The 2002 AKC/Eukanuba National Invitational Championship was held December 11, 2002, in Orlando, Florida.
In an effort to be more inclusive and to ensure that as many of the top show dogs in the country as possible had the opportunity to compete, the entry criteria for the 2002 event was expanded.
The top 25 dogs (vs. the top 20 in 2001) in every breed and variety based upon breed points earned between January 1, 2002, and October 7, 2002, were invited to enter the event. Also new for 2002, every dog awarded Best in Show at a licensed or member AKC all-breed dog show held in the same period was extended an automatic invitation to enter.
"Last year more than 3,200 dogs were invited to compete in the event, and more than 1,500 accepted that invitation," said AKC Chairman Ronald H. Menaker. "We want to invite an even broader selection of top dogs to enter, to make the event accessible to as many people who participate in the sport as possible."
The public was invited to "Meet the Breeds" in a repeat of last year's hugely successful attraction, put on with the help of volunteers and representatives from AKC's Parent Clubs.