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Interview with Owner Handler Anita Kay Simpson

Owner Handler Anita Kay Simpson with her Dandie Dinmont Terrier dog


Interview with Owner Handler, Anita Kay Simpson


Where do I live? How many years have I been an Owner Handler?

Anita Kay Simpson: I live in Orlando, Florida. I have owned and shown my Dandie Dinmont Terriers as an Owner Handler since 1975.


How did I get my start in my breed? In the sport?

Anita Kay Simpson: I bought my first Dandie in 1975, sight unseen, and she became a Best in Show winner, and in 1978, was No. 3 Terrier Bitch in the country. I chose her based on the quality of her breeder and the lines from which she came. Needless to say, I became hooked on showing and on the Dandie breed. So, I’ve been in the sport from that first Dandie puppy!


Have I always loved to show dogs? Have I always been a dog person?

Anita Kay Simpson: Yes, I have always been a competitor, through showing horses and showing dogs. I’ve been a dog person and horse person since I was a child.


Is there a story behind my decision to show my own dog?

Anita Kay Simpson: I sold my horse trailer to buy that first Dandie, and so the plan was always to show dogs and horses!


What makes showing my own dog so special to me?

Anita Kay Simpson: My dogs have been my soulmates. They want to please. I am so proud of them, and have been over the years. Every time we go in the ring, it is special. I have been honored with having five Best in Show winners over the years, from what is a very small number of litters. Choosing the sire and dam is critical to keep the quality of this breed that has such a small gene pool.


In my opinion, is there a secret to having a great dog/handler partnership?

Anita Kay Simpson: The key is to know your dog; what turns them on, and what they need from you, making sure that their needs are met so that when they are in the ring they are happy and trust you. And also that you know you have groomed them to their best advantage and have never taken anything for granted. Nothing else matters.


Do I compete in the National Owner-Handled Series? If so, for how many years?

Anita Kay Simpson: I have been competing in NOHS for the past six years. The only times that I have not shown my own dog was when I had shoulder surgery and was unable, or when I could not get off work to compete in a show that I wanted my dog to participate in. Too many shows now are in 4-to-5-day clusters. This makes it very difficult for those of us who work to afford showing dogs. At one time, the OH days were only on Saturday and Sunday. Now they are on all the days of the show cluster, which means people like me are handicapped when it comes to competing with OHs who are retired or independently wealthy.


What goals did I set for myself and for my dog in 2022? What about 2023?

Anita Kay Simpson: My goal for 2022 was to have my dog, “Gabe,” be No. 1 Owner-Handled Dandie again this year—in spite of only being able to show him for half the year—and we achieved that goal the month after he turned seven years old.

In 2023, the goal will be to finish a granddaughter of Gabe with her championship and an OH ranking.


Am I going to Orlando? If so, what’s it like to have a top NOHS dog this year?

Anita Kay Simpson: Yes, I’m going to Orlando. It is incredible to have a top NOHS dog! Gabe has been No. 1 OH in 2022 and 2021, with limited showing both years. He is the example of the Breed Standard and judges recognize him for that. He is an ambassador for the breed everywhere he goes.


Just for laughs, do I have a funny story that I can share about my experiences as an Owner Handler?

Anita Kay Simpson: Well, I am not sure how funny this story is, but I slipped and fell in the ring once and somehow didn’t lose the lead or fall on my dog. I got back up and back in stride, all without being in the eyesight of the judge. We did place that day!