Area canine wins at national dog show

Published: Saturday, January 31, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 30, 2004 at 11:45 p.m.
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Barbara and Ron Abel own Champion Bandogs Jump for Joy, a French bulldog that recently won best of breed and group at the AKC Eukanuba National Invitational Championships in Long Beach, Calif.

MICHAEL C. WEIMAR/The Gainesville Sun
A local contestant in a major sporting event will be featured on national television this weekend.
No, we're not talking about the Super Bowl, but rather the American Kennel Club's Eukanuba National Invitational Championships in Long Beach, Calif.
Champion Bandogs Jump for Joy, or just Joy to owners Ron and Barbara Abel of Gainesville, is a French bulldog who won best of breed and best of group at the show - one of the biggest in the country.
The event was taped the weekend of Dec. 3 and will be broadcast simultaneously today at 8 p.m. on both Animal Planet and The Discovery Channel. It will be rebroadcast at different times throughout February.
About 2,500 dogs competed in the AKC Invitational. Joy beat 12 French bulldogs to win best of breed and then captured the non-sporting group crown.
That made Joy one of seven group finalists in the running for best of show. Joy's streak ended there - a Norfolk terrier named Champion Cracknor Cause Celebre, or Coco, took the title.
The next stop for Joy is the big dog of dog shows - the Westminster Kennel Club show in New York City on Feb. 9 and 10.
The Abels can rattle off Joy's show ring accomplishments with the speed of a coursing greyhound. But listening to them gush about Joy, who is 2-1/2, it's obvious she is more than just a prize-winner to them.
"She is amazing. People absolutely fall in love with her. She is sweet, loving, gregarious, happy. She is just a wonderful dog," said Ron Abel, a retired periodontist.
"She was in Westminster last year and as a very young dog she won the national speciality, which is a very big win. She beat somewhere around 160 French bulldogs from around the country. She was the No. 8 non-sporting dog in the country."
The Frenchie was bred to be a companion dog, and they are noted for their friendliness. That is quite a different character than the breed the Abels showed before Joy - Chinese Shar-Peis.
They still own several Shar-Peis, and Barbara Abel runs a Shar-Pei rescue operation. But they decided to switch to another breed and got hooked up with Frenchies through dog handler Larry Cornelius, a nationally recognized handler from Ocala.
Joy is shown by Cornelius and is co-owned by Bruce and Karen Sullivan of Parkland, friends of the Abels from the show circuit.
Since Joy first hit the ring as a puppy she has racked up an impressive list of wins and has gotten better with age, said Barbara Abel. She added that Cornelius gets the best out of Joy, even when Joy is being a bit of a prima donna.
"She has powered up a little bit, bulked up, since she was a puppy," she said.
"Joy and Larry have a close relationship. Some days she doesn't want to do it and will give less than she can. They are like people. They have good days and bad days. But she is quite the performer and that's the difference between a dog that can win on this level and one that is just as nice, but that maybe doesn't have it."
The Abels said they plan to keep showing Joy through Westminster 2005. Then she will be a pet, and maybe a mom if the Abels and Sullivans decide to breed her.
Even if they do, they won't make anywhere near enough money to keep them afloat on the show circuit.
"It's definitely a money-losing proposition," Ron Abel said. "It's a hobby."
Cindy Swirko can be reached at 374-5024 or

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