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In its endless pursuit to recognize outstanding members of the fancy, The American Kennel Club Lifetime Achievement Awards were launched in 1998 and are now in its sixth year of honoring the Fancy's best. The purpose of the awards is to celebrate those individuals whose many years of selfless effort have made significant contributions to our sport on a national level. The AKC's President and Chief Executive Officer, Al Cheaur,, will present these awards on Monday, December 1, 2003 at an event coinciding with the AKC/Eukanuba National Invitational Championship.

As in the past, this year's nominees were selected by 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 (in ballots that were mailed the week of July 21st) to cast their vote for one nominee in each of the three categories. This final round of balloting will close on September 30, 2003.

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

Nominees in Conformation:

William Bergum, of Ventura, California, began exhibiting Pekingese in the early 1950s as a breeder/owner/handler. He was approved to judge in 1961 and is now eligible to judge the Sporting, Hound, Terrier, Toy, and Non-Sporting groups as well as eleven Working and seven Herding breeds. He has judged at major venues at home and abroad including the Toy Group at the AKC/Eukanuba American Dog Classic in December 2002.

A lifetime member of the Ventura County Dog Fanciers Association, Mr. Bergum is its past president and former AKC Delegate. For 32 years he was the show chair for the famous Ventura-Santa Barbara weekend of dog shows during its heyday. He was the founding president of the Arizona Pekingese Club, a past member of the Pekingese Club of America's Board of Governors, and a past president and show chair of the Sahuaro State Kennel Club. He enjoyed his twenty years with the Los Angeles Dog Judges Educational Association, and has participated in their annual symposiums.

Mr. Bergum served on The American Kennel Club Board of Directors from 1991-1995. During his tenure, he introduced the concept of back-to-back shows and rekindled interest in the then dormant group show. Both ideas were approved by the Board and are now integral parts of the modern dog show scene. He served on numerous AKC Board committees, is a member of the Southwestern AKC Trial Board, and is a member of the AKC Registered Handlers Advisory Board.

Michele Leathers Billings, of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida, among a family of dog and horse fanciers. In 1952 she moved to Stone Mountain, Georgia, and established Kings Creek Kennels, known for show-quality Beagles and German Shepherd Dogs. She trained, conditioned and handled all breeds professionally until retiring in 1970.

Ms. Billings founded the German Shepherd Dog Club of Atlanta and served as its first president, 1955 – 1959. She began judging in 1972 and is now one of eleven women all-breed judges in the country. She has judged at major shows all over the world, including Best in Show at Westminster in 1988. She judges approximately ten national specialties each year.

Ms. Billings was the recipient of the Gaines Fido award for Woman of the Year in 1983 and won the Kennel Review award for Judge of the Year in 1986. She was inducted into the New York Sports Museum Hall of Fame in 1993, the Nature's Recipe (formerly Quaker Oats) Hall of Fame in 1998 and was one of three nominees for the 2003 AKC Lifetime Achievement Award in Conformation. Ms. Billings possesses a deep and abiding love for dogs and the sport.

Dorothy Macdonald has been involved in dogs since her childhood. She imported her mother's first Yorkshire Terrier in 1955 and helped her breed and show Yorkies for the next 25 years. Miss Macdonald got her first Brittany in 1957 and has bred and competed them to titles in Field, Show and Obedience. She has been an officer and board member for the American Brittany Club and was on their standards and breed video committee. Miss Macdonald has been an officer and show chair for both the Malibu and Del Monte Kennel Clubs. In order to maintain equitable dog legislation in her area, Miss Macdonald was the chair for many years of the Monterey County Animal Control Advisory Committee. In addition to all these duties, she continues to write the breed column for the AKC GAZETTE.

Miss Macdonald was instrumental in helping the then Director of AKC Field Events, Ham Rowan, develop the Hunt Test programs for pointing breeds. In addition, Miss Macdonald has been on the faculty of the AKC Judging Institutes, helped develop the AKC Advanced Judging Institutes, and has been a consultant for many of the AKC Breed videos. She has written and lectured extensively on the history of dogs, both for AKC and the Canadian Kennel Club.

Miss Macdonald has been president of the Dog Judges Association of America for the past ten years and is approved to judge all Toy, Sporting, Hound and Terrier breeds. She has also judged all pointing breed field trials for the last thirty years. Miss Macdonald has judged all over the world and has the honor of judging Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club show in 2001.

Nominees in Companion Events:

Shirlee Jacobson, an obedience judge since 1975, has been a member of the Des Moines Obedience Training Club since 1968, serving as its trial secretary, newsletter editor, training director, and secretary. At present she is serving on the trial committee as an instructor.

Ms. Jacobson is a founding member of the Des Moines Shetland Sheepdog Club, now serving on the show committee and as corresponding secretary. She is also a lifetime member of the Des Moines Kennel Club, currently serving on the board. She is a member of the American Shetland Sheepdog Club and the American Belgian Tervuren Club.

Ms. Jacobson obtained OTCH titles on four Shelties, UDs on three other Shelties, a Keeshond and Belgian Tervuren and has also earned agility titles and breed championships. She is currently showing two Shelties in obedience and agility. For the past twenty years she has been superintendent for the dog show at the Iowa State Fair.

Ms. Jacobson says that judging across the country has given her a great opportunity to meet many wonderful people. She is honored to have been nominated for this prestigious award.

David Maurer, of Urbana, Ohio, became involved in obedience in 1975 when a dislocated shoulder derailed his baseball career. Over the past 28 years he has earned over seven utility degrees and four OTCHs. He considers winning the German Shepherd National and Obedience Victrix award in 1979 as a highlight of his career. His highly successful breeding program is devoted to German Shepherd obedience dogs, several of which have gone on to earn obedience titles and tracking degrees. In all, his dogs have earned more than 50 obedience degrees and four OTCHs.

Mr. Maurer began judging obedience in 1980, crediting George and Louis Pugh with his start. He has since judged the first AKC National Obedience Invitational in St. Louis as well as several other obedience championship events and national specialty shows. A well-known obedience expert, he is a fixture on the seminar circuit.

Mr. Maurer has been a member of the Dayton Dog Training Club for 25 years. In all his years of showing and judging, the real highlight of his career, he says, is the many friends he has met through the sport.

Helen Phillips began her career in purebred dogs in 1964, amassing 107 AKC obedience, tracking, agility and herding titles. Four of her dogs earned both OTCH and TDX, and a fifth was the first herding breed triple champion (CH/OTCH/HC).

During her 40-year membership in Mountain States DTC, Ms. Phillips chaired numerous committees and currently serves as chair for judges' hospitality, trophies and membership. In 1980 she served on the AKC Obedience Advisory Committee. Over the years she has also served as president of Colorado Stockdog Fanciers, and for two terms on the board of directors of the Border Collie Society of America. She was a founding member of Denver Foothills Tracking Association and was founder and first chair of Colorado Canine Search Group, the first canine group utilized by Colorado search and rescue agencies.

Ms. Phillips has used her writing skills as a long-time regular columnist for Front and Finish and has contributed to the AKC GAZETTE. She produced daily newsletters for both Denver-held AKC National Agility Championships. In addition she edited monthly newsletters for numerous obedience, tracking and herding clubs, edited the Mountain States Dog Training Club newsletter for 35 years and for eight years was the editor of Borderlines, a 60-page bi-monthly magazine for the Border Collie Society of America.

Ms. Phillips is the 1998 recipient of the FIDO award as obedience person of the year, and was honored with two Gaines Good Sportsmanship awards. While she is now retired from judging tracking and obedience, she is exhibiting two dogs in obedience, agility and herding. She also teaches competition obedience in addition to running a small sheep farm.

Nominees in Performance:

Dorothy A. Metcalf has been involved with Labrador Retrievers and field trials since the late 1950s. Over the years she has owned and run six Field and Amateur Field Champions and two Amateur Champions.

Mrs. Metcalf served as secretary of the Shrewsbury River Retriever Club in New Jersey, and the Talbot Retriever Club and Women's Field Trial Club in Maryland. From 1985-1990 she was the secretary-treasurer of the National Amateur Retriever Club, and in 1993 she was a judge at the National Amateur Championship Stakes in Hugo, Minnesota.

Mrs. Metcalf has been instrumental in funding the Richard G. and Dorothy A. Metcalf Veterinary Sports Medicine Program at Auburn University and the Dorothy A. and Richard G. Metcalf Endowed Professorship in Veterinary Medical Informatics at Virginia Tech. She is a Millennium Founder of AKC Canine Health Foundation and a member of the board of directors of the Bird Dog Foundation. In September, Mrs. Metcalf was inducted into the Retriever Hall of Fame. She is still competing in Field Trials with her Labradors.

Art Rodger, a lifetime bird and duck hunter, started field training English Springer Spaniels in 1972. He trained and handled six springers, five of which became Amateur Field Champions and the sixth took four 2nd placements and in the 1988 National Amateur Championship placed 3rd.

Mr. Rodger started judging trials in 1988 and completed eight assignments before assuming responsibility for the magazine Spaniels in the Field. The magazine flourished in the 11 years that he was president, publisher and editor, and became known to many as the voice of the field and spaniel world. The well-known and highly respected spaniel authority from Wales, Keith Erlandson, wrote that Spaniels in the Field is the only magazine published anywhere in the world which covers spaniels exclusively and in-depth. It's only comparable equivalent in any breed is the excellent Bulletin du Club Fran ais du Braque Allemande.

Mr. Rodger served on the Board of Governors of the English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association for 6 years, and 4 years as a vice president.

Delmar Smith has devoted a lifetime to the sport as a breeder, trainer, and judge of gun dogs and bird dogs. His success in various endeavors led to his induction into the Field Trial Hall of Fame in 1998.

Training dogs is second nature to Mr. Smith, who was born in Big Cabin, Oklahoma, the birthplace of many dog trainers of national repute. He grew up on a ranch, where he spent his childhood riding horseback to and from school. During the summer he learned his trade by working for local dog trainers.
He has bred, trained and handled his Brittanys to numerous National Championships, and helped to initiate the first Shooting Dog stakes, the U.S. Brittany Championship, the Fleetwood Classic, and the International Endurance Championship.

Mr. Smith is one of America's most respected trainers, teaching The Delmar Smith Method in seminars throughout the country. Many of his students have excelled in the sport and attribute their success to his tutelage.
Mr. Smith is also in demand as an AKC field trial judge. His assignments have taken him throughout the United States and Canada, where he has judged regional and national championships. It is important for Mr. Smith to give back to the sport that has been so good to him. Besides teaching and judging, he is a generous supporter of the Bird Dog Foundation and the Field Trial Hall of Fame.

Mr. Smith was married for 50 years to a trainer's daughter, Jeanne Epperson, until her death. Together they raised three sons, two of whom reached adulthood and are now professional trainers themselves.