Space Coast Residents Participate In AKC National Championship In Orlando

By  //  January 22, 2017

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Largest Dog Show In North America

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Amy “Bunny” Ryba was in full Celtic regalia, as was her husband, Bruce, during the recent American Kennel Club National Championship in Orlando.

The Rockledge couple was manning the Irish Wolfhound booth to explain to passing dog lovers the many charms of their favorite – and incredibly tall – breed of dog.

For a meet-and-greet opportunity, hounds Ember and Neela were there in all their furry, regal splendor, patiently enduring the adoration of passersby. Neela, just a baby in the show circuit, was as cool as Ember, a grand champion.

Amy and Bruce were some of the Space Coast residents participating in the giant dog show that took up most of the west wing at the Orange County Convention Center.

With more than 7,000 entries, the AKC National Championship presented by Royal Canin is currently the largest dog show in North America.

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Although Best in Show, with its accompanying $50,000 prize, went to GCHB CH Cordmaker Mister Blue Sky, a Puli from Raleigh, North Carolina, Brevard County had a sizable representation.

Among the list of local canines competing were Chrome, a Standard Poodle from Melbourne, Tali, a Keeshonden from Cocoa, Suri, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Hannah, a black and tan coonhound and Rhodesin Ridgeback Marlin, all from Merritt Island.

Many Dog-Related Activities

Only 15 years old, the National Championship has gained a sizable reputation for excellence and some dog people believe that in the not-too-distant future it should overtake the legendary Westminster, held since 1877.

For dog lovers, the National Championship is a grand day out, with so many-dog related activities that it takes a full two days to completely do the show. Agility, obedience, conformation and even dock-diving are part of the program.

Eight-year-old Beau, a Labrador shown by Susan Rodriguez and her mom, Mickey Fambri, did very well during the dock diving competition. Beau, from Palm Bay, lived up to his retriever name, taking second in the Veterans’ Junior Division, where he was beaten by only an inch.

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His six-month-old baby brother, Duck, had a great time, too, earning his Dock Novice Title.

Like all the events at the show, the dock diving competition drew the crème de la crème of canines to the National Championship. Part of the Convention Center was turned into two pools to accommodate the nation’s top high-flying – and waterlogged – canines.

Event Raises Awareness of Different Breeds

The Meet the Breeds pavilion invited visitors to chat with the owners of more than 100 different breeds to learn the pluses and minuses of the individual types of dogs.

Like Amy Ryba, many of the dog owners participating in Meet the Breeds proudly played the part and dressed in costume befitting their favorite breed’s history.

The pavilion also offered the opportunity to interact with unique breeds, from Portuguese Podengo Pequenos to Black Russian Terriers. Luke – as in Skywalker – was there with owner Laura Ricci of Rockledge to let folks know about the wonders of plucky Cardigan Welsh Corgis, while Walker, owned by Valerie Harville of West Melbourne, served to represent his unique breed, the handsome and cool-as-a-cucumber Belgian Tervuren.

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Harville wouldn’t miss the AKC National Championship, because it allows her to sing the praises of the Belgian Tervuren.

“I love the fact that people are able to come up and touch the dogs and talk to their owners,” said Harville. “It really helps to raise awareness of all the different breeds.”