LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS
The American Kennel Club announced today the winners of the 2005 AKC Lifetime Achievement Awards. The awards, engraved Tiffany and Co. sterling silver bowls, will be presented to the winners by AKC President and Chief Executive Officer, Dennis B. Sprung, in Tampa, Florida, in conjunction with the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship on January 15 and 16, 2005. A larger Tiffany and Co. bowl, engraved with the names of all recipients past and present, is on permanent display at the AKC Headquarters in New York City.
The American Kennel Club Lifetime Achievement Awards were created to honor those individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the sport of purebred dogs on a national level. The recipients were selected by votes cast by AKC member clubs for nominees in each of the following categories: Conformation, Companion Events and Performance.
* The Lifetime Achievement Award recipient in Conformation, Michele L. Billings, of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida, among a family of dog and horse fanciers. In 1952 she moved to Stone Mountain, Georgia, and established Kings Creek Kennels, known for show-quality Beagles and German Shepherd Dogs. She trained, conditioned and handled all breeds professionally until retiring in 1970. Ms. Billings founded the German Shepherd Dog Club of Atlanta and served as its first president, 1955 - 1959. She began judging in 1972 and is now one of eleven women all-breed judges in the country. She has judged at major shows all over the world, including Best in Show at Westminster in 1988, the Sporting Group at the 2001 AKC/Eukanuba American Dog Classic, and in 2005, she will judge Best in Show at the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship. She judges approximately ten national specialties each year. Ms. Billings was the recipient of the Gaines Fido award for Woman of the Year in 1983 and won the Kennel Review award for Judge of the Year in 1986. She was inducted into the New York Sports Museum Hall of Fame in 1993 and the Nature's Recipe (formerly Quaker Oats) Hall of Fame in 1998. Ms. Billings possesses a deep and abiding love for dogs and the sport.
* The Lifetime Achievement Award recipient in Companion Events, David Maurer, of Urbana, Ohio, became involved in obedience in 1975 when a dislocated shoulder derailed his baseball career. Over the past 28 years he has earned over seven Utility degrees and four OTCHs. Winning the German Shepherd Dog Club of America National and Obedience Victrix award in 1979 were important career highlights. His highly successful breeding program is devoted to obedience German Shepherd Dogs, several of which have gone on to earn obedience titles and tracking degrees. In all, his dogs have earned more than 50 obedience degrees and four OTCHs. Mr. Maurer began judging obedience in 1980, crediting George and Louis Pugh with his start. He has since judged the first AKC National Obedience Invitational in St. Louis, the 2003 AKC/Eukanuba National Championship, as well as several other obedience championship events and national specialty shows. A well-known obedience expert, he is a fixture on the seminar circuit. Mr. Maurer has been a member of the Dayton Dog Training Club for 25 years. In all his years of showing and judging, he feels that the real highlight of his career are the many friends he has met through the sport.
* The Lifetime Achievement Award recipient in Performance, John Rabidou, of Hondo, Texas, has been involved in the sport for more than 40 years, primarily distinguishing himself with German Shorthaired Pointers. His field successes have yielded five National All-Age Champions, six National Shooting Dog Championships, five German Shorthaired Pointer Club of America (GSPCA) Gun Dog Championships, one AKC All Breed Gun Dog Championship, more than 80 AKC Field Champions, and five National Futurity Champions. His Uodibar kennel has produced two GSPCA Hall of Fame dogs. Endeavoring to share his knowledge, Mr. Rabidou conducts seminars throughout the United States and Canada and is the author of numerous articles. He served as president of both the GSPCA and the National German Shorthaired Pointer Association (NGSPA). He is currently a NGSPA board member, and has served on the boards of the Pointing Breeds Advisory Committee, and National Bird Dog Hall of Fame. Also in demand as an AKC judge, he has judged national specialties for the Irish Setter Club of America, GSPCA, German Wirehaired Pointer Club of America, and the American Brittany Club. For his service to the sport, Mr. Rabidou received the prestigious McGinnis Award from the National NGSPA and the Honorary Life Member Award from the GSPCA.