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The American Boxer Club National Specialty

By StephanieAbraham

The 56th Annual American Boxer Club National Specialty found boxer lovers from all over the nation and indeed the world staked out at the Holiday Inn FSK in Frederick, MD from May 9-14th. The turnout was enormous---647 dogs and 945 total entries. The ABC is the boxer world’s "Show of Shows," the quintessential parade of the best and the brightest, and this year we had even more excitement, tinged with sadness, than in past years. The BOB winner was a grand Veteran of nearly 8; the WB was a so-called "plain" 7-mo. old puppy; and long-time handler Dick Baum, fighting his long illness to the end, said good-bye to his many friends.

Sunday opened with 65 Obedience entries in the big ballroom, judged by James Thomas Winn and Dr. William Wisecup. High in Trial from Novice B, in a run-off, with a score of 196+, was Ch Sunchase's Zero to Hero, owned and bred by Tracy Hendrickson. High Combined was My Sweet Suzette UDX AX AXJ, owned and bred by Jim and Ruth Hutchins. And another nice note - from Novice A, with a score of 184, was a 9-year-old bitch, Dasel's Calista V Jupiter, owned by Candy Boyd. What's that adage about old dogs and new tricks? For those relaxing after their efforts, or just plain glad to stop driving, there was a scrumptious oyster stew and lots of good fellowship to be found at the Hughes/Horne parking lot party - this year attended by an intimate number close to 300!

Monday, the first day of the Futurity, drew 142 puppies to the big ring outside under lovely cool sunshine---William Truesdale, DVM presiding. A true breeder's showcase, a win here is one of the most prestigious in our sport. After all the whittling down of the classes and age division winners, one brindle boy from 9-12 mo. was left standing as the First Prize Futurity" Winner Puppy---Rummer Run's Major General, owned and bred by Steve and Ann Anderson, handled by Rick Justice. Tuesday, 107 Juniors strutted their "stuff" as the weather gods continued to smile. At the end of the day the Best Junior was the already crowned Ch Syrr Run's Omega Connemara, a 15-18 mo. fawn bitch owned by Marion and Laurence Hughes and bred by Larry and Becky and Kay Horne. As their owners of the two top winners held their breaths, Dr.Truesdale gave the nod to the puppy as the ultimate Grand Prize Futurity Winner, and the 55th Futurity was history.

The Agility Trial was run outside on Monday - in the same ring as the Futurity. Never again! No boxer worth his proverbial salt was going to pass up the liver treats strewn all around the grassy area! As owners winced, the boxers had a lovely time, and amply displayed their fabled sense of humor, much to the delight of the gallery. So 58 worthy entrants were handicapped in their quest to demonstrate their expertise in this very popular exercise that is "duck soup" for the active, intelligent, and playful boxer. But no matter - we did have several qualifiers in Jumpers With Weaves. High in Agility Trial was Ella Du Pree's Karosel's Brass Ring, who managed to keep his mind on business and achieved a terrific 3.9 yards/second!

Monday evening the Top Twenty Competition was held indoors in the ballroom. Handlers in formal dress, with their beautiful canine complements, were put through their paces by this year’s trio of judges---Rufus Burleson, Cheryl Cates, and Ben de Boer. A unique and complex scorecard, filled out on each dog by each judge, was processed during the evening by the Top Twenty Committee members who tabulated the results and awarded the prize to the top scorer. This year's winner was Cheryl and Keith Robbins' Ch Storybook Rip It Up, bred by Skip and Linda Abel and handled by Michael Shepherd. Dick Baum presented Eleanor Linderholm Wood with the aptly named Richard Baum Handler of the Year Award. At this point, Dick, who was wheelchair-bound, handed out commemorative rosettes to all those dogs who competed that evening. As the first dog circled the ring, his handler, Ginny Shames, bent down and kissed Dick as she took the ribbon. In turn, all the competitors either kissed him or shook his hand, as if to say good-bye. It was a touching and bittersweet moment. And indeed, on the Thursday following ABC, Dick Baum passed from this world. There was little doubt in the minds of those who saw him during this fabled week in May that Dick was holding on to say farewell to his beloved boxer community.

Tuesday afternoon was devoted to a Judges' and Breeders' Seminar developed by Stephanie Abraham and Dr. Daniel Buchwald. Over 200 were in attendance. Following this program, the Health Committee, chaired by Dr. Wendy Wallner, sponsored informative lectures on skin neoplasms and boxer cardiomyopathy. Tuesday evening the American Boxer Club Charitable Trust held it’s annual dinner and auction. Literally thousands of dollars were raised to support health research benefiting the breed.

Alberto Berrios drew a grand entry of 229 dogs, so Willie Vicens filled in for the overload on Wednesday. As the survivors in this most elite of competition filed in for the Winners Class, one was struck by the consistency of type and style - a testament to good breeders and judges everywhere. Winners Dog from 12-18 Brindle was Betty and Bruce Mentzer’s Bee-Mike's One Night Stand, bred by owners and Roxanne Miller, and handled by MaryLou Hatfield. Pushing him for the top award was the Futurity Grand Prize Winner, the puppy Rummer Run's Major General, who took Reserve.

David Abraham, judging Bitches and Intersex this year, began to sort his lovely entry of 230 class bitches on Wednesday afternoon. By the time Thursday afternoon rolled around his Winners Class walked into the ring, again representing the beautiful breed type so sought-after by those who love the boxer. On this occasion, a perfectly "plain" fawn bitch puppy trotted off with WB honors from the 6-9 mo. puppy class, all the way from California, handled by Kimberley Steele. She was Ein-Von's Dreams Come True, owned and bred by Zwei and Vickie Pierson. Those who saw her will have little difficulty remembering her stunning red color and ring presence---"plain" indeed! Reserve to the 12-18 fawn, Chessel's Return of Haughty, bred by Ed Chessel and owned by Ed and Betty Chessel and handled by Jerry Bryant.

Best Veteran Dog was Cheryl and Keith Robbins’ animated Ch Cherkei's Ultimate High, nearly 7 and bred by Michael Kantu and B K Cosgrove. Best Veteran Bitch to the great winner Ch Keibla's Tradition of Turo, almost 11 ½, still spry and showing beautifully, owned by Bruce and Jeanne Korson and Sandy Roberts and K Barker and bred by Kitti Barker.

Junior Showmanship winners were Danielle Butler (Open Junior--2) and Kriste Kaemmlein (Open Sr.--5), with the top award going to Kriste. Well done!

Top Stud Dog (13) honors to Ch Josha's Linebacker, bred by Joe and Sharon Hayes and owned by Dr. James and Priscilla Kilman. Best Brood Bitch (10) went to Ch Tenebo's Cuchulain, bred by Kathleen Baldasaro and owned by Patricia Gelinas.

113 Specials vied for supreme honors on Friday morning. Over and over, judge David Abraham cut and sorted the many divisions, divided by color and sex, that were presented to him. Shaking his head at the quality that he had to excuse from the big ring, eventually about 12 animals still stood proudly under the chandeliers. Later, he told me "The BOB winner was a dog that my eye just kept going back to - for overall type, presence, head, substance with elegance, showing beautifully, with terrific animation." That dog was the almost 8 years old Ch Vancroft's Primetime, owned and bred by Deborah Clark and Marcia Adams, handled by Kay Palade. Not content to show in the Veteran division, he took his chances with the youngsters - and came up with a great victory. BOS to the lovely Ch Holly Lane's Crème de Menthe, bred by Eileen McClintock and owned by Deborah Clark and Marcia Adams – quite the afternoon for these two ladies from Florida! The coveted Awards of Excellence went to:

Ch Storybook Rip It Up, bred by Skip and Linda Abel and owned by Cheryl and Keith Robbins.
Ch Pinebrook's Determination, bred by Tom and Arlene Perret and owned by Carol McCormick and Arlene Perret.
Ch Rummer Run's Stardust, bred and owned by Steve and Ann Anderson.
Ch Champagne Touched by an Angel, bred by Pat Gelinas and owned by Sergio Tenenbaum and Mrs. Jack Billhardt.
Ch Huffand's Obladah of Arriba, bred by Linda Huffman and Carole Connolly and owned by Philip Koenig and Barbara Gibson.

Rip It Up, Stardust, and Obladah, as well as the BOB winner Primetime, are all former winners of the Top Twenty - a testimony to a consistency of judging over the years at the very highest level of competition.

There you have it! From the perspective of the spouse of one of the judges, life without a catalogue for a week was trying indeed - but I was still struck by the great quality of the animals parading under the lights and the sunshine on those memorable days in May. We had drama, we had tension, lots of excitement, some real surprises, and no few tears. In short - it was the American Boxer Club National Specialty.

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