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The Honorable David C. Merriam will receive the 9th annual Skarda award at the Pedigree banquet tomorrow night, February 8th, in the Grand Ballroom of New Yorks famed Plaza Hotel. Making the presentation, at the black tie affair that honors the years top dog in each breed, will be Merriams nominator, longtime friend and editor of Dog News, Mathew Stander.

Though a longtime dog person, it was not his many personal achievements as a breeder of Bull Terriers and terrier group judge that brought the award to Merriam. It was, rather, his contribution as the man for the correct season. It was Merriam who healed the schism in a fractured board as chairman the past five years. Just prior to that he began the melding of a contentious staff into a working unit in the mid-90s as temporary CEO. He presented a fade of stability to the Dog Fancy worldwide before it was an actual fact.

Merriams involvement in the world of dogs began at the age of 8 with a tri- colored collie named Susie. Like so many others of us, he began in obedience. He acquired his first white Bull Terrier in 1952. Her name was GigiGigi and she got along with his aged collie. And she won a specialty the first time out shown by an inexperience young David. Merriam was hooked. His kennel name was Broadside. It was registered in England and not in the US. When quizzed, Merriam had no explanation for that state of affairs. At times he had as many a 30 animals out on his familys poultry ranch.

Merriams career as a delegate and board member was somewhat checquered. In ’79 he resigned from the board because he felt he was accomplishing nothing. He returned to the board as a delegate from The Santa Cruz K.C. in the early 90s only to be dropped as their delegate at which point he was ineligible as a board member. After the ’96 election he spent 6 months as the acting CEO. In September of that year the new and current President came on board; Merriam was appointed to the board. He is now and has been since the fall of ’96 the delegate for the Duluth Kennel Club. After 5 years a chairman, he now serves as vice-chairman.

Merriam maintains an apartment in New York and his legal residence in San Diego. He enjoys reading, traveling, music and has newly discovered gardening.

The Skarda Committee congratulates David Merriam and welcomes him as its newest member. This year Denny Kodner retires as committee chairperson. The job now passes to Edd Bivin.

The other committee members are:(an asterix signifies previous winner)

Ray Bay*, Maxine Beam, Michelle Billings, Gordon Carvill*, Frank Harra*, Bill Holbrook*, Gene Haupt; Sam Lawrence*, Jim Moses, Mike Skarda, Jud Streicher, Betty Trainor(for Bill)*, Corky Vroom, Gene Zaphiris.

Former members and/ or winners:

Joan Ludwig*, George Ward and Eldon Wilson*.

There have been three special awards. One went to Fema dogs at Oklahoma City. One went to SAR dogs as a result of their efforts in the North Carolina hurricane and floods and one to the lead German Shepherd at ground zero.

All the expenses for the bronze plaques; the creation of the trophy; the expenses of the recipients to come to NY and while they are in New York are entirely underwritten by the committee members. The committee wishes to again express its gratitude to Damara Bolte for her help in overseeing the creation of the bronze trophy and bronze relief placques.

The committee also extends its everlasting gratitude to Pedigree for allowing us the stage on which to present The Skarda Award. The first presentation was made at a Pedigree award banquet as have each of the others. In addition, the committee extends its thanks to the American Kennel Club for allowing it to showcase the Award in its main trophy case in New York City.

And finally, this award could never have come to fruition without those people in the dog world who each year finds someone worthy of being nominated. Without nominations, there can be no award.