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Eukanuba World Challenge

TOP DOG 2008 in Switzerland and Eukanuba Challenge Winner was the American Cocker, Very Vigie Vamos a La Playa - the same Cocker as last year! The second was the American Akita, Ch Melodor Burn The Witch, owned by Chris McLean and handled by Fabrizio Manni from Italy. In third was Gabriele Feldmann’s Papillon, Elram's Kaiser Franz Jozeph. The judges were Monique van Brempt (Belgium), Ron Menaker (USA) and Andrej Kazmierski (Poland).

The Societe Vaudoise de Cynologie in association with Eukanuba hosted the spectacular Swiss Top Dog 2008 event at the exclusive and elegant Hotel Beau-Rivage in Lausanne. The top 24 dogs who had gained the highest number of points for winning at selected shows across Switzerland were invited to compete against each other to win the title of Swiss Top Dog 2008.
The coveted prize, courtesy of Eukanuba, is the exciting opportunity to represent Switzerland on an all-expenses-paid trip to the Eukanuba World Challenge in Long Beach, California on 13th and 14th December 2008. The Eukanuba World Challenge is hosted at the AKC/Eukanuba National Championships; 52 of the world’s Top Winning dogs will represent their countries. The top dogs will meet and will compete in one of four sections, pre-designated by geographical location, for the highly prized title Eukanuba World Challenge Champion 2008 and the prestigious prize money of $10,000 (US). At the inaugural event last year this title, along with the prize money, was awarded to the Swiss representative, the American Cocker Spaniel, Multi Ch Very Vigie Vamos A La Playa. Bred by Laurent Pichard, this Swiss born four-year-old male, ‘Vamos’ is owned by Joelle Doucet and Jean-Louis Stauffer and is handled in the ring by Hughes Schuh. ‘Vamos’ was in the running for Swiss Top Dog.

The evening event commenced with a warm and welcoming cocktail reception, all the guests were then ushered into the large and beautifully presented dining room with a large podium upon which the dogs were to be presented. Before the gala dinner began, the guests and three judges were enthusiastically welcomed by Laurent Pichard. Lorna Hastings introduced the three world famous judges: Monique van Brempt from Belgium, Ron Menaker from the USA and Prof Andrej Kazmierski from Poland, all of whom had been given the honour of judging the event and selecting the Swiss Top Dog 2008.

Monique’s illustrious judging career began in 1980 and she is now one of the world’s most respected judges. Ron’s esteemed judging career started in the USA in 1985, he has since judged worldwide at FCI shows including officiating at many World Shows and in the UK. As Chairman of the American Kennel Club, he is highly experienced in all aspects of the sport of purebred dogs and also has an illustrious judging portfolio. Andrejz started judging his own breed, Airedale Terriers, in 1978 and has since become an FCI All Breed judge. His judging career has spanned Europe, Asia and The Americas and he was heavily involved in the world show in Poland in 2006.

The dogs were presented in pairs; a draw had taken place earlier in a large ring at the Lausanne Show during the pre-judging process. All 24 dogs received a large trophy and decorative rosette in recognition of qualifying for the event. The 12 pairs of dogs with the handlers wearing either a blue or a yellow armband were introduced by breed and ring number only. They initially competed and the judges made their selection by holding up either a blue or yellow baton to indicate which dog they were selecting to go through to the next part of the competition. The winner of each pair went through to the next round. In the second round, 6 pairs competed, leaving three winners to go through to the final.

Those three Top Dogs were Multi Ch Very Vigie Vamos A La Playa; two-year-old, British-bred American Akita, Multi Melodor Burn The Witch and the two-year-old, Swiss-bred Papillion, Multi Ch Elram’s Kaiser Franz Joseph.

The audience were kept on the edge of their seats with the excitement! The three finalists were then given a rest while the guests and judges enjoyed dinner and just before desert, guest of honour and President of the Swiss Kennel Club Peter Rub gave a speech to the guests and talked about the Swiss Kennel Club’s forthcoming plans to celebrate its 125th anniversary on 22nd November at Stade de Suisse, Bern.

The overall winner was the American Cocker Spaniel, Very Vigie Vamos a La Playa, seen here with handler Hughes Schuh. Vigie’s owners, Jean-Louis Stauffer and Joelle Doucet, are pictured third and fourth from the left. The dog’s breeder, Laurent Pichard, is pictured on the far left. Also present were Barbara Mueller (far right) who was representing the Kennel Club of Switzerland, and Iams representatives Ziggy Kalenik and Lorna Hastings.

Zbyszek Kalenik spoke on behalf of the Swiss Top Dog sponsor, Eukanuba, thanking everyone for their support and expressing how Eukanuba were delighted to be part of this thrilling event.
The judges were then beckoned back to the podium for the final. A draw was held to establish which of the three dogs would compete against the other. The winner of the first two would then compete against the third dog and the winner of those was the ultimate winner.The remaining two dogs competed to select the 2nd place and 3rd place. The audience watched with great suspense as ‘Vamos’ confidently and gracefully gaited across the podium defeating the other two finalists to a rapturous applause.

In 2nd place was Chris McLean’s Multi Ch Melador Burn The Witch. She is being campaigned across Europe to her impressive multi Champion and BIS titles by the Italian professional all breed handler Fabrizio Manni and will be returning to the UK very soon. In third place was Gabriele Feldman’s homebred Multi Ch Elram’s Kaiser Franz Joseph.

As the Top Swiss Dog with a Swiss Kennel club number and a Swiss Resident, ‘Vamos’ will be representing Switzerland in 2008 and will be defending his Eukanuba World Challenge Champion title won last year. ‘Vamos’ will be in the European and Africa Section 1 which will be judged by Edd Bivan, a well respected and highly experienced judge from the US. If he is selected as one of the three section winners, he will then compete in the final under FCI President and All Breed judge, Mr Hans Muller. Barbara Muller, one of the Top Swiss Dog organisers, who attended the Eukanuba World Challenge 2007 event, commented: ‘It is overwhelming that such a fantastic dog can once again represent our country. We are also happy that so many of the 24 Top Swiss Dogs are resident here with a Swiss Kennel Club number.’

Conchita Van Ingelgem, Marketing Manager – Eukanuba Distributor Switzerland, enthusiastically said: ‘We are delighted that ‘Vamos’ will be defending his title. Can you imagine how proud little Switzerland was when we won in America last time.

Switzerland is breaking new ground in having a dog win such a prestigious event as the Eukanuba World Challenge by having sent a Top Winning dog with a tail in a breed that was customarily docked. Even although docking is banned in Europe it is still carried out in America.’
Vamos’ owners Joelle and Jean-Louis who were with him last year when he took the Eukanuba World Challenge Champion title 2007, were ecstatic about the win: ‘Can you imagine that Vamos won last year and is going back again this year to represent Switzerland. It is simply incredible, though he is a very special dog, one that is a great pleasure to own and live with. He is really a wonderful character. He just gaits around the ring like a true showman. We are incredibly fortunate to be his owners.’

Hughes Schuh, the dog’s handler and groomer, when asked how he maintains the dog in such great condition and how he gets the dog to perform so fabulously, he replied: ‘It starts at the very beginning with great nutrition and proper exercise. Attitude is also very important for a good show dog and Vamos certainly has plenty of that. He is almost a real person; it is like he can communicate with me. He loves to be in the show ring and always gives his best, he is a great performer. Yes, I am looking forward to going back the Eukanuba World Challenge with a little trepidation; our win last year was fantastic.’ Breeder Laurent Pichard added: ‘How many breeders can get this wonderful opportunity once never mind twice in a lifetime; to have a dog that they bred qualify for such a great event and to have the honour of representing their country. Hey, that is just too amazing, unbelievable really.’

To qualify for Swiss Top Dog 2009, exhibitors must register in advance; they must compete and win at the following shows to gain points: Lausanne, Fribourg, St. Gallen, Luzern and the National Show, Bulle. The qualifying dates are from Oct 08 to July 09. The highest placed Swiss Kennel Club registered and Swiss Resident at the Swiss Top Dog 2009 will be the representative for Eukanuba World Challenge 2009.