Interview with Owner Handler Ashley Silver

Ashley Silver with 2 of her Hamiltonstovare dogs

I am Ashley Silver and I have Hamiltonstovare. I co-founded the Hamiltonstovare Club of America and my kennel name is Oceania Hamiltonstovare. I’ve been showing dogs of various breeds for over 24 years. My Hamiltonstovare are pioneers for the breed in the US in that my first Hamiltonstovare is also the first FSS Breed, first Hound, and fourth dog ever to earn the CGCA. My Hamiltonstovare are also Service Dogs to help me with my chronic disabilities.

We participate in performance sports as well, including Dock Diving, Weight Pull, and Fast CAT. Currently, I have the only Hamiltonstovare in breed history globally to have ever earned Dock Diving titles. My husband and I are based out of Central Virginia, where we are active members of the Virginia Kennel Club.

Hamiltonstovare dog participating in dock diving
Oceania Hamiltonstovare


How were you first introduced to the sport of purebred dogs? To your breed?

Ashley Silver: I saw my first dog show when I was 12 years old and was mesmerized; my mother took me to my first show as a spectator in Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1998. At that time, I adored Beagles and did everything in my power to meet Beagle people. By the next year, I was helping out established breeders and showing in the ring. I was first introduced to Hamiltonstovare thanks to Animal Planet airing Crufts on TV one Saturday morning. I like bigger dogs and adore scenthounds, so I did everything that I could to learn as much about them. I got my first Hamiltonstovare in 2010.


How many years in dogs? In your breed?

Ashley Silver: I have been showing dogs for just over 24 years and showing Hamiltonstovare for 13 years.


Do you attend show handling classes? Have you attended in-person handling seminars?

Ashley Silver: I attend my local all-breed club’s handling classes as well as help teach them from time to time. I have been attending classes offered by the Virginia Kennel Club for over 20 years. I haven’t attended any handling seminars, but many of my instructors and mentors have.


Have you found virtual learning tools to be helpful? Videos? Websites? Social Media? AKC Canine College?

Ashley Silver: I think that social media has been a great place to learn about various, different techniques in order to handle my dogs better, but it does help tremendously to have a regular in-person class, especially one that benefits the local all-breed club. One of my dogs is a Breed reference for the AKC Canine College for Hamiltonstovare.

I think that social media has been a great place to learn about various, different techniques in order to handle my dogs better…


Do you compete in the National Owner-Handled Series? Are rankings important to you?

Ashley Silver: I wish I could compete in NOHS with my Hamiltonstovare but, since the breed is FSS and isn’t fully recognized by the AKC yet, that isn’t available to us.


In which class(es) are you most likely to enter your dog(s)?

Ashley Silver: It depends on who I am showing. I am currently showing a young German Shepherd Dog as well as my Hamiltonstovare. With my Hamiltonstovare, I am limited by the classes that I can enter due to the classes offered at FSS Open Shows, but I usually stick to Open and Bred-By. With my young German Shepherd Dog, I enter him in Am-Bred.

Ashley Silver's Oceania Hamiltonstovare dogs with hats
Oceania Hamiltonstovare


Who have been your mentor(s) as an Owner Handler?

Ashley Silver: Rachal McKee Sager and Janie Pronto have been my mentors for years for all things AKC-related and showing. With Hamiltonstovare, I rely heavily on Angela Leigh of Flixtonia Hamiltonstovare and the amazing work that the Svenska Hamiltonstovarforeningen and Norsk
Hamiltonringen do.


What are the benefits of competing with your breed(s) as an Owner Handler?

Ashley Silver: With Hamiltonstovare that’s all you can be, as Professional Handlers aren’t allowed to compete in FSS Open Shows, but it does keep the community very close and supportive of each other, especially in the US.


How are you encouraging new exhibitors to participate in the sport?

Ashley Silver: I teach handling classes when I can. I am also working towards becoming a judge for FSS Open Shows and Junior Showmanship. I utilize social media a lot to try and gain public attention and participation within the Hamiltonstovare breed. As the breed is very rare in the US, we need all the help and encouragement possible.


Are there any suggestions you’d like to pass along about the presentation of your breed(s)?

Ashley Silver: Hamiltonstovare are a “markings” breed, but they are a working scenthound. Their structure as a rectangular hound should be paramount over markings every single time. The tail should always be presented down when the dog is standing, and judges should never attempt to lift the tail over the back as this causes the dogs to be uncomfortable and even in pain.


What are your goals as an Owner Handler? Is there a victory that has eluded you?

Ashley Silver: Having an FSS breed, my goals are broken down into categories as my primary motivation is to promote, educate, and advance the Hamiltonstovare in an appropriate way that the Swedish people will approve of. I would love to win Best in Open Show with one of my dogs in the traditionally large FSS Open Shows leading up to Orlando. (I have won the FSS Group but never won Best in Show.)

I would also love to compete at Crufts with my Hamiltonstovare as well as compete in a World Dog Show. Hamiltonstovare are fully recognized by the UKC, so it would be nice to win UKC Premier or one of their major shows.


Is there a funny story that you can share about your experiences as an Owner Handler?

Ashley Silver: As an Owner Handler with an extremely rare breed, I am used to doing breed education with Hamiltonstovare all the time. I am used to stewards and judges just giving up on the pronunciation of the breed name, so I will give the stewards and judges little abbreviations like “Hamilton” or “Hammie” to help.

My absolute favorite time that a judge or steward called me into the ring was at a UKC show where they said, “Hey you, you know what you have. Go on in…” and I did. When it was time for Groups, I ended up winning the Group under Richard Beauchamp who talked to me afterwards about how lovely my first Hamiltonstovare, “Alice,” was. It is still one of those moments that I have to pinch myself because his writing and knowledge was second to none.

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