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St Louis AHC Specialty and AHCA National Specialty 4-9 October, 1999
Report By Steve Tillotson

(Report originally published in the November 99 issue of "Our Afghans"

Steve Tillotson (St Louis AHC Sweepstakes)
Mesvr Rita Van Mechelen (St Louis AHC Regular Classes)
Julie Roche (AHCA Sweepstakes)
Jay Hafford (AHCA Regular Dog Classes)
Chris Kaiser (AHCA Regular Bitch Classes & BOB)

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Arrived on Sunday afternoon and was met at the airport by the St Louis Club Secretary Marysue Altman, her friend Pat and my co-judge Rita Van Mechelen. We were whisked off to a local restaurant for a meal and then on to the host hotel the Ramada.

The host hotel is very "dog friendly" with a special building for bathing and grooming, poop-a-scoops and buckets dotted all around the hotel grounds. Cute little cards to hang on your door - "Dog In Crate/Maid Service", or "Dog In Room/No Maid Service. The hotel provided a two page note of Dog Show Guidelines for doggy visitors, so all exhibitors were aware of their hotel rules. The Ramada was a short ten minute drive from the Purina showgrounds. The second hotel, the Best Western was even closer, and exhibitors staying there were equally positive.


The short drive to the showground took us through the rolling Missouri hills, beautiful this time of year as the first frost had triggered the colourful change as we enter the Autumn fall.

The Purina showgrounds are an impressive facility with acres of land secured by fencing. The actual show setup comprised of a very large ring with tented areas at each end, one for grooming, the other for club stand and also served as a collecting ring. On the other sides of the ring, bleachers (I think that is what the raised metal seating is called) for spectators.

Adjacent to the ring is another set aside area for trade stands, and below this yet another set aside area which was used for agility. All in all a very well thought out arrangement. Had it rained a lot there might have been difficulties, but in the event, the weather was good.


Day one, Monday, big scary day for me - my first USA judging appointment. The weather conspired to make me feel at home, freezing cold and overcast! Soon warmed up once in the ring though. I was absolutely thrilled with my entry and also the quality, some decisions were very close. I was pleased with my final line up for best in sweeps which was won by an extrovert showman, at 15 months of age - Kabik's Heir To The Fortunes, owned by Linda and David Renkes. I gave BOS to a beautiful showgirl, 11 months of age - Violin in Concert, owned by Glenda Wild and Holly Jorgenson.

Veteran was a joy, it is always such a treat to see the oldies, and I am always impressed by their youthful performance. A tough challenge for best veteran, finally awarding it to the 10 year old dog Aljazhir Red Storm Rising, owned by Neva and Jay Johnson with BOS going to Cindy Chandlers super 8 year old bitch "Cowgirl" - Ch Applause Majic Show JC.


Having enjoyed my judging enormously, I then sat back to watch my co-judge Rita Van Mechelen judge the regular classes which she did with great charm and style.

For BOB Rita chose the exciting dog Ch Arcana Jump'n Jack Flash, owned by Mary Henricks, C Milne and S Donarico. Rita's BOS was Ch Zions Lady Of The Night, owned by Lynn Mercer and Linda & Ed Johnson.


Back to the Ramada for a freshen up and then a chance to meet people in the relaxed atmosphere of the pre AHCA show hospitality .

Visitors continued to arrive during the evening, including my upside down friend Jim Hickie of Gengla (Australia) fame. A good time to mention... the bar There was a "fundome" at the Ramada, sauna, pool etc, and a ringside pool, which (shock horror) closes at 1030 pm, the other bar was only open Fri-Sun, Aussie's and Brits's would suffer grave depravation at this, however, to the rescue came Jim and Sharon Roseland who arranged for the hotel to open the second bar from 1030 till 1pm, phew!.


Day two, a first for me - Lure Coursing. I had never been before, and it was a thrill. I recall a blue dog (called "blue"...) completing the morning course in great style, so thrilling to see our hounds demonstrating their native skills and instincts. The course was altered in the afternoon with two very tricky right hand bends which challenged the dogs a fair bit.

The Judge Ed Granger took time out to give me a basic education on coursing and I sat on top of the hill watching the days coursing. For me the best part of the day was the last hour watching the first timers who are not yet street-wise and follow the lure like a magnet. The older dogs can guess where the lure is going and head it off... and who says Afghans are daft... not this lot, they are sharp.

A particular thrill for me was seeing my best in Sweeps from yesterday coursing! He swept round the course with great power and style... and then decided to play "catch me". After about five minutes of teasing his owner, he bounded up and allowed himself to be caught.

I watched an afghan of Wally Evans (Cevan) complete one of the best runs of the day, gave it all in the chase for the lure, great run.

We had made friends with Kim Von Mitch and her friend Bev from Tennessee the previous evening. We arrived early and waited all day to see her youngsters go - and by jove they went well, both obtaining ribbons on the day.

One of Kim's coursers is a 10 year old black bitch "Elektra". The lure operator didn't start the lure at full speed in consideration of Elektra's age, big mistake! Electra flew from the start and almost caught the lure immediately, the operator having to quickly speed it up. Electra completed this course, fantastic run.

Thanks to Ed Granger, not only for the lesson in lure coursing, but the home made beer, and the life-saving iced soda's late in the day. A great day which vividly reminded me that our afghans are functional as well as beautiful.


On to the evening and the "Sock Hop". Being totally un-biased as a (dancing) judge, Eadie Glazer gets my vote as a top sock hopper on the night (despite a sprained ankle a few days earlier). The other hopper of note was "legs" Le Hedstrom who dances in the ring, and now on the dance floor. As well as these great dancers we also had a fashion show. I understand that ladies dresses of the sock hopping era were made of felt - and several ladies had entered the spirit and made up dresses specially for the evening, including Eadie Glazer, Kim Von Mitch, her friend Bev , Debi and Darcy Golden.


Wednesday started with obedience and triathlon conformation followed by AHCA Sweepstakes. Julie Roche chose Cobra Carpe Diem, owned by B and J H Crowe and L Stoffels as best in sweeps, Polo's In The Air Tonight, owned by Lorianne Amadeo as BOS.

The evening was taken up with a cocktail party and visit to the AKC Dog Museum. Reports are that this was very well attended and interesting event.


Thursday included agility trial, excellent entry and great fun to watch. Then on to dog judging under Jay Hafford who chose as his WD a 9 month young dog Tantra's Some Like It Hot, owned by Jeff Bracken. For his RWD Jay chose Boannes Dragonheart, owned by Anne and Goerge Evans.

The main event of the evening was the very well attended AHCA Breeder Symposium which included presentations from Wally Pede and Betty Stites.


On to Friday, Junior Showmanship followed by bitch judging with Chris Kaiser. For WB Chris chose Moving Think Twice owned by Donna Broucek and Monica Jacobsen and his RWB was Alazhir Candida X Rated owned by Suzanne Culbertson and Roger Brown.


In the evening I attended the Judges Study Group with about 25 other students. An excellent program of topics, thoughtfully presented by Sandy Frei, Janis Reital, Harry Bennet and Betty Stites which provided a solid introduction to understanding and judging our breed. The package of literature that is given to students is excellent and included extensive narrative and pictorial information. Having undertaken a similar study scheme in the UK I was very impressed with the AHCA session.


On to Saturday, parade of Veterans and Rescue. There was a 15 year old veteran who's legs crumpled under it in the ring giving us all a scare, but the afghan got up again and continued in the parade. This serves to remind us that our affies do not live for ever, and every day we have them is precious. I watched this oldie leave the ring, clearly happy to be there and that put a smile back on our faces. Rescue was very moving, especially looking at these loved dogs and hearing the horror stories behind their rescue. We owe a lot to those who give so much of their time to rescue.

And so on to Interesex, judged by Chris Kaiser. Outside, spacious ring, sunny day, around 60 exhibits in the ring, spectators all around - thrilling, breathtaking, a wonderful sight It is no easy task to pick a few winners from such a fantastic collection of our best Afghans. The usual routine of splitting into groups, 3 dog groups, one bitch group, the run each group around and eventually cutting to the selection.

After the cuts we were left with about 30 Afghans, somehow it seemed even more difficult to choose the winner. Just before Chris made his pick he commented to exhibitors and spectators that this was truly a magnificant class and a day he would never forget. With the exhibits in motion, Chris called out his BOB - Ch Calais Sunrise at Stormhill (owner R & M Schwebke and Stormhill Kennels) to rapturous applause from ringside, followed by his BOS Ch Cobra Copy Cat (owner B and H Crowe).


So on to the final evening and the Awards Dinner. Excellent buffet with a wide choice of main meal and sweets, and a bar to quench the thirst. David Frei acted as our master of ceremonies.

The usual fun-quiz with the poser - "reasons to own an afghan" - some imaginative answers.. the winner being "the bed was too big anyway".

Rescue, an emotional David Frei bought us to tears in reciting some stories from "The Road I Took To You" (AHCA Rescue book, a must buy!). Happy stories like the afghan who was "Hotel Guest Of The Year", desperate stories like the one of dismantling a crate around an afghan because it was too scared to come out. David acting as auctioneer got a bid for $750 for a jumper to be made out of afghan yarn, and then persuaded the two competing bidders to each pay $700 for a jumper, thus doubling the income for rescue from this yarn project.

Lots of happy news, awards of course. Julie Roche had "a tear in her eye" with her final line up. Jay Hafford said "the 6-9 month puppy stole my heart", Chris Kaiser said "a moment I shall treasure for the rest of my life" and gave a big thank you to his wife for all her support

97 entries in lure coursing (record is 100, so this was a good year). Elektra the 10 year old was mentioned in despatches.

I was very impressed with the overall quality of Afghans at St Louis. And so it ends, great dogs, great people, a great National. See you at the National in 2000.

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