Lined up on the black carpet, riddled with dog hair and slobber with small bits of various type of bait scattered corner to corner, in front of the biggest crowd the dog and handler had been in front of. The road to get to this point in time all but forgotten by everybody but those who walked the path themselves.
If we look back past 2015 at the 2014 ABKC NATIONALS, one of the biggest events up to that point in The American Bully or ABKC history, GR CH AXEL wasn’t even a Champion yet. AXEL wasn’t even in the show ring yet, matter of fact he had never even been to an ABKC show. This young bull was living in the back yard of a litte known first time breeder, who with the help of a more experienced helping hand purchased Axels mom and had her first breeding lined up with Axels dad, while the lights and cameras and all eyes were on center ring and the first GR CH female Nationals American Bully BOB winner was being crowned. Flash forward to 2015 in San Francisco at the ABKC Nationals, Aston Martin taking the whole show after driving 40+ hours one way, and the young AXEL still sat idle in an Alabama backyard. As we take one more step forward to early 2016 a young handler, with 2 years in the ring and a few litters under his belt, stumbles upon a dog he thinks can compete with the best in the world. After talking to co producers David Hughes and Ryan Brown AND a 14 hour trip to the dirty south Tyler Wilson and Jayme Whitehall finally see AXEL in the flesh. Not knowing they were looking at the next ABKC NATIONAL WINNER, they made a deal and the car was a bit more crowded on the ride home. Special, from the first time he stepped into the show ring he was a force to be feared, this boy was showing weekend after weekend that he could indeed compete with any dog in the country and win! The build up to Nationals in New Orleans had so many predictions with favorites emerging built on reputation and hype, and AXEL showed up to every event with the intention of winning but hype was not a strategy used instead the whole team stayed quiet and kept working.
The long wait before the Grand Champion class finally over and AXEL stacked to perfection the crowds gaze fixed on him, most of whom had no idea who he was just a year prior, his head up and toes forward. Senior ABKC Judge Ron Ramos does his final inspection and Tyler takes AXEL around the ring for the whole crowd to see and to show the judge how well AXEL moves. The Grand Champion class with 23 dogs hoping to advance to compete for Best Of Breed, one of the most important and sought after wins by everybody who has stepped foot in a show ring, all stacked highlighting their best features while the judge circles and makes his final decision giving AXEL the Grand Champion class win. Going from nobody to being very much a somebody in a matter of minutes and with that decision, something that deserves to be celebrate, but no time as the Best of Breed class begins immediately after. To add yet another twist to this “Cinderella” story Tyler handed AXEL off to young handling prodigy Destiny Myers in order to fulfill his handling obligation to the CH class winner, now competing against his own dog in the Best of Breed class, a first class move many of lesser character would not have made. Once again AXEL lined up on the black carpet, this time with with Best of Winners Dog(a bitch in this case) and the winner from the Champion class, his handler presenting him to perfection giving the judge the best opportunity to evaluate AXEL front to back and then showing off his gait once again. As the three dogs circled the ring, with the judge directly in the center, closely watching each and every step and evaluating every inch of each dog. This being the final class for the breed, AXEL seemed to know the weight of the moment, where most dogs shrivel up his head was higher and chest puffed out more than ever before. This was his moment, after all that time, after all the miles, after all the training…….the 2016 ABKC Nationals American Bully BOB winner is GR CH AXEL!