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 2013 National Eukanuba Championship Conformation By Darius Holloway and Robert Young Zak’s Orlando 2013 Experience The 13th Annual AKC Eukanuba National Championship weekend was filled with much excitement both in the rings and around the beautiful Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.  The thrill of visiting with “doggie” friends from across the country and meeting new canine enthusiasts in various arenas proved to be quite entertaining and educational.  It was such fun sharing quality time with old Pon friends as well as new Pon friends.  Bob, Zak and I were excited to share this magical weekend with Kristine Kim (Zak’s Breeder).  Kristine’s support and friendship is very special to us.  We are extremely grateful that our good friend Donna Gray introduced us to Kristine or our paths possibly would have never crossed. Friday morning Zak competed in the Sunshine State Herding Group competition that was in conjunction with the other specialties that were being held that day.  Zak was selected Grand Champion Select Dog, with GCH CH Swancrest The Power of Eternal Love (Baxter) winning Best of Breed.   Our sincere congratulations to Ryan and Magda!   Friday afternoon Zak represented our breed in the Inaugural AKC Owner/Handled National Championship Series Finals and took a Herding Group 4!   To say the least we were overwhelmed with pride and excitement.  Our sincerest gratitude to Judge Mrs. Leah R. James for acknowledging Zak with this honor! This accomplishment truly deserved a special celebration, so our personal “Chef Bob” prepared a lovely and delicious dinner for our Pon friends and other friends who were also at the Finals.  It was so good to spend quality time with friends who enjoy their four legged companions as much as we do. To say that the evening was filled with much laughter, reminiscing and harassment would be an understatement!   I know that our local friends from Charlotte thoroughly enjoyed meeting and spending time with our Pon friends.  I also know that Mr. Zak was delightfully enthralled with Merrilee and Jeff Cirtwell’s adorable new puppy Brenna Rose…… (who happens to be our late Kaz’ Great-Great granddaughter).  Saturday was our day off, which allowed us the opportunity to cheer on our friends in various rings.  Kristine was fortunate enough to watch one of our new Pon friends Mimi McGowan with her beautiful and fast White Star Pon Birdi in a very clean and impressive agility run.  Bob, Zak and I certainly enjoy the agility ring but we are realistic enough to know that due to my clumsiness that the prestigious “MACH” title will not be in Zak’s future.   We will be content to finish his Novice titles!!!   It is much easier to prance around the breed ring and simply smile!!!   Mimi should be quiet proud of their accomplishments for the weekend!! Bob, Kristine and I were able to watch and cheer on our friend Debbie Snyir and her precious and obviously smart White Star Pon Stella in an amazing and what we considered a “flawless” Obedience trial.  It was quite obvious that Debbie and Stella leave no stone unturned when it comes to preparation!   Debbie is a phenomenal trainer with much love for her Stella and the “oneness” is quite obvious in the ring!  Once again Zak and I compete in Novice Obedience and the dedication that it takes to reach the UDX level of competition is simply mind boggling.   Way to go Debbie and Stella for such awesome scores at the AKC Eukanuba National Finals!    Merrilee and Jeff should be extremely proud of how both of their WhiteStar “stars” performed in both the Obedience and Agility competitions!   Our hats are off to them for breeding such special puppies and sharing them with such wonderful individuals as Mimi and Debbie.  Also on Saturday we were fortunate enough to watch our good friends’ German Shorthaired Pointer,   “Bess” win Best of Breed.  She is owned by Shannon and Jim Sprinkle and is one of Zak’s girlfriends! On Sunday Morning Bob, Zak and I felt quite blessed and lucky to have had such a wonderful support group of friends cheering us on in the breed ring.  To be part of such a special weekend surrounded by dear friends was very touching.  That feeling of wanting to please your friends certainly gives you that extra edge of competiveness.   We sincerely appreciate Judge Mr. Steve Hall for awarding Zak Best of Breed and the opportunity to represent our breed at the finals on Sunday night on that beautiful blue carpet!   Mere words cannot express the sheer pride that we experienced that weekend. Bob and I would like to thank our Pon friends for all the calls, texts, and cards.    It is encouragement like this that makes our journey so special and we feel quite honored to be a part of the wonderful Pon family!   Once again we must thank Kristine for not only allowing us to give our hearts to one of her pups and allowing us to be part of her family, but also for believing in us!   (Bob, Darius and Zak)