THE OWNER HANDLER
4. Have you attended any handling seminars? Yes! I can’t get enough. I learn something new every time. I have attended Valerie Nunes-Atkinson’s twice, and can’t wait to do it again. I try to focus on learning or perfecting at least one new thing each time. I’ve enrolled my grandkids in all the Junior Handling clin- ics that I can find for them. 5. Have you found virtual learning tools to be helpful? Yes, but probably not before COVID. However, they’ve been a blessing ever since. Classes? Yes. Videos? Yes. Websites? Yes, all that I can find. AKC has some great ones available and they are free. (Though I wish that they were a little easier to locate on the website.) 6. Do you compete in the National Owner-Handled Series? Yes, we have competed for at least 10 years in the Owner-Handled Series, and have been in the Top 10 most years... and many times in the Top 5. Currently, we are sitting 6th: 10th in 2020; 2nd in 2019. We are still 2nd in lifetime points. 7. Are rankings important to you? Yes… it gives me a way to judge how I am doing. I strive to sit no lower than 10th every year. 8. In which class(es) are you most likely to enter your dog(s)? Why? We do almost everything, from Conformation, Rally, Obedience, and Agility to Scent Work, Barn Hunt, Trick Dog, Dock Diving, Lure Coursing, and CGC. I love the competition, and I think that the more you do with your dogs, the happier you and they are. (Confession: I am a new TITLE chaser... it’s like an addiction.) 9. Is it a challenge to compete with your breed(s) as an owner-handler? Dobermans were a real challenge when I had them 15 years ago, because we would have 40-50 in a ring... and many were with profes- sional handlers. Our German Pinscher numbers are currently down to the rare breed numbers, but for about 6-8 years we had quite a big group showing in Southern California. We still have a few profes- sional handlers in our breed, but for the most part, I think they are mostly owner handlers like myself. And the breed is a quick study and is very food motivated. A new breed this year for me is the English Cocker Spaniel. I adore his charm and beauty, but it puts me back into a large class again with many good professional handlers. Learning to groom the coat is a real challenge. I LOVE THE COMPETITION,
I came from a family that raised Boxers; many still do. But for 30 years, I’ve chosen Doberman Pinschers, and now German Pinschers for almost 15 years. The Dobermans were mostly rally, obedience, and agility competitors, albeit owner- handled. It has been the German Pinscher that brought me to the owner handler sport in conformation. I still participate and train in MANY Working Dog activities as well, which are all owner-handled, and I believe that is what makes my dogs still love to do conformation; variety in the ring. 1. When were you first introduced to the sport of purebred dogs? To your breed? I grew up with Boxers, and then hunting dogs like Labs, Goldens, and German Shorthairs. When I first chose my own breed, it was the Australian Shepherd, as I had horses. But I found my husband, son, and later, my grandson to be allergic to all the pollen that the Aussie’s coat picked up. So, I had to choose another breed; the Doberman Pinscher. We were searching for a new breed with a short coat when we saw an older woman walking on the beach with a Dober- man. We were star struck by the elegance and beauty. As we got older, the German Pinscher literally fell in our lap as a rescue, and we have been hooked on them ever since. Many thanks to Robin Pierce for entrusting me with her rescue and with my own first champion, “Chevelle.” 2. How many years in dogs? How many as an owner handler? I have been in dogs my entire life. My family always had dogs, and now, it’s been almost 65 years for me personally. I’ve been an owner handler for, probably, at least 12 years. 3. Do you attend show handling classes? At first, no. I just read books, watched dog shows on TV, and sat ringside and watched and asked questions. Now, I attend handling classes as much as possible, especially before a show. (So happy—my first class in almost six months!)
AND I THINK THAT THE MORE YOU DO WITH YOUR DOGS, THE HAPPIER YOU AND THEY ARE.
194 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, MAY 2021
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