Giant Schnauzer “Bayou” wins AKC 2021 National Championship

Everyone goes to a dog show in the hope of winning. But not everyone expects it.

That was certainly the case with Giant Schnauzer breeders Chris and Holly Reed of Port Allen, Louisiana as they headed to the 2021 AKC National Championship presented by Royal Canin.

Each December, the AKC’s flagship show draws some of the country’s best dogs to Orlando, Florida, before airing on ABC in January. Eventually, the field of over 5,000 contenders is reduced to a single lone dog.

And this year that dog was “Bayou”, a 4 year old Giant Schnauzer bred by the Reeds, with their late mentor Maryann Bisceglia and Mike Reese. (Bayou belongs to the Reeds with Laurie and Mike Mason.)

True, GChG. From The Mountains To The Bayou de Lagniappe, as Bayou is officially called, did not come out of nowhere. A multiple Best in Show winner, he was the highest ranked dog of his breed and the 10th working dog in the country before the show. But given the high power competition, the Reeds thought they would be happy to win the breed. And maybe – just maybe – make a difference in the group.

As he watched Bayou make the shortlist under task force judge Norman Kenney, Chris Reed raised his expectations with a bang.

“I thought maybe he could get fourth place,” he recalls. But that placement went to another dog, just like the third. “I was about to say, ‘OK, we’re done, what do you want to eat for dinner tonight? »» When the judge pointed to the favorite – the best dog in the country of all breeds, the Samoyed GChP Lucky Strike of Vanderbilt ‘N Printemp – for second place.

And then the big black dog from Louisiana took the first one.

“I sat from the end of the working group until the Best in Show, basically in disbelief,” recalls Chris Reed. At the end of the night, when Dana Cline continued the theme and nominated Bayou for the best of the show (with German Wirehaired Pointer, GChS Heywire N Deep Harbor Love That Dirty Water, taking Reserve), the Reeds rushed in. towards the arena, bouncing off security guard to security guard until they find one ready to believe they possessed the new AKC national champion.

From one puppy to the best of the show

Serendipity has never been lacking when it comes to Bayou. The Reeds had initially considered buying her mother when she was a puppy, but chose not to, so her breeder – Maryann Bisceglia from Ingebar – decided to keep her. When Biscelgia found out she was sick, she asked the Reeds if they still wanted Sarah, and shortly before her death, that’s where she went. When it came time to breed him, the Reeds opted for another Ingebar Giant who lived with the Masons in the Colorado Rockies – that’s the “From The Mountains” reference in Bayou’s registered name. As for the name of the Reeds breeding, Lagniappe – pronounced “lan-yap” – in Cajun country it means “a little something extra”.

But within Bayou’s reach, there were literally no extras: there was only Bayou. And the Reeds believe that being a single puppy may explain his oversized personality.

“He had a lot of toys and stuffed animals, no competition for food or attention, and he spoiled himself pretty quickly,” recalls Holly Reed. “And I think that made him a better show dog.”

A Giant Schnauzer had never won the Best in Show award at the AKC National Championship, and responsible breeders like the Reeds are still concerned about any negative effects the glare of the publicity might have. (That is, if people can even identify the breed: passersby sometimes ask if Bayou is a giant Scottish Terrier or an oversized Schnauzer-Poodle mix.)

An instinctive guardian

Hailing from Bavaria, where they helped farmers round up cattle and later served as guard dogs, Giant Schnauzers have a strong instinct for protection. As a result, they need firm boundaries and extensive socialization.

“They are very thoughtful thinkers, and if you are not the head of your household, this dog is quite willing to step in and take on that role,” says Holly Reed, adding that she will deter people from the community. race if she feels it. they don’t have the time or the ability to raise one properly. “I warn people with children all the time that this breed is very protective of its family. You don’t need to take any training to teach them to be protective. But you have to train them not to be too reactive, to be protective in the right situations. “

Chris Reed points out that if Bayou and other well-socialized giants seem unfazed, it’s because they have been conditioned to accept the whirlwind of activity that accompanies the performing arts scene – and to trust the person at it. other end of the lead.

But even in Orlando, Bayou’s instinctive vigilance was not too far below the surface.

“One of the days we were on display Alfonso asked me to move away, because Bayou kept looking in the same area,” says Holly Reed, referring to professional manager Alfonso Escobedo. While on the road, Bayou lives in Houston, TX with Escobedo, teammate Ashlie Whitmore and their young child Andres.

Escobedo was concerned that Bayou might be guarding Reed, but even after she pulled away, Bayou continued to throw her ears forward and gaze intensely in the same direction.

Soon the two humans realized what worried the giant so much: There was a crying baby in the distance, and Bayou feared that his smaller family member was in distress.

Grooming is another challenge for future Giant owners. “It’s a big commitment,” says Holly Reed. While show dogs are skinned by hand, most pets are clipped, but it can be difficult to find a groomer willing to deal with a breed as large and often stubborn as a giant schnauzer. . Getting a puppy used to standing on a grooming table, being shaved and blow-dried is absolutely essential, she adds.

What’s next for Bayou?

The Reeds had the idea of ​​pulling Bayou out after the AKC show, but maybe they’ll now extend his career a bit longer.

“There was no pressure on us,” Chris Reed said of that fateful trip to Orlando. “We said, let’s go and have a good time. “

No matter where Bayou’s career takes from here, that’s great advice.


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