The author baits a bronze called “A Good Life” by artist Joy Kroeger Beckner at the AKC Museum of the Dog in New York City.
Fri, 03/31/2023 - 3:45am

Happy Trails

Johnny Shoemaker reports on the AKC board election, committee news, and his Roy Rogers/Dale Evans obsession

I have been going to the AKC delegate meetings in Newark, New Jersey, for years, but I think that this March was the coldest yet. It was raining and snowing, plus the wind blew and blew. I also had problems with my airline going to the meeting, but I got there! It was so great getting to see all my good friends there, so it was all worth the freezing and airlines.

We had the committee meetings on Monday, March 13. Due to a visit to the AKC Museum of the Dog on Park Avenue in Manhattan, the meeting times for the committees were reduced to allow the delegates time to take the buses to the Museum to see all the wonderful artwork. If you are ever in New York, please visit the museum.

I would like to thank AKC Board of Directors member Steven Hamblin for sharing some of his notes on committees I could not attend. 

The Dog Show Rules Committee discussed the following, some of which were items that were to be voted on at the delegate meeting on Tuesday, March 14: 

Chapter 2, Section 14:  All clubs holding shows under American Kennel Club rules must “at each event have available or access to” the current applicable breed standards, the Rules Applying to Dog Shows, the Rules Applying to Registration and Discipline, Dealing with Misconduct at AKC Events, the Show Manual, “and any other applicable rules/regulations for the competitions being held.”

Items to be voted on (all the following were approved by the delegate body at the following day’s meeting):

Chapter 8 –Word change: Add “publication of a premium list for an”

Chapter 10, Section 2 – Word change: Add “during show hours.”

Chapter 6, 2, 2A – Inserts notification must be included in the premium list if neutered or spayed entrants are permitted to compete in non-regular classes at an independent specialty or all-breed show that does not offer groups or Best in Show. Updates the way premium lists are distributed and adds show secretary as required contact where applicable.

Chapter 7, Sections 6, 7, 9, 13, 17 – Word Change: Need to update Chapter 7, Section 7, and Chapter 7, Section 13, with “his” to “his/her” and “him” to “him/her” and “he” to “he/she.” Word Change: Chapter 7, Section 17, add “No other person.”

Chapter 9, Section 10: Add “show secretary” to “superintendent and event committees.”

Chapter 11, Section 6:  Add “show secretary” to “superintendent” and bullet-point the listing of what they can do

Chapter 11, Section 8: To allow neutered or spayed dogs to compete in non-regular classes at independent specialties or all-breed dog shows that do not offer competition beyond Best of Breed.

The board had received a request from an independent specialty club to grant them permission to award a three-point major to their Reserve Winners Dog/Bitch, since their class entry normally exceeds two times the number required for a five-point major in their division. While the board is still contemplating this request, the discussion has led to an alternative for consideration. The alternative to granting this to just a single specialty club is to consider changing the rule so that it would apply to all specialties where the class entry is equivalent to two times the required number for a five-point major.

Staff took a look at the events in 2022 (excluding any national specialties) to determine how many times there was an entry of two times the number needed for a five-point major. From January 1 to November 11, 2022, there were 125,796 exhibits awarded Reserve Winners at all events. Of those, 416 instances (0.3%) were in entries of two times the five-point major number. 121 different breeds made up these instances with 45 (37 percent) being low-entry breeds. The instances were distributed across 144 all-breed shows, 33 group shows, 143 parent specialties and 96 specialties. Sixty percent of the time it was an event in conjunction with a national specialty. So the net occurrences for specialties would be 239 times.

The board would like to seek the opinion and comments from the DSR committee at the March meeting, if possible. Since this potential change also affects the parent clubs, a letter will be forwarded to the parent-club liaisons so that they can seek comment from the parent-club committee as well. This report was reported by AKC board member Red Tatro, who is our DSR committee board liaison. This was discussed by the committee, and after many comments from the delegate body it seems like a majority of the delegate body attending the DSRC and the committee were in favor of this change. This will be discussed more at the June 2023 meeting to see if we would forward this change to the AKC board and then to the delegate body for a vote.

There was also a discussion regarding the proposed change to Chapter 2, Section 3 and Section 8 (“Making Application to Hold a Dog Show”), to remove the word “unreasonably” from these two sections, as there is no mechanism for determining whether the consent was unreasonably withheld before the appeal is allowed. It was also proposed to add this to the last sentence to the current Chapter 2, Section 8: “The American Kennel Club must share with each club, which shall consist of the Parent Club and the non-member club, all documentation submitted by each club during the appeal process.” This will be discussed more at the June delegate meeting.

The update on the Group Realignment report was given by Linda Flynn, DSRC recording secretary (and the best recording secretary ever), stating that there is still no recommendation so far after four meetings. I was on the last Realignment Committee, and it does take a lot of time to work out a solution to the growing number of breeds in each group.

The AKC Canine Health Foundation will have their National Parent Club Canine Health Conference on August 11-13, 2023, at the Hyatt Regency in St. Louis, Missouri, at the Arch. To register online, go to Topics will include periodontal disease, gut microbiome, tick-borne diseases, pain perception and management, cancer and more.

This is the spectacular event that AKC CHF puts on every other year under the generous sponsorship of Purina.  Each parent club can have two representatives in attendance, and early registration is open for parent-club attendees so they can secure space before the registration link is opened to the general public. We have not been in-person for this event since 2019.  We were “virtual” in 2021. This year, there will be a virtual option for those who are unable to attend in person. In addition to this exciting opportunity, there are further educational opportunities for breeders to participate in via seminars/webinars facilitated by theriogenology residents: On April 5, Dr. Gail McCrea from OSU will be talking about TCI versus surgical insemination; April 12, Dr. Anum Ahmed from U of Florida will be talking about at-home whelping; and April 19, Dr. Nicole Sugai from Virginia-Maryland will be talking about semen (including shipping frozen semen and AKC registration requirements for usage).

If you did not know, parent clubs are encouraged to apply for the Eddy Award. This award is given annually to a parent club that provides outstanding breeder-education materials to its members and to new breeders of its breed. A parent club must demonstrate a breeder-education effort (website, workshop, mentoring, etc.) that provides information beyond the expected in and interesting and unique manner. The submission form will be provided to each parent club via an announcement sent to the president, secretary and delegate, on or about June 1 annually. The deadline for submitting the completed form will be September 1, annually. There will be a maximum of three winners each year. This is based on the three tiers on the size of their membership and resources.

AKC Government Relations Department (, or 919-816-3720) is working very hard, as across the country anti-breeder and animal-rights groups push legislation at all levels of government that undermines the ownership and breeding of purebred dogs. AKC Government Relation works hard to track canine legislation and advocate on behalf of dog owners. You can receive notifications for your club at

Please make sure that you look at the latest issue of AKC Family Dog magazine. This is the Juniors’ issue. It has lots of information and stories on Juniors and the Pee Wee event.

At the Canine Health Committee meeting, there was a talk on how the Respiratory Function Grading Scheme is progressing in the U.S. The first official screening was conducted in Oregon during the Rose City Classic. There were three vets, three learning vets, one handler and one owner in one room to conduct/observe the test. Of the dogs tested, 53 percent of the Bulldogs passed, 48 percent of the French Bulldogs passed, and 59 percent of the Pugs passed. There were also two Boston Terriers and both passed. This testing system continues to be referred to as the “BOAS test,” which is a total misnomer. It is expressly a test of respiratory function, which is merely one portion of the way brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome, or BOAS, manifests. This test does NOT investigate (via any sort of scan or X-ray) the actual structure of the soft palate nor internal nasal physiology. And the official name of the test is the Respiratory Function Grading Scheme.

The Companion Events Committee had a hefty agenda because of some items that were sent to them for discussion from the AKC board meeting in January 2023. The committee discussed ¾ jump heights for Obedience classes. The BOD had received three inquiries from parent clubs asking to have their breeds’ jump height lowered to ¾. The board asked the committee if this should be automatically considered for all breeds. The committee feels that it would be best if the BOD only responded to individual parent-club inquiries, but that the BOD should require documentation from the parent club to substantiate lowering the jump height. The second request made of the Companion Events Committee was to provide feedback about tripod dogs being considered for competition in Obedience and Rally, ONLY in non-jumping classes. The committee has debated this topic since December 2021, and their response at this meeting was no different. They are not comfortable allowing tripods to compete for fear of potential injury. Those two topics were the bulk of the meeting.

At the Coordinating Committee, the committee chairs recapped their discussions. For the most part, their agendas seemed to be a continuation of previous conversations. A few things stood out: A couple of committees were quite happy about the new ring-stewarding courses being offered by Canine College (for free!). Of significant impact, the Parent Club Committee talked about superintendents not wanting to take on national specialties. The short version of this complex issue is that superintendents are feeling that national specialties require too much labor and are too complex for the business model that superintendents currently offer. It seems to be focused against multi-day specialty shows that require on-site personnel but that have lower entries. The superintendents feel that these specialty shows are requiring more labor and support than an all-breed that has entries upwards of 1,500. I think this conversation is going to continue, and I am not sure where it will finally land.

At the AKC Delegate meeting the following day, Tuesday, there was an election for the class of 2027. I was the campaign manager for two of the candidates running for the boardL Steven Hamblin (currently on the board) and Eduardo Fugiwara, who are two outstanding friends of mine and very well qualified. Since there were only three positions on the board and four delegates running for those positions, it required an election. There were 256 ballots received, with at least 129 votes to be elected. Here are the votes received by each candidate:

Eduardo Fugiwara = 114 votes

Dr. Charles Garvin = 198 votes

Steven Hamblin = 183 votes

Daniel J Smyth, Esq. = 167 votes

This means that Dr. Garvin, Steven Hamblin and Daniel Smyth were reelected to the board. I will hope that Eduardo Fugiwara will run again, as I will gladly resume the title of his campaign manager.

At the AKC board meeting held after the end of the delegate meeting, Dr. Thomas M. Davies was reelected as the chairman of the board and Dominic Palleschi Carota was reelected as vice chairman of the board.

In addition to the rules changes listed earlier in this article, proposed rule changes to Chapter 8 and Chapter 10, Section 2, were voted on as one amendment.

Chapter 8 was amended to replaces “obedience trial or tracking test” with generic “companion event.” It also addresses the event committee’s responsibility to complete arrangement with a veterinarian to service its show either in attendance or on call. It was revised to be consistent with current application procedures, which do not ask or require for the name of the show veterinarian. It also relocates into Chapter 8 verbiage related to duty of the club proposed to be deleted from Chapter 10, Section 2. It also replaces “on call” veterinarian with show veterinarian, clarifying that whether in attendance or on call, the show veterinarian must be available to examine dogs during show hours. Lastly, the work “treat” is replaced with “examine” for veterinary procedural purposes.

Also Chapter 11, Section 8, inserts “and all other single entry non-regular classes” to expand the classes in which neutered dogs or spayed bitches may be allowed to compete. It maintains the allowance to only be permissible at independent specialties or all-breed dog show where there is no competition beyond Best of Breed. It also maintains that to achieve a conformation title, a neutered or spayed entrant must have first attained its championship title by competing unaltered in the regular classes. It corresponds to the proposal to Chapter 6, Section 2, which add verbiage to clarify that information must be included in the premium list if the club elects to permit neutered dogs and spayed bitches to compete in Veterans, or any other single-entry non-regular class.   

There was also a vote on Chapter 6, Section 2, which inserts “and” to reflect the need, when applicable, to list both a superintendent and individual show secretary in the premium list. It also inserts for clarity that notification must be included in the premium list for an independent specialty or all-breed dog show that does not offer Groups or Best in Show, if the club has elected to allow neutered dogs or spayed bitches to compete in non-regular classes.  

Also there was a vote on the proposed amendment to Chapter 14, Section 11, of the field-trial rules that will not allow local retriever field trials that award championship points to do so during the two National Championship events. This provision does not prohibit clubs from holding derby stakes, qualifying stakes or owner-handler qualifying stakes.

All these proposals were passed by the delegate body.

There was a read on the proposed amendment to Article V1, Section 6, of the Charter and Bylaws that removes the reference to professional judges (those who charge a fee in excess of expenses) as it relates to delegate occupational eligibility.

I have been waiting on this for ages, since 2007, when I became a delegate. Why should a delegate not be allowed to charge a fee? We work just as hard as non-delegates when judging and have had the expenses of becoming a judge as did the non-delegates. This will be voted on at the June 2023 delegate meeting. Please ask your club delegate to vote in favor of this proposal.

Dennis Sprung, AKC president, presented his report:

Sports and Events surpassed each former record, setting new highs with events at 25,178 and entries at 3,549,472.

Litters and individual dogs have increased year over year. In addition, there was a 6 percent growth in the number of unique breeders.

Government Relations and Public Relations have achieved many steps forward in protecting our rights as breeders and exhibitors.

Education launched the first two courses on stewarding, which cover conformation. The third course will educate individuals about rally and obedience stewarding, to be rolled out within weeks. These courses are each entirely complementary in another effort to help clubs.

Brand exposure continues to grow with media sales and sponsorship. This includes ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC Networks. Also is serving our various constituencies with Dog Channel, AKC Heroes, the Most Popular Breeds series, and at live events nationwide.

The AKC National Championship presented by Royal Canin was the largest dog event in North America with unique entries totaling 9,395, which includes performance, companion and conformation.

I thank our many delegate volunteers for their knowledgeable assistance at the events.

We began 2023 with the first Meet the Breeds of the year, in New York City to an audience of 25,000 spectators and more than 100 elected officials serving as honorary chairs.

Thanks, Dennis, for this great report!

Chief Financial Officer Ted Phillips presented his year-end financial results. As I have said before, Ted is the best, and he is always very friendly and a delightful person.

This is as of December 2022 YTD compared to December 2021 YTD:

Dog registration: There were 716,519 dogs registered in 2022, compared to 801,985 in 2021.

Litter registration: There were 326,945 litters registered in 2022, compared to 325,390 in 2021.

In the Sports and Events there was an increase of 11 percent in entries. There were 3,549,472 entries in 2022, compared to 3,202,880 in 2021. Events were up 12 percent with 25,178 in 2022, compared to 22,411 in 2021.

Operating revenues: $106.7 million. Registration and event fees: $73.1 million. Advertising, sponsorship and royalties: $19.6 million. And product and service sales: $12.7 million.  

Operating expenses: $87.7 million, with staff at $40.2 million (46 percent); professional fees, $16 million (18 percent); fulfillment, $12.9 million (15 percent); insurance, rent and depreciation, $10.9 million (12 percent); donations, $4.9 million (6 percent).

Financial Position in 000s as of December 31, 2022: Total assets, $243,808; liabilities ($112,435). Net assets: $131,373.

I am getting to an age at which I appreciate everything. That goes to my many friends at dog shows and in my own personal life. I appreciate the many exhibitors and handlers and the many good executive field representatives. All these jobs are hard and tiring, with lots of driving, grooming dogs and then walking into the ring under a good judge and sometimes a bad judge or maybe just a judge that does not like your dog. Thank you all for your friendship, and I certainly appreciate it.

As some of you may know, I am a big Roy Rogers and Dale Evans fan, and created a room in my house called the Roy and Dale bedroom. I had planned on giving the contents of that room, which is filled with a huge amount of Roy and Dale items that I spent thousands and thousands of dollars to collect. I have enjoyed these things for years and years, and I had put into my will and trust that the contents of this room would be donated to the Happy Trails Foundation. This is a foundation Roy and Dale founded to help abused children.

Well, the time has come, and I have decided that I will not wait until I pass away, but do it when I am still here on Earth. Today, people from the Happy Trails Foundation arrived at my house in a truck and took all of the Roy and Dale collections. Except the ones that my dear friends gave to me, such as Dennis Sprung, who sent me a Buttermik horse (Dale’s horse) and an autographed picture of Roy years ago. I will now call the room the Happy Trails room, filled with memories and lots of joy. The Happy Trails Foundation can use it more, and the proceeds from the sales and auctions of these many items will help them so much. If you want to donate to the Happy Trails Children’s Foundation — which is an IRS, Section 501(c)3 organization, so the donations are fully tax deductible to the extent allowed by law — you can do it now, and then when I go to Heaven you can donate even more.

“Happy Trails to you and may the Good Lord take a liking to you.”        



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