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Virginia Beach 26-28th October 1997
Show Report #1 Jim and Deb Coudriet
(With Photographs by Rose Marston)

[Over 60 entrants in Best of Breed
fill the ring before Judge's inspection]

The National Specialty Show of the Afghan Hound Club of America event packed four day extravaganza, began very early Sunday morning. With The American Kennel Club Afghan Hound National Coursing Champion Trial, and the American Sighthound Field Association Lure Field Trial, held in conjunction with the AHCA National Specialty. At the lure coursing event, over 80 afghans paced the field, at the Oceania Naval Air station with intensity, and anticipation etched on their faces. [Photo (left) "Madison" (Mask of Diamonds, F. Ch) stays on the lure during Lure Coursing Field Champion Stakes]. The huge entry, combined with the twisting course, promised a good test of afghan abilities, and fierce competition. With the backdrop of a F-14 Tomcat, (placed with pride, during the week by the navy), hunt master David Frei called the first tallyho, and america's finest collection of running afghans were off.

The dogs ran all day, and even as the weather deteriorated from cool clouds to drizzle, to steady downpour, the assembled "afghaners" toughened up, dawned boots, rain gear and persevered. The Navy proved gracious hosts providing the much needed hot cider, coffee and later, a grilled lunch.

All involved were winners, especially the hounds. Best of Breed at the American Sighthound Field Association (ASFA) trial was Greg & Rita Breitach's Sterling. Best of Breed at the American Kennel Club (AKC) trial was Gypsy (same owners). And Best in Field went to Sterling. The two breed winners are repeats from last year, truly an amazing achievement.

With just enough time to return to your room, dry out and change, off to Puppy Sweepstakes. [Photo (left) A tired April (Aries Sun Shower) watches the adults compete after her showing in 6-9 month bitch puppy class]. With an entry of 140 puppies, judge Harry Bennett had his work cut out for him. The expansive ring was filled with puppies of all sizes and colors. Mr. Bennett moved swiftly and decisively, thinning the huge entry down to the final picks. Sandy Frei showed "Calais Sunrise At Stomhill" to the Best in Sweepstakes and "Abaca Sha-Cone Golden Jubilee" owed by Terry Chacon and Abbe Shaw was Best of Opposite Sex to Best in Sweepstakes. The sweepstakes winners were sired by Ch. Myriad Not a Cloud in the Sky.

There was only enough time for forty winks, and Monday began. The Club had its membership meeting early and I must confess the need for some time to groom and relax, so we missed the obedience competition. But by all accounts, the competition was tremendous. The High in Trial performance turned in by Twyla Twist, SC, MX and Diane Bauman, was said to be breathtaking.

Later that afternoon, the dog judging took place, 132 entries, with June Boone presiding. Without an entry in this competition, it gave sometime to view the facility. Conveniently located to both the host hotel and the beach side hotel, the Pavilion Convention Center was well suited to the task. There was ample room for grooming ringside, the seating was plentiful and located on three sides of the ring. Shopping was easy with the vendors located just beyond the seating. [Photo (right) Seemingly unfazed by his winning Best of Breed, Gabe (Ch Mithra Gabriel of Etrigan) takes a post victory rest upon his crate]

The trophy and rescue table, just off the ring, were of course, well visited. It would be next to impossible to have done a better job, and all those connected to the business of the show are to be commended for such an excellent job.

Ms. Boone, selected and reviewed her classes for a good while, leaving no sign to the spectator as to her choice. And on the final go around, she gave the nod to the sweepstakes winner "Calais Sunrise At Stormhill" in double confirmation of this beautiful boy. Obviously, this made for quite a national specialty for the owners.

Though a bit into the evening, a group of the internet, "chatters" got together for the delayed beer tasting competition. It had been scheduled for the evening after coursing. All were to bring beers from their own areas around the country, to be "judged" by the many experts at hand. Some fine beers were raised in toasts, and a good, albeit chilly, time was had by all. Plans are already in the works for "Beerfest II" at Tucson, AZ.

So, it was somewhat groggily we arose for Tuesday's Bitch competition. Carol Reisman was the judge today, and seasoned exhibitors appeared in tune with the judges preferences. [Photo (left) The audience really had something to shout about considering the tremendous variety and quality of entrants]. The total class bitch entry was 134. The demanding Ms. Reisman put the bitches through their paces. All were asked to free-stack in the final lineups, while the judged looked for her show girl of the 1997 national. True to the Heart of Grandeur was selected, handled by Michael Canalizo.

The Bitch judging was over early enough to enjoy a bit of the local dining and nightlife. But Best of Breed judging would start early on Wednesday.

Included on the day, was the Parade of Veterans, always a tear jerker. It's always a pleasure to see the past greats, and their proud owners. More than a few looked fit enough to compete in the competition slated later that day. Also, the Rescue Parade was held prior to Best of Breed judging. This began with a heartfelt tribute to Judy Fellton. Photo (right) Rescue Parade (l-r) AHCA President Connie Butherus, former National Rescue Director, Judy Felton with participants Alexandra O'Connel with Leo, Chrystal Presley with Cruiser, Pam Wall with Sampson, Tina Smith with Sampson, Sue Larimer with Luna and Kathy Pugh with Oliver. The audience was on its feet twice to express its admiration of the club's long-time rescue chairman. The rescues (my favorite at any show) were presented by the breed's best ambassadors, their owners. All were beautiful, happy, and the love between the team's was more than evident.

So with the emotions running, the climactic conclusion of the '97' National began. Each of the 70 Intersex Competition entries was introduced and paraded around the ring in a solitary moment of triumph. Each looking majestic, ruling the ground they covered. The class was then broken down by sex, and these groups were made into smaller groupings for comparison. Ms. Boone then began her daunting task. Going over each individually, gaiting them separately, then together in pairs. Each of the groupings was winnowed down, from each sex, until she could form a unit to work with for the ultimate prize. Although many great dogs had been eliminated in the earlier selections, it was indeed an illustrious group of hounds left standing in the final line-up. The tension mounted , as this last group was examined more closely. Jan Reital's Ch. Tifarah's Hi-Flying Victory (Flyer) was regal as he gained acknowledgment from the crowd. Brigitte Crowe's Ch. Cobra Copy Cat (Bird), was also cheered on and appeared to fair well for the ribbon, as she has all this year in the ring. But Ch. Mithra Gabriel of Etrigan ( Gabe) owned by Phyllis Roe, Bobbi Kinley and Kathleen Williams, who has been tallying up his own ribbons on the circuit this year, handled expertly by Bobbi Kinley, seemed to have caught Ms. Boone's eye. She may have even smiled , as he strode each time, without ever faltering. The crowd grew even louder as Gabe was moved to the head of the line, and with much exuberance, accepted the award.[Bobbi Kinley, co-owner/handler gets a well deserved hug from Best Of Breed Winner, Gabe (Ch Mithra Gabriel of Etrigan)]. Brigette Crowe's Cobra Copy Cat was Best of Opposite, Calais Sunrise At Stormhill was best of winner's.

It was the long, boring, ride home for us after that. But the club did hold a dinner after the Best of Breed competition, that was well attended , and appreciated. Everyone could finally relax, socialize a bit, and re-live the experience. A rousing success certainly, and those capable people in charge of next years show in Tucson, have a tough act to follow.

Editor Note- The words contained within [caption] are those of the photographer, Rose Marston. Photo's and captions were added by the Editor after this report was written.

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