Interview with Annaliese North – 2023 MCKC Best Junior Handler
Congratulations, Annaliese, on your Best Junior Handler win at the 2023 Montgomery County Kennel Club All-Terrier Show! Is it a dream come true?
Annaliese North: Yes, ever since having my Smooth Fox, Harry Potter, and being involved in this amazing breed, my two goals this year were making it to the Finals at Westminster and Best Junior at Montgomery!! “Harry” led me to both of these goals and I couldn’t be more grateful!
I felt very accomplished because, as all Terrier Juniors know, it’s not easy to show a Terrier in Juniors—as much as it may look like they’re just all showy. Many of them take a lot of training and no dog is perfect; they all have their quirks. Harry and I worked all year to be able to try and stick out in the line-up, and it was a lot of trial an error. But in the end, our goal was accomplished!
How was the overall experience of being in Pennsylvania for you? Were you busy all weekend?
Annaliese North: This year was a little different for me. I usually go with my dog’s breeder, Lindsay Stiflinger, and good friend Taylor Schwultz, but sadly, this year, they couldn’t make it, and because of that I didn’t think I could either. But it all worked out for me that I got to fly out to Kellie Williams for the week and spend the best “terrier week” with her! I learned so much with it also being not super-busy too!
Who was the first person you called or texted after you’d won?
Annaliese North: I texted and called Lindsay and Taylor because they were the people who gave me the opportunity to first have my dog Harry, and they introduced me to the breed and have taught me so much. I wouldn’t be here without them! Then, of course, I called my parents since they were bummed they couldn’t make it this year to watch. I wouldn’t have been able to do any of it without them.
How did you celebrate your victory? Did you and your dog enjoy a special meal that night?
Annaliese North: We celebrated with lots of treats and toys when we got home. He got a pup cup from Starbucks, of course!
You’ve shown several different dogs in Juniors. How did you choose which dog to show this year?
Annaliese North: I’ve shown “HP” the last two years. He was the first Terrier I was able to show in Juniors. He has allowed me to accomplish so many goals I would have never dreamed of accomplishing. This past year, he showed his heart out and we made it to Westminster Junior Finalists. It was my first-ever time even qualifying for Westminster let alone going. It was truly a dream come true. I knew I wanted to be able to show my heart dog my last time being able to show in Juniors at Montgomery because, next year, I will sadly be 18.
I have made some life-long friendships through showing in Juniors, which is very cool because shows obviously aren’t just in one state; they’re all over, so the friends and professional handlers I’ve met along the way of traveling have made it all worth it! I’ve learned that in this sport you can’t go on your own.
What does your dog mean to you now that you share this win together?
Annaliese North: Well, having accomplished this win hasn’t change whether I like him more or less. I fell in love with this dog right when he came to me. I never knew the true meaning of a heart dog before I started working with him. He truly goes with the flow and will do anything I ask of him, and I couldn’t have accomplished my goals without his help!
How has Junior Handling made a difference in your life? In your family’s life?
Annaliese North: I was the first-ever person in my family to show dogs, so when I started when I was six this was all new to us and different. In the past couple years, my Juniors career has changed drastically and not just with what I have accomplished but with so many people who have helped me along the years. I am so grateful for their guidance and support because, without them, I wouldn’t be where I am now.
I have made some life-long friendships through showing in Juniors, which is very cool because shows obviously aren’t just in one state; they’re all over, so the friends and professional handlers I’ve met along the way of traveling have made it all worth it! I’ve learned that in this sport you can’t go on your own. You need a support system, and without my parents’ support I wouldn’t be able to do any of this!
Would you like to say a few words about this year’s judge?
Annaliese North: This year’s judge was very special to me because not only did she award Harry and I Best Junior on Montgomery day, but what I liked about her is she looks around “just showy” dogs and finds the Juniors who have to work for it—which is a huge thing for me because, as all Terrier Juniors know, it’s not easy to show a Terrier in Juniors because they definitely have their days. But in the end, it is worth every minute! She was very kind and a great Juniors judge!
Can you offer any advice to Juniors looking to compete at next year’s Montgomery?
Annaliese North: Do it! Last year was my first year at Montgomery and it turned into my favorite show of the year! The environment is so easy-going and everyone is so kind to each other and, of course, the Terrier Group is so special. I say, definitely do it!! All the Juniors are very welcoming and kind. I’m very bummed this was my last year competing in Juniors, but I will definitely be back!
What’s next for Annaliese?
Annaliese North: This year is my senior year, so next year I’m going to college for Elementary Special Education teaching. I haven’t decided which college yet, but even though I’m going to college, dog shows will still have a special place in my heart and I will still always go to dog shows no matter what!