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Shih Tzu Dog ‘Comet’ Wins Best in Show at AKC National Championship Presented by Royal Canin

By Pet Age Staff//January 2, 2024//

Shih Tzu Dog ‘Comet’ Wins Best in Show at AKC National Championship Presented by Royal Canin

By: Pet Age Staff//January 2, 2024//

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Press release: AKC

GCHP CH Hallmark Jolei Out Of This World, a Shih Tzu known as “Comet” triumphed over more than 5,700 competitors to earn a $50,000 cash prize and the title of Best in Show at the AKC National Championship Presented by Royal Canin, held December 16-17, 2023 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. “Comet,” owned by Bonnie J Miller, Susan Carter, Luke and Diane Ehricht of Monclova, Ohio and bred by Luke and Diane Ehricht, was crowned “America’s National Champion” by Best in Show judge Clay Coady after a weekend of intense canine competition. The winner is America’s only National Champion.

The overall show totals, which include the AKC® Agility Invitational presented by YuMOVE, the AKC® Obedience Classic, the AKC® Royal Canin National All-Breed Puppy and Junior Stakes, AKC® National Owner-Handled Series Finals, the AKC® Fast CAT® Invitational, the Junior-handler events, and special attraction North America Diving Dogs (NADD) Santa Splash, topped 9,801 entries.

 

The show aired on the ABC television network on December 31st, and the live stream of all the weekend events is available for replay at AKC.tv®.

Reserve Best in Show and Group Winners

Reserve Best in Show: GCHG CH Kaleef’s Mercedes, a German Shepherd Dog known as “Mercedes,” owned by Cynthian Wilhelmy & Sheree Moses of Bethesda, MD and bred by Sheree Moses CombsLauren ArbaughMadeline LlewellynJeanne Hamilton.

After winning Best of Breed competitions the following top dogs went on to win in their respective groups and compete for Best in Show:

Sporting: GCHG CH Vjk-Myst Heir To The Throne JH FDC CGCA CGCU TKN BN-V, a German Shorthaired Pointer known as “Phoenix,” owned by Robert Grant & V Atkinson & S Stutz & Y Deterding of Temecula, CA and bred by Susan StutzYvonne Hassler-Deterding, Mrs. Valerie Nunes-Atkinson.

Hound: GCHG CH Zaida Bint Muti Von Haussman, an Afghan Hound known as “Zaida,” owned by Ramon PodestaScott Pfeil, J. Donahue, A. Sobrado of Ingleside, IL and bred by Ramon Podesta Valenzuela.

Working: GCHP CH Alcher Tmac Witchcraft V Gentry, a Doberman Pinscher known as “Wicked,” owned by Cheryl Green & Tony Mackenzie of Brentwood, TN and bred by Deborah RomansCheryl GreenTony Mackenzie.

Terrier: GCHG CH First Class Victoria Berland Empress Of Magic, a Bedlington Terrier known as “Tori,” owned and bred by Jacquelyn Fogel of Gardnerville, NV.

Toy: GCHP CH Hallmark Jolei Out Of This World, a Shih Tzu known as “Comet,” owned by Bonnie J Miller, Susan Carter, Luke & Diane Ehricht of Monclova, OH and bred by Luke & Diane Ehricht.

Non-Sporting: GCHG CH Surrey Sage, a Miniature Poodle known as “Sage,” owned by Cathy Gauche of Houston, TX and bred by Kathleen Wallen and Kaz Hosaka.

Herding: GCHG CH Kaleef’s Mercedes, a German Shepherd Dog known as “Mercedes,” owned by Cynthian Wilhelmy & Sheree Moses of Bethesda, MD and bred by Sheree Moses CombsLauren ArbaughMadeline LlewellynJeanne Hamilton.

Other top dogs awarded during the two-day event included the following:

Best Bred-By-Exhibitor in Show
GCHG CH Telltale Bohemian Rhapsody, an English Springer Spaniel known as “Freddie,” owned by Beth Fink & L Pike & J Vanderlip & T Lowe & S Hatch of Milan, IL was awarded Best Bred-By-Exhibitor in Show out of 1,272 dogs.

AKC Royal Canin National All-Breed Junior of the Year
CH Von Hawes Forever Forward, a Rottweiler known as “Granger,” owned and bred by Peter Hawes & Kathleen Hawes & Erin Maureen Foreman of New Castle, CA. won Junior of the Year out of 1,717 dogs.

AKC National Owner-Handled Series Finals Best in Show
GCHB CH Kinloch So There!, an Irish Setter known as “Stryker” owned by Linda Layfield & Adam Kucera and bred by Patty Fanelli and Mike Fanelli won the AKC National Owner-Handled Series (NOHS) Finals Best in Show, prevailing over an invitation-only entry of 875 dogs.

Best in Miscellaneous Group
Seiunme Go Tamashi Kensha, a Japanese Akitainu known as “Sei,” owned by Dawne Deeley of Surrey BC Canada and bred by Francesco Pallarino won the Miscellaneous Breeds competition.

Junior Showmanship
In the Junior Showmanship competition, for handlers between 9 to 18 years of age, Octavia Stensen with her Norwegian Buhund GCHB CH Cultiva Cruisin For A Bruisin was awarded the coveted title of Best Junior Handler, along with a $5,000 scholarship.

Agility and Obedience Competitions
The 2023 AKC® Obedience Classic and the AKC® Agility Invitational presented by YuMOVE were held in conjunction with the AKC® National Championship. The two events demonstrate the highest level of training and teamwork between dog and handler. The AKC® Obedience and Rally Junior Showcase was held for the 12th year, and the Junior Agility competition for the 13th year.

AKC Obedience Classic

Four obedience dogs and their owners – one dog/handler team in each of the four classes – were crowned at the AKC Obedience Classic, which brought together 217 dogs from across the country.

Placing first in their class (Novice/Preferred Novice, Open/Preferred Open, Utility/Preferred Utility and Masters/Preferred Masters respectively) were:

  • Novice: Topbrass The Show Must Go On CD RN, a Golden Retriever known as “Encore,” owned by Annette Sizemore of Greer, South Carolina.
  • Open: Norwood’s Can Ewe Keep Up CDX RM RAE HSAd HSBd AX OAJ XF TKN, a Border Collie known as “Hype,” owned by Emily Scott of St. Louis, Missouri.
  • Utility: High Times Stir’N The Pot UD SH, a Golden Retriever known as “Simmer,” owned by Robin Fargus of Brecksville, Ohio.
  • Masters: RNC TC OTCH12 AGCH MACH5 PACH RACH Norwood Color Me Zayne UDX13 OGM RM4 RAE3 HSAd HSBd HXAd HXBd MXC PDS MJC PJS MJPB PAX MFG TZX T2B5, a Border Collie known as “Zayne,” owned by Kim Berkley of Caseyville, Illinois.

AKC Obedience & Rally Junior Showcase

The AKC Obedience & Rally Junior Showcase had junior handlers competing in Obedience and/or AKC Rally®. In Obedience, Junior handlers competed in classes based on their dog’s AKC Obedience accomplishments. Placing first in their class were:

Junior Obedience Showcase – Saturday

  • Beginner Novice B: Calista Sophia McKee, and Carbon Chrome’s Black Dawn BN RI FDC DCATE ACT2J CGC TKN FITB (Maya), an All American Dog of Florida.
  • Beginner Novice A: Gemma Eldridge, and Flawlessly Rising From The Ashes CGC TKN (Phoenix), a Miniature American Shepherd of Florida.
  • Preferred Novice: Mia Federico, and Just A Sweet Talker CD RA AX AXJ XF CA DCAT CGC (Mochi), an All American Dog of Florida.
  • Novice A: GraceLynne Destree, and Victor Roo Bear BN CGC (Victor), a Chihuahua of Wisconsin.
  • Novice B: Hayden Brown, and Okie’s Onyx And Diamonds MX MXJ XF (Onyx), a Shetland Sheepdog of Kansas.
  • Open B: Calista Sophia McKee, and Southpaw’s Ottercreek Fiedling Fab UD (Vogie), a Weimaraner of Virginia.

  • Highest Scoring Dog in the Regular Classes: Hayden Brown, and Okie’s Onyx And Diamonds MX MXJ XF (Onyx), a Shetland Sheepdog of Kansas.
  • Highest Combined Score in the Open B and Utility, Regular Classes: Calista Sophia McKee, and Southpaw’s Ottercreek Fiedling Fab UD (Vogie), a Weimaraner of Florida.
  • Highest Scoring Dog in the Preferred Classes: Mia Federico, and Just A Sweet Talker CD RA AX AXJ XF CA DCAT CGC (Mochi), an All American Dog.

Junior Obedience Showcase – Sunday

  • Beginner Novice A: Gemma Eldridge, and Flawlessly Rising From The Ashes CGC TKN (Phoenix), a Miniature American Shepherd of Florida.
  • Beginner Novice B: Calista Sophia McKee, and Jbk Fearless Frankie FDC FCAT FITB (Frankie), a Border Collie of Florida.
  • Novice A: Kenzy Buls, and Lexi II CD RI FDC CGC TKI ATT (Lexi), a Miniature American Shepherd of Washington.
  • Novice B: Calista Sophia McKee, and Skye Skye CD BN RA FDC BCAT ACT2J CGCA CGCU TKI ATT FITB (Skye), an American Dog of Florida.

  • Highest Scoring Dog in the Regular Classes: Calista Sophia McKee, and Skye Skye CD BN RA FDC BCAT ACT2J CGCA CGCU TKI ATT FITB (Skye), a All American Dog of Florida.

In AKC Rally®, junior handlers competed in Rally Novice, Rally Intermediate, Rally Advanced, Rally Excellent, and/or Rally Master based on the dog’s AKC Rally® accomplishments.

Placing first in their class were:


Junior Rally Showcase – Saturday

  • Rally Novice A: Katryna Smith, and Crusader’s Frozen Attraction CGC TKN (Barbie), a Rhodesian Ridgeback of Michigan.
  • Rally Novice B: Mia Federico, and Tbc Dera DCAT (Dera), a Border Collie of Virginia.
  • Rally Intermediate: Kenzy Buls, and Lexi II CD RI FDC CGC TKI ATT (Lexi), a Miniature American Shepherd of Washington.
  • Rally Advanced A: Cristiana Crespo, and Butterfield’s The Legend of Zelda RN NA NAJ NF CGC TKA (Zelda), a Border Collie of Florida.
  • Rally Advanced B: Calista Sophia McKee, and Desert Mountain’s Beautiful Bo BN RI FDC BCAT ACT1J CGCA TKN ATT FITB (Bo), a Papillon of Florida.
  • Rally Excellent A: Grace Brown, and Scarlet Fly With The Wind Learn To Swim Later RA BCAT CGCA CGCU TKI (Scarlet), a Golden Retriever of Maryland.
  • Rally Excellent B: Mia Federico, and Just A Sweet Talker CD RA AX AXJ XF CA DCAT CGC (Mochi), an All American Dog of Virginia.
  • Rally Master: Calista Sophia McKee, and Desert Mountain’s Beautiful Bo BN RI FDC BCAT ACT1J CGCA TKN ATT FITB (Bo), a Papillon of Florida.

  • Highest Combined score in Advanced B and Excellent B: Calista Sophia McKee, and CH Desert Mountain’s Beautiful Bo BN RI FDC BCAT ACT1J CGCA TKN ATT FITB (Bo), a Papillon of Florida.
  • Highest Combined Triple Qualifying Score in Advanced B, Excellent B and Master: Calista Sophia McKee, and CH Desert Mountain’s Beautiful Bo BN RI FDC BCAT ACT1J CGCA TKN ATT FITB (Bo), a Papillon of Florida.

Junior Rally Showcase – Sunday 

  • Rally Novice A: Gemma Eldridge, and Flawlessly Rising From The Ashes CGC TKN (Phoenix), a Miniature American Shepherd of Florida.
  • Rally Novice B: Calista Sophia McKee, and Southpaw’s Ottercreek Fiedling Fab UD (Vogie), a Weimaraner of Florida.
  • Rally Intermediate: Calista Sophia McKee, and Desert Mountain’s Super Nova BN RI FDC DCAT ACT2J TKN FITB (Nova), a Papillon of Florida.
  • Rally Advanced A: Cristiana Crespo, and Butterfield’s The Legend of Zelda RN NA NAJ NF CGC TKA (Zelda), a Border Collie of Florida.
  • Rally Advanced B: Mia Federico, and Just A Sweet Talker CD RA AX AXJ XF CA DCAT CGC (Mochi), an American Dog of Virginia.
  • Rally Excellent B: Mia Federico, and Just A Sweet Talker CD RA AX AXJ XF CA DCAT CGC (Mochi), an American Dog of Virginia.
  • Rally Master: Calista Sophia McKee, and Desert Mountain’s Beautiful Bo BN RI FDC BCAT ACT1J CGCA TKN ATT FITB (Bo), a Papillon of Florida.

  • Highest Combined score in Advanced B and Excellent B: Mia Federico, and Just A Sweet Talker CD RA AX AXJ XF CA DCAT CGC (Mochi), an All American Dog of Virgnia.
  • Highest Combined Triple Qualifying Score in Advanced B, Excellent B and Master: Calista Sophia McKee, and CH Desert Mountain’s Beautiful Bo BN RI FDC BCAT ACT1J CGCA TKN ATT FITB (Bo), a Papillon of Florida.

AKC Agility Invitational
Five agility dogs and their owners – one dog/handler team in each of the five height categories – were crowned as the 2023 winners of the AKC Agility Invitational, which brought together 701 dogs from across the country.

Placing first in their height division (8″, 12″, 16″, 20″ and 24″ respectively) were:

  • 8″ – AGCH MACH29 Kayangee Dorothy Parker MXS8 PDS MJC9 PJS MFG TQX T2B5 CGC, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel known as Dot, handled by Antonia Rotelle of Dover, PA
  • 12″ – AGCH MACH6 Taylormade Inspired Adventure MXG2 PDS MJG2 PJS MFG TQX T2B5, a Shetland Sheepdog known as Venture, handled by Jean Lavalley of Murfreesboro, TN
  • 16″ – CH MACH11 Tenja’s First Atomic Dog MXC3 PAD MJC3 PJD OF, a Border Collie known as Trinity, handled by Roger O’Sullivan of Gahanna, OH
  • 20″ – MACH3 Ehrenvogel Wings Of Hope’s Wanderin’ Free CD RN JH MXC MJB2 MXF T2B BCAT DM DS, a German Shorthaired Pointer known as Mia, handled by Beth Janos of Mason, OH
  • 24″ – MACH3 Cogshalls Wylie Rake Of Lanruvi MXC MJS2, a Whippet known as Rake, handled by Jennifer Smith of Milwaukee, WI

AKC Juniors Agility Competition
Juniors who participated in the AKC Juniors Agility Competition competed in either the Junior Excellent or Superior Classes, depending on their age. Handlers who were under the age of 14 on the day of the show competed in the Junior Superior class division, and handlers who were at least 14 years old on the day of the show competed in the Junior Excellent class division.

The overall winners of the Junior Agility Competition were:

  • 8″- PNAC GCH CH MACH3 PACH4 Starstruck Predict My Future MXG MJG PJD MXP13 MXPB2 MJP14 MJPB2 PAX4 BCAT (Fortune), a Papillon handled by Jada Sawhney
  • 12″- AKSELA AX AXJ CGC TKN (Aksel), a Miniature Schnauzer handled by Ava Rawlings
  • 16″- Tbc Dera CA DCAT CGC (Dera), a Border Collie handled by Mia Feferico
  • 20″- MACH2 Yaya’s Voulez Vues Q Cher? (Voulez), a Golden Retriever handled by Katie WIliamson
  • 24″- PACH2 Monark Run for the Roses Tallee CD BN RA MXP5 MXPS MJP6 MJPS PAX2 XFP CGC TKA (Tallee), a Golden Retriever handled by Jada Sawhney

AKC Fast CAT Invitational
The fastest dogs in the country were named Pure Speed and Speed of the Breeds Champion, which brought together 429 dogs from across the country.

Pure Speed Division
HC 1: Wildtucks Momentary Lapse of Reason FCAT DE AM TKN, a Whippet known as “Reas,” owned by Lindsay & Matthew Manetti.

HC 1.5: Black Ink FCAT5, an All-American Dog known as “Inky,” owned by Jennifer Smith.

HC 2: Winston Bolt BCAT, a French Bulldog known as “Winston Bolt,” owned by Braden Frederick.

Speed of the Breeds Division: Max English RA FDC DCAT SWA THD CGCA CGCU TKE ATT BN-V FITB, a Lhasa Apso known as “Max,” owned by Debbie English.

AKC Breeder of the Year 
Luke and Diane Ehricht were presented with the 2023 AKC Breeder of the Year Award for Hallmark Jolei Shih Tzu at the AKC National Championship on Saturday, December 16, 2023. The annual award honors breeders who have made an impact on their breed and dedicated their lives to improving the health, temperament and quality of purebred dogs.

The fifth annual posthumous Breeder of the Year was awarded to Phyllis and Daniel Hamilburg of Salgray Boxers for their devotion to the breed. The Hamilburgs bred countless Champions and their Boxers were known for their outstanding temperament. Salgray Boxers took the country by storm, and their legacy continues today.

Founded in 1884, the American Kennel Club is a not-for-profit organization which maintains the largest registry of purebred dogs in the world and oversees the sport of purebred dogs in the United States. The AKC is dedicated to upholding the integrity of its registry, promoting the sport of purebred dogs and breeding for type and function. Along with its more than 5,000 licensed and member clubs and its affiliated organizations, the AKC advocates for the purebred dog as a family companion, advances canine health and well-being, works to protect the rights of all dog owners and promotes responsible dog ownership. More than 26,000 competitions for AKC-registered purebred and mixed breed dogs are held under AKC rules and regulations each year including conformation, agility, obedience, rally, tracking, herding, lure coursing, coonhound events, hunt tests, field and earthdog tests.

Affiliate AKC organizations include the AKC Humane Fund, AKC Canine Health Foundation, AKC Reunite, the AKC Museum of the Dog, and the AKC Purebred Preservation Bank.

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