Showsight Spring Edition, February/March 2021


Breed j. Katie Gammel, Gini Shaw, Julie, Sweeps j. Anita Paull, “Annie” and “Noire

Julie and Aiko Wakasugi

Japan, had a handsome champion blue merle male. It was her fer- vent desire to have “Sam” become an American champion and have Julie show him. Mrs. Hiyama contacted Julie, and it was “a go.” Sam achieved his championship rather quickly and became Julie’s special. He was Am. Jap. Ch. Kencherry Keep Top. The following year, in 2003, the Sheltie National was held here in Michigan. It was to be Sam’s last show. Mrs. Hiyama was flying in to take him back to Japan after the National. He had a glorious ending to his show career in the States by going Best of Breed with Meredith (Julie’s daughter) showing him for his “grand finale!” When Mrs. Hiyama decided that it was time to retire Sam from his show career, she invited Julie to fly to Japan and show him for his last go around the ring. She could also bring one companion. Meredith was her first choice, but luckily for me, she could not go. So, I became the companion! Sam retired from the ring by going BOB, which delighted Mrs. Hiyama and his cheering fans no end! A cute story about Sam’s last trip around the ring… The Jap- anese, unlike us, run their dogs around the ring. Julie was run- ning and keeping up with the rest of the specials. Mrs. Hiyama motioned for her to go faster, faster, faster! Julie told me to tell her that if she goes any faster, she will fall on her face! Mrs. Hiyama said, “It’s OK. Someone will pick up!” We had a fantastic time visiting the sights and learning about the culture. Julie even mastered the art of eating with chopsticks! I never could. We were treated like royalty and, to them, Julie was. While at the show in Japan, we met a young woman who had been to our National for the previous three years. Each year she would watch Julie groom and handle her charges, but she was too shy to introduce herself. She owned, bred, and handled Shelties in Japan for many years. Her big dream was to come to the States and have Julie be her “teacher.” After much translation and discussion, it was decided that she would come to the National the following year, stay about three months, and begin to fulfill her dream. She would live with Gini and study under Julie. This was our dear friend, Aiko Wakasugi. I became her American “mom” and Julie was her “teacher.” She adored Julie and continued to come every year for the next nine years. She perfected many of her skills under the tutelage of Julie. Aiko was a “natural” and became an awesome handler and groomer. Aiko’s favorite story about us was the time we’d left her at a gas station. We were coming from a show, and it was late at night. Julie was driving, I was co-pilot, and Aiko was asleep in the back of

the van. We stopped at a gas station and called to Aiko. No answer, so we let her sleep. We filled the tank, used the restroom, got snacks, and were on our way. About five minutes down the road, Julie’s phone rings. “Hello.” A small voice asks, “Julie?” “Who is this”? “It’s Aiko. You left me at gas station!” Poor Aiko! We had no idea she had gotten out of the car and was still in the station when we’d left. I dread thinking about what would have happened if we did not have cell phones. From that time on, our constant question was, “Aiko, are you in here?” In 2010, the SSC of Hawaii invited Julie to present a grooming seminar and judge a fun match. Again, I was the fortunate one who accompanied her. They were so impressed with all the knowledge Julie shared that they did not want her to stop talking. She had the same effect on others when presenting her seminars. They just did not want them to end. Most of my Shelties were either bred by or co-owed with Julie. A little bi-black bitch that we co-owned was a definite favorite. At our club’s (SSCGD) Specialty, we entered “Annie,” MBISS Ch. Kell Lil’ Sure Shot, 2 AOM, in Specials and her daughter, “Noire” (Ch.) Kell’s Little Black Dress, in Sweeps. Since Julie had client dogs to handle, I showed our girls. To my delight, I won both Sweeps and Breed! Julie was there to cheer me on, which was a complete role reversal. With Julie, it was not all about winning—though she could and did compete with the best. She was joyous and considered it a win when the dog that she was showing had learned to walk in a straight line or would stand back and bait for her. She always tried to teach the dogs to do (and be) the best they could. I was blessed having Julie as my mentor, my friend, my sis- ter. Through the years, we shared the joys and sorrows of life and aging together. I will miss her voice of reason, driving to shows and singing to tunes on the radio, getting lost and turning it into an adventure, discussing everything from all about Shelties to solving world problems. I will just miss all of her! I hope Julie is basking in the glory of all she has accomplished for the Sheltie community. Her journey has ended. She will live on as an icon and a legend. To many, she was a Champion. To me, she was Best in Show!

Gini Shaw Shallimar Shelties


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