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The Breeder/Owner Handler | Michelle “Muffin” Chaney

Michelle “Muffin” Chaney

The Breeder/Owner Handler | Michelle “Muffin” Chaney

I’m a hobby breeder living on a small farm in Southeastern Iowa. We own a pet grooming and boarding business and try to get to dog shows once or twice a month.

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

Michelle “Muffin” Chaney: I received my first Yorkshire Terrier as a birthday gift and started reading all about this wonderful breed. I knew a lady in my hometown who bred Yorkies and she encouraged me to show a puppy from the litter we had together.

2. How many years in dogs? How many as an Owner Handler? As a Breeder?

Michelle “Muffin” Chaney: I have been in dogs since 1985. I started showing my own puppies that I bred myself in 1988.

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

Michelle “Muffin” Chaney: Unfortunately, no. Living in rural Iowa there aren’t any classes close by.

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

Michelle “Muffin” Chaney: Yes, videos on social media of Yorkies competing can be very useful to watch and observe how different exhibitors show their dogs, and hopefully, pick up some ideas to better my presentation of my own dogs. Also, I review videos that have been taken of me. I will critique them and make adjustments as well.

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

Michelle “Muffin” Chaney: I have competed since its inception, usually just for fun and more ring time with the dog I was showing. This year, my goal was to be invited to NOHS in Orlando, and to my surprise we ended up No. 1 Yorkshire Terrier!

6. How important is the Bred-By Class to you? How important are Specialties?

Michelle “Muffin” Chaney: Since I have only bought a couple of dogs over the years, I show out of the Bred-By Class as much as possible. And now that they offer a Puppy Bred-By Class, I look forward to more bred-by champions.

7. Is it a challenge to compete with your breed as a Breeder/Owner Handler?

There are many Breeder/Owner Handlers who present their dogs as well as a Professional Handler—and we have some amazing Professional Handlers in the Yorkie ring.

8. Who have been your mentor(s) as an Owner Handler? As a Breeder?

Michelle “Muffin” Chaney: My original mentors were Marge Lewis, a professional handler who also bred Maltese and Yorkies (Almar), Janet Jackson (Steppin up), and Freeman & Mary Purvis (Melodylane). Over the years, many fellow breeder-exhibitors and handlers have shared their knowledge to get me where I am today.

9. How important is the Breeder/Owner Handler to the future of the sport? To your breed?

Michelle “Muffin” Chaney: Very important. For dog shows to continue, you have to have breeders who are interested in promoting and preserving the breeds.

10. What advice would you give to Owner Handlers who are thinking of breeding their dog(s)?

Michelle “Muffin” Chaney: Go to lots of dog shows and look for a dog that will complement your dog, and hopefully, help to improve upon what your dog is lacking. Get to know the breeder and prove yourself, that you have the best interests of the breed at heart.

11. What are your goals as a Breeder/Owner Handler? Is there a victory that has eluded you?

Michelle “Muffin” Chaney: My goals are to always try to improve upon the last generation, to present my dog to its best, and to have fun and enjoy my time with the Yorkies. A Best in Show would be a dream come true.

12. Is there a funny story that you can share about your experiences as a Breeder/Owner Handler?

Michelle “Muffin” Chaney: I entered my first dog show never ever having been to one. I had seen in books that they always put a red bow in the Yorkie’s topknot, so I went out and bought some ribbon and made a bow and used a twisty tie from a bread wrapper to secure it on her head! After Yorkies were done showing that day, Barbara Beissel was kind enough to take me over to her set up and gave me some pointers and a real Yorkie bow.