merit by the AKC. Spanning over 40 years and producing dozens of Champions, Specialty winners, group winners and placers, some of whom have also earned multiple performance sports titles, the program focuses on health, type, and soundness of mind and body. The overall exceptional quality of Banbury Bedrock dogs is a reflection of the breeding program’s success.

As a two-term President of the BTCA and a long-standing board member, Mary also served on multiple other committees, including the Bar Sinister, Judge’s Selection, Mentorship and Ethics Committees. She has also been an AKC Licensed Judge since 1991, judging in the U.S. and abroad.

In addition to breeding and training champion dogs, Mary has worked tirelessly to change the reputation and the public’s perception of the breed. Over the course of her career, Mary has dedicated her life to improving the quality, temperament and health of Bull Terriers, as well as emphasizing the essential connection between animals and their humans.

Toy Group: David Fitzpatrick, Pequest Pekingese
David Fitzpatrick began his lifelong passion for Pekingese in the early 1970’s. It has proven to be a long and successful path to 2021. With well over 100 homebred champions produced, 17 have become Best in Show winners. Awards have included Best in Show at The Pekingese Club of America, Morris and Essex, Westminster, the AKC National Championship presented by Royal Canin, as well as Best Bred by Exhibitor in Show at the AKC National Championship.

David has had many personal achievements in the sport, including the 2006 Dogs in Review award for Best Professional Handler, 2009 AKC Toy Breeder of the Year, 2009 Pekingese Club of America Mentor of the Year, AKC Outstanding Sportsmanship Award, as well as many Top Breeder Awards.

David is a member of The Pekingese Club of America, The Progressive Dog Club and The Pekingese Club of New Jersey, serving on their boards. He is also a member of the Maryland Kennel Club. The Pequest Pekingese continue working towards their goal of producing healthy, quality dogs with great temperaments that are suitable for the ring as well as companions. David says, “With all the great successes aside, great pleasure comes from the Pekes that end up bringing their unique character and love to companion homes.”

Non-Sporting Group: Connie Wagner, Spotlight Dalmatians
Connie Wagner bought her first Dalmatian in 1982 and has never looked back. She is an AKC Gold Breeder of Merit, having bred many top-winning Dalmatians including a combined total of more than 85 Bests in Show and more than 500 Group 1 wins.

In addition to all-breed dog shows, Spotlight Dalmatians have also been successful at the Dalmatian Club of America National Specialties. Connie’s Dalmatians have achieved five Best of Breed wins, five Best in Futurities as well as numerous Top 20, Winners Dog, Winners Bitch and BOS winners. Three Spotlight Dalmatians currently reside in the Top 10 conformation Dalmatians.

Health and temperament are integral parts of Connie’s breeding program, as all of the Spotlight puppies go to live as someone’s beloved companion.

Herding Group: Guy A. & Thelma J. Mauldin, Kismet Kennels
Guy and Thelma Mauldin have been involved with Shetland Sheepdogs for decades. After acquiring their first Sheltie puppy shortly after they were married, Kismet Kennels was formed and a lifelong commitment to Shelties began.

In addition to breeding countless champions, they spent many years as professional handlers, putting titles on various breeds for themselves and others. They retired from handling in 1995.

They believe in using best breeding practices that allow them to focus on producing healthy, show quality dogs. Kismet Kennels prides itself on following the AKC Shetland Sheepdog standard.

Learn more about the award and past honorees.