I got my first AKC Ibizan Hound 19 years ago as a pet, but decided to try showing him a few times. A few years later, I was invited by my breed mentor to co-breed an Ibizan litter with her and was offered pick bitch. “Enya” would go on to be my first show dog and future foundation bitch.
Over the years, I have produced Best in Specialty-winning, and multiple Group-winning and Group-placing, Ibizan Hounds. I’ve bred Multiple Dual Champions with Multi Best in Field wins under their belt. I’ve shown, won, and have had multiple placements at the National Specialty, Regional Specialty, and at Westminster (Breed) level. I co-bred one of the top-winning OFC Ibizans (#1 four years in a row). But what I’m also proud of is being able to produce well-bred companions for families that have dreamed of owning an Ibizan Hound one day.
- When were you first introduced to the sport of purebred dogs? To your breed?Alexandria Mitchell-Lynch: Twenty years ago, I was looking through the AKC website and saw a picture of an Ibizan Hound. At that point, I needed to learn more. I saw my first Ibizan in-person a year later at a dog show.
- How many years in dogs? How many as an owner handler? As a breeder?Alexandria Mitchell-Lynch: I’ve had 25 years in purebred dogs, and I got my first show-bred dog (Ibizan Hound) 19 years ago. I co-bred by first litter with my mentor 17 years ago, and have been showing (owner handler) ever since.
- Do you attend show handling classes? Have you attended any handling seminars?Alexandria Mitchell-Lynch: I have been to a few handling classes. But most of my training has been at home in my backyard. I have never been to a seminar, but would love to in the future.
- Have you found virtual learning tools to be helpful? Classes? Videos? Websites? Social Media?Alexandria Mitchell-Lynch: In the beginning, I used videos of professionals showing dogs (off YouTube) to help me learn to show my own dogs.
- Do you compete in the National Owner-Handled Series? Are rankings important to you?Alexandria Mitchell-Lynch: I do complete and have done well in NOHS. Rankings are fun, but they’re not my motivation at all. I like showing people that Owner-Handled Teams can be rewarding to both the person and the dog.
- How important is the Bred-By Class to you? How important are specialties?Alexandria Mitchell-Lynch: Bred-By is VERY important to me. I always finish what I keep from a breeding in this class. I’m showing judges and other exhibitors what my breeding program looks like. I’m always proud to finish a dog/bitch from this class.Specialties, to me, are much more important than normal all-breed shows. At a specialty, a lot of times you’re up against some of the best in the country, and there’s a mix of different lines you may not get to see together. If you pull a good judge, and/or breeder judge, that makes it even more worthwhile.
- Is it a challenge to compete with your breed(s) as a breeder/owner handler?Alexandria Mitchell-Lynch: In my breed, Ibizan Hound, I don’t think so. As a breed, we seem to still be very breeder/owner handler friendly, which I hope we always stay. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to show your dog as professionally as you can when you learn the skills to do so.
- Are you intimidated by the professional handlers? By the judges?Alexandria Mitchell-Lynch: I used to be. But I’ve learned that if I look the part and put in the time, I can do (and have done) well among the pros. Honestly, I show my dogs because I enjoy the time we spend together. And at the end of the day, I always leave with the best… win or lose.
- Who have been your mentor(s) as an owner handler? As a breeder?Alexandria Mitchell-Lynch: My original breed mentor has played a great role in helping to make sure I had a solid foundation in my breed and the confidence to be able to go out and show my dogs among the best. I’ll forever be grateful to her. And also, through the years, just the show community as a whole; having strangers come up to you when you leave the ring to tell you what a joy it was to watch you show your dog and [to acknowledge] the teamwork between the two of you.
- How important is the breeder/owner handler to the future of the dog sport?Alexandria Mitchell-Lynch: We are the backbone of this sport. If you eliminate us, your sport will soon die. The shows that I go to are made up of about 70 percent or more owner handlers or breeder/owner handlers.
- What are your goals as an owner handler? As a breeder? Is there a milestone that has eluded you?Alexandria Mitchell-Lynch: I want to continue to do justice to my breed. I want to continue to preserve my beloved breed and inspire more owner handlers to get out and show their own dogs if they can. I wasn’t born into dogs. I decided that I wanted to get a show dog one day and compete with all the other folks who were doing it. My family thought it was a silly school girl dream, but I never gave up on it. It wasn’t always easy, but was it worth it? Absolutely!!My milestones change every year, or as I reach my goals of the past. Having goals helps to keep pushing yourself and your breeding program. When you reach one, you create a new one.
- Is there a funny story that you can share about your experiences as a breeder/owner handler?
Alexandria Mitchell-Lynch: When I won the National Specialty years ago with my Bred-By Champion, I think everyone realized I had won before I did. I was placed at the beginning of the line in front of the soon-to-be Best of Winners bitch and the placements in order behind, and the judge sent us all around one last time. My friends in the crowd where yelling and screaming because they knew what just happened. I was so concentrated on my dog that I didn’t realize it until the judge started down the line, pointing. That was a day I’ll never forget.