AKC Announces 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award Finalists

October 10, 2016

The American Kennel Club (AKC) announced the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award finalists in the categories of Conformation, Companion Events and Performance Events.

The awards, created and first awarded in 1999, are presented in recognition of exceptional participation and achievement within the dog fancy. The finalists chosen, based on nominations from AKC member clubs, have impacted the dog sport on a national level through club involvement, judging, exhibiting, breeding and teaching.

The three finalists in each category will be voted on by member clubs, with voting ending on Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016. Winners will be announced by the end of October. Presentation of awards to the winners will be made in conjunction with the AKC National Championship presented by Royal Canin in Orlando, Florida, on Saturday, December 17, and Sunday, December 18.

This year’s nominees are:


  • Thomas H. Bradley, 3d, of Watertown, N.Y., began in dogs in 1954 with German Shorthaired pointers. He exhibited at his first point shows in 1955 at Adirondack Kennel Club in Lake Placid, N.Y. Under his Luftnase prefix, Tom bred a number of sporting breeds, including pointers, German shorthairs, English cocker spaniels, and Labrador retrievers. His last breeding produced a litter of four border terriers, all AKC champions. Career highlights as a breeder include “Finishing five champions in our second litter of Labradors in the mid 1980’s” and being co-breeder of Pointer Ch. Luftnase Albelarm Bee’s Knees, the top dog, all breeds, of 1981. Read more.
  • Patricia W. Laurens, of Newtown, Conn., has been active in dogs for over 50 years as an exhibitor, all-breed handler and breeder of Best in Show, National Specialty-winning and top-producing German wirehaired pointers. She has served as Delegate for the German Wirehaired Pointer Club of America for over 30 years. During that time, she was elected to the AKC Board of Directors, started an AKC Breeders Education program and helped establish the Junior Scholarship program. When Pat left the Board of Directors in 2000, she was elected to the Parent Club Committee and has served as its chairperson since 2000. During this tenure, she helped establish the Parent Club Conference Program and chaired three National Parent Club conferences. In 2013, she helped establish the AKC Reunite Pet Disaster Trailer Program and serves as its co-chairman. Read more.
  • Hon. David C. Merriam, of Bonsall, Calif., entered the sport at 14 with a female white bull terrier. The ensuing 64 years have been both eventful and rewarding. His first bull terrier litter was whelped in 1954 and his most recent was in July 2015. His dogs have won numerous all-breed best in shows, terrier groups and specialties, all owner-handled. David was approved to judge bull terriers in 1996 and later to judge the terrier group and best in show. Judging highlights include the groups at the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship (twice), Montgomery County Kennel Club (twice) and Westminster Kennel Club. In 2015, David was the Westminster Kennel Club’s Best in Show judge. Foreign assignments include Crufts in 2001 and 2013 and the World Show in Mexico and at least 10 other countries. Read more.

Companion Events

  • Susan (Suzi) B. Bluford, of Carmel, Calif., began in the sport of AKC dogs during the early 1970s with her first dog—a golden retriever, Wendy—who became a breed CH, UD, WC. Suzi was hooked in all areas of the sport! In 1977, her golden retriever, Streaker, was the number one obedience dog in the United States as well as a breed champion and an owner-handled group winner. She is an active participant in conformation, obedience, rally, tracking, retriever hunt tests and field trials, herding, nosework and agility and bred “Dasu Goldens” for many years. Read more.
  • Elizabeth (Tibby) Chase, of Monson, Mass., desperately wanted a Welsh pony as a child, but her sensible parents presented her with a Pembroke Welsh corgi. This little dog introduced Tibby to the challenging world of dog training and was her first high in trial dog in 1961. She has been involved with dogs, dog training and corgis ever since. While obedience is her first love, Tibby has successfully trained and shown dogs in rally, tracking, agility, herding and conformation. One special Pembroke, Tyler, Ch. Heronsway Free Style UDT ROMX, is one of a few obedience-titled dogs to win the breed at Westminster. Read more.
  • Nancy Craig, of Riverside, Calif., began her career in purebred dogs in 1966 when she and her husband, Walt, acquired Topper, a Shetland sheepdog. She took him to a local training school and found out about such things as obedience trials. Topper went on to earn his CDX. Several of Nancy’s dogs finished conformation championships, obedience and agility titles, with three of them winning the herding group. After acquiring Ace, Nancy’s first Champion and first UD, she started judging sanctioned matches for conformation and obedience and decided that being an obedience judge was what she wanted to pursue. Read more.


  • Jim Campbell, of Marrero, La., grew up in rural Mississippi in the 1950s and ’60s. Rabbit hunting with grade beagles instilled in him a love for the sport. In 1978, he got his first AKC registered beagles. After moving to New Orleans, he met Maurice Ellis, Rannie Ladner and Tommy Moffet. Jim gives credit to them for teaching him what to look for in a hound and how to condition them. His first good dog was Jazztown T-Beau, who had a great nose, outstanding line control and check work that set the standard for what he looks for in a dog to this day. Jim has bred many worthy hounds over the years, seven of which finished as AKC field champions. He finished four field champions himself, two of which went on to win the AKC SPO Nationals. FC JO’s Hustler won the Southern States Championship twice. Read more.
  • Teri Dickinson, of Lucas, Texas, began her performance career with a mixed-breed dog she trained and entered in an obedience fun match. That led to the acquisition of her first Italian greyhound in 1984, who went on to become an American Canadian Champion and Utility Dog. After putting dual titles on several more Italian greyhounds, Teri became interested in lure coursing and other lure sports. As a board member of the Italian Greyhound Club of America, she led a successful campaign to have Italian greyhounds added to eligible coursing breeds. She and her husband, Jack Downing, bred Italian greyhounds under the Whirlwind prefix and participated in conformation, coursing, agility and amateur racing. Teri bred the first AKC dual champion, DC Whirlwind Blew By You LCM OA NAJ GRC JOR MC. Read more.
  • Melody Fair, of Noti, Ore., and husband Roy, acquired their first basset hound, Misty, in late 1970. Misty was their first title holder, earning her CD. Bassets have always been Melody’s primary breed, but over the years, other breeds have graced their couch: four Newfoundlands, a Pembroke, a borzoi, a retired racing greyhound and the newest addition, a doberman. The Bassets have earned titles in the show ring, field trials (over 20 Field Championships), tracking, TD (working on number 16) and TDX (working on number 6) and are still hopeful for an elusive VST. Over 10 of her Bassets have earned dual championships. They have earned titles and/or competed in obedience, rally, agility, coursing ability, BHCA Hunting Performance Test and NACSW K9 Nosework. Read more.

For more about the nominees and the Lifetime Achievement Awards, visit the AKC website here.


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