Hamel residents get AKC Breeder of Year Award

In an ongoing campaign to recognize the hard work and commitment of breeders dedicated to improving the health, temperament and quality of purebred dogs, the American Kennel Club has named seven group recipients of the 2013 AKC Breeder of the Year Award.

Two Hamel residents, Leslie and Don Jeszewski have won a Breeder of the Year Award in the herding category for their work with Highcroft collies. The Jeszewskis established Highcroft collies in 1981. The AKC-registered Highcroft kennel prefix is recognized both nationally and by serious collie breeders and fanciers around the world, with Highcroft collies residing in various countries in North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. Through their combined efforts, the couple has either bred or finished over 300 AKC champion collies. They also received the Collie Club of America Presidential Award for Breeder of the Year four times.

The pair owned the No. 1 top-winning rough collie in the United States in 2004, who, owner-handled, went Best of Breed at Westminster that year (over 13 rough specials) and also won the Collie Club of America National Specialty Show. That dog’s name was Champion Highcroft Lode-Ark’s Legend ROM, four-time CCA Award of Merit winner. His photo was chosen by the parent club to be the visual representation of the Collie standard in the newly revised AKC Complete Dog Book. The Jeszewskis also have received the Collie Club of America Presidential Award for Breeder of the Year four times.

“The AKC Breeder of the Year Award celebrates several of AKC’s most distinguished breeders, and we’re proud to recognize seven outstanding breeding programs as the 2013 Group finalists,” said Michael Canalizo, AKC/Eukanuba National Championship event manager. “These breeders all strive to produce dogs useful in both form and function, with impeccable health and temperament. We’re delighted to spotlight them as the ‘best of the best’ of purebred dog breeders.”

A breeder is chosen from each of the seven groups: Sporting, Hound, Working, Terrier, Toy, Non-Sporting and Herding. The individual group recipients will receive a medallion in recognition of their achievements on Sunday, Dec. 15, at the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship in Orlando, Fla. At the end of the presentation, the 2013 AKC Breeder of the Year will be announced. Additionally, a canine portraitist will be commissioned to commemorate a prominent dog from the Breeder of the Year’s kennel, and their name will be added to the perpetual trophy and plaque on permanent display at the AKC headquarters in New York City.