Interview With Breeder/Owner Handler Denise Hummel

Breeder/Owner Handler Denise Hummel winning best of breed variety at a dog show


Interview With Breeder/Owner Handler Denise Hummel

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

Denise Hummel: In 2013, I visited my mother at a dog show where she was showing her Chow Chows. We both used to show horses when I was a teenager. I wanted to join her in the fun.


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

Denise Hummel: I had dogs my entire life as family pets. I have been showing Siberian Huskies for 10 years in Conformation and Rally Obedience. I’ve been a breeder for four years. As an Owner Handler, my first show dog is now a GCHB with two OHRBIS and a Top 10 OH finalist in 2019. My second is a Champion with a RI title, and my third is GCH and is in the Top 20 All-Breed statistics as of June 19, 2023. In 2019, I acquired my first show Papillon, CH Playtyme’s On A Covert Mission, aka “Ninja.”


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

Denise Hummel: I knew from my background in showing horses that the problem isn’t the animal, it’s the handler. I jumped on every learning opportunity that was available to me. I attended different drop-in classes in my area.


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

Denise Hummel: For me, the best fit was, and still is, private lessons from Pro Handlers. I’ve learned from a lot of people, not just one.


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

Denise Hummel: I do compete in the NOHS. It’s exciting. I enjoy competing with fellow Owner Handlers. We work very hard to achieve our goals. Many, like myself, started later in life, not as Junior Handlers or with a generational background of breeding and handling. However, our passion for our dogs and the sport is equal to theirs.


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

Denise Hummel: I have yet to compete in Bred-By. I’m looking forward to that as my next achievement. I like to attend a few Specialties each year to see what’s out there and to show off my own Specials. Honestly, the all-breed show is my comfort zone. I absolutely love seeing all the different breeds.


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

Denise Hummel: Yes! It’s always a challenge! There are a lot of quality Siberian Huskies, and showing is expensive! In addition, there’s politics. At some point you learn where the political lines are drawn, then you can take off your “cannon fodder” patch. In short, it boils down to the judges and I keep a list for every dog I show.


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

Denise Hummel: My No. 1 mentor is, was, and forever will be my mother, Christine Taylor, who passed last December. She taught me the greatest lessons: the “Golden Rule” and to believe in God. My Siberian Husky breeder-mentors are Anne and Brian Palmer from whom my foundation bitch GCHB Highlanders Shadow Wood Sonder CGC came. My trainer and Papillon breeder-mentors are Tammy and Cherrish DeWitt. They’ve taught me the highest levels of handling with integrity.


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

Denise Hummel: Owner Handlers are extremely important to the sport! At the next dog show, look around and then imagine all the Owner Handlers absent. What’s left?


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

Denise Hummel: Take your time deciding and make a plan. If you have a successful veteran breeder to mentor you, let them help you. If you don’t, acquire one. Do all the required health tests for your breed. Work with an established reproductive veterinarian.


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

Denise Hummel: I can’t complain about my achievements, but I still would like a BIG RIBBON! I’ve been at this for 10 years and I still don’t have a “WOW Ribbon” with that awesome rosette and wedding gown trail. My goal is simple: OHBIS!


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

Denise Hummel: Not enough time or paper. That’s a whole other chapter!

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