Showsight - December 2021


Poodles, I would assist him ringside and in his set-up at the shows. I will always remember the parallel he drew between dance and showing dogs, whereupon the exhibitor is meant to fade into the back- ground in order to fully showcase the dog. As I was a ballet dancer, this philosophy resonated with me because you and your dog are meant to work as a unit, much like you and your partner act in concert during a performance. Working with Ric Chashoudian brought increased struc- ture to the routine and a more geometric view of dogs; specifically, viewing them as angles, wherein their points meet in spe- cific areas in order to create balance and fluid movement. At the time when the Shih Tzu breed first began to receive rec- ognition, Janet Long had some of the most beautiful blacks. She taught me many fac- ets and techniques of coat care as well as ways to understand how Shih Tzu think in order to encourage them to become show dogs. I feel fortunate to have been mentored by some of the most influential icons and pillars of the dog show world. I met my husband of 34 years, Richard Law- rence, at a dog show. Given that he bred and showed notably outstanding Yorkshire

life. I could no longer pursue a career in dance; so, I turned to showing dogs as my future profession. The first dog I ever fin- ished was a Japanese Chin for Kate Cross. When Jane Fitz returned with a dog from Europe, I began showing Shih Tzu as a professional handler in the Miscellaneous Class in 1968, one year prior to their AKC breed recognition. Over the years, I have finished more than 200 Maltese champi- ons and, as a professional handler, condi- tioned and showed a wide variety of other coated breeds, including Lhasa Apsos, Bearded Collies, Tibetan Terriers, and Yorkshire Terriers. Who were your mentors in the sport? Please elaborate on their influence. From a young age, I wanted to know everything I possibly could about breed- ing, conditioning, and showing dogs. As a curious, self-motivated, active listener and observer, I would consider myself primar- ily self-taught. While my grandmother provided me with some access, I fervently sought out experiential learning opportu- nities and individuals with a willingness to share their skills, knowledge, and expertise to support my development. When Frank Sabella was showing my grandmother’s

At that time, Miriam was renowned for her winning Poodles under her ken- nel name, “Sun Canyon.” One day, after watching Maltese in the show ring, she commented that hers at home was better than the winner, and was thereby encour- aged to prove it. For the first time, Miriam bred her Maltese bitch to a dog in the Midwest, producing two females, one of which became a Best in Show winner at nine months old. Subsequently, she phased out the Poodles to pursue Maltese exclu- sively. Growing up, I was always present at the dog shows and, at age seven, was thrust by my grandmother into showing her Mal- tese in the ring. From an early age, I was drawn to the unconditional love of dogs, and formed a deep, everlasting emotional connection to them. Although I con- fronted resistance and skepticism from my grandmother, I trusted my instincts, and ultimately produced a Best in Show dog from my first litter of Maltese. As an adolescent, I loved to dance and surf. I earned a dance scholarship to a boarding school in Austria. Upon return- ing to California, at age 16, I suffered an accidental injury involving a skeg while surfing. It was a pivotal moment in my


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