What’s with the International Class?
At its November meeting, the AKC Board of Directors gave approval, effective January 2008, for a new non-regular class called the International Class. It will be in the next printing of the Obedience Regulations as Chapter 10. The exercises, in order of execution, will be Drop and Recall, Retrieve over High Jump, Heel Free (no Figure 8), Scent Discrimination, Signal Exercise, and Directed Jumping. Only those judges approved by the AKC to judge Utility may judge the class.
What is the purpose of the class? Rumors have been rampant, most of them centering on selecting a team to go to England to compete in the Kennel Club’s Obedience World Cup Competition at Crufts. Those rumors are wrong. The class is to select the US team for the AKC’s International Competition.
What AKC International Competition? This is the first you heard about it, you say. That was part two of the proposal that was to go before the board, but it got lost somewhere between Raleigh and New York. The concept is to have the event the day before the National Obedience Invitational. The sixty-seven registries from around the world recognized by the AKC will be invited to send a team of their five dogs (four for the team plus an alternate). There will be three rings. One will have a judge from the US, the second will have a judge from Europe, and the third will have a judge from Mexico, Central or South America. The exhibitors will perform two exercises from the above list in each ring. One year before the event, all the countries invited to participate will receive with the invitation written regulations and judging guidelines for the exercises. The scores from the three rings will be averaged to determine the winning team. The event will include all the pomp and ceremony an international event deserves from the opening parade through the closing banquet Friday night.
How will the AKC determine who represents the US at the event? That is the function of International Class. It is anticipated that clubs across the country will offer the class. Those interested in competing at the International Competition will enter the class. They will compete at trials across the country. The six highest scores for each exhibitor will be averaged. The five dogs and handlers with the highest average will be appointed to the team.
Clubs have to send their show plans into the AKC six months before the event. The AKC has to publish the final details in the next couple of months giving clubs an incentive to offer it and start to publicize it if they want to inaugurate it at the time of the 2008 NOI. Then it will be up to the obedience community to express its interest and support it.
Good-bye World Cup?
The AKC will not send a full team to Crufts to compete in the Kennel Club’s Obedience World Cup after this year. It has been an expensive undertaking for what most felt was not a level playing field. Even some Brits have admitted the event was not fair.
Does this mean there will not (or can not) be an American team competing on the green carpet? Not necessarily. Of the dozen teams presently competing in the World Cup, only one or two (aside from the AKC team) are sponsored by the registry of their country of origin. If a group of Americans want to enter, they would be welcome. If the fact that there is in reality more than one team from the United Kingdom (the host country) is any indication, more than one group of Americans could assemble a team and enter. These teams would have to pay their travel, lodging, and entry expenses, or find an angel or benefactor. I am not sure it is feasible, but it is possible. Over the years, many Americans have aspired to showing in obedience at Crufts. If you are one of those, here is your opportunity.