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AKC to Select Obedience Team to Compete in First-Ever International Competition at Crufts 2004

— Top OTCH Dogs Will Be Invited To Compete —

The American Kennel Club (AKC) announced today that its Board of Directors approved the establishment of an AKC Obedience Team to compete in the first-ever 2004 Crufts Obedience World Cup Competition. The competition, which will be held concurrently with the Crufts Dog Show in March 2004, is the first time in Crufts' 112-year history that International Obedience will be featured at the prestigious competition.

This year, members of the 2003 AKC Obedience Team, consisting of three canine/handler teams and one alternate team, will be selected from the top Obedience Trial Champion (OTCH) dogs in the country. The four dogs earning the highest number of OTCH points from January 1, 2002 to June 30, 2003 will be invited to participate on the team.

“We are thrilled to be invited to compete at the first-ever 2004 Crufts Obedience World Cup Competition,” said Patricia Krause, AVP of Companion Events for the AKC. “OTCH points will carry a whole new meaning in AKC obedience competitions as canine/handler teams will now have the opportunity to win a spot on the AKC Obedience Team and compete against others from around the world in a spectacular international competition.”

The AKC is developing a plan to offer an International Class competition at future AKC Obedience Trials as a means of qualifying for the team. The finalists will be chosen at the AKC National Obedience Invitational, held in conjunction with the AKC/Eukanuba National Invitational Championship.

Obedience competition demonstrates the usefulness of a dog as a companion to humankind. Dog and handler teams are judged on how closely they match the judge's mental picture of a theoretically perfect performance as they execute a series of specified exercises. Accuracy and precision are essential, but the natural movement of the handler and the willingness and enjoyment of the dog are very important. In 2002, there were 140,503 entries in AKC obedience trials across the U.S.