1. When were you first introduced to the sport of purebred dogs? To your breed?
Nancy Wargas: I stumbled onto Anatolian Shepherd Dogs while showing Quarter Horses at The All-American Quarter Horse Congress in 1995. I was active in showing horses and had only owned one dog prior, a Labrador mix. I saw this adorable foundation stock puppy and brought her home as a companion for me, and my home and barn.
2. How many years in dogs? How many as an Owner Handler? As a Breeder?
Nancy Wargas: I first began having an interest in showing my Anatolian Shepherd Dogs when a professional handler stopped in to see my dogs. He told me that I had quality dogs and really should be showing them. I had been breeding because I did not want to be without quality Anatolian Shepherd Dogs. I bred for several years before I started showing in AKC conformation classes. I entered in Owner-Handled classes and I was downright terrible at it. I had been told, “It is just like showmanship classes with Quarter Horses.” So, I proudly put the leash in two hands and paraded around the ring, Luckily, there were some very helpful folks who came to my rescue, both professionals and non-professionals.
I first began having an interest in showing my Anatolian Shepherd Dogs when a professional handler stopped in to see my dogs. He told me that I had quality dogs and really should be showing them.
I had been breeding because I did not want to be without quality Anatolian Shepherd Dogs.
3. Do you attend show handling classes? Have you attended any handling seminars?
Nancy Wargas: I lived in a very rural area and joined a wonderful kennel club over an hour away, but they did not offer handling classes for conformation. I got the opportunity to attend conformation handling classes just a few years ago when I relocated to South Carolina and joined the Greenville Kennel Club.
4. Have you found virtual learning tools to be helpful? Classes? Videos? Websites? Social Media?
Nancy Wargas: I have found the classes and videos purchased from professionals to be very helpful and most enjoyable.
5. Do you compete in the National Owner-Handled Series? Are rankings important to you?
Nancy Wargas: I have enjoyed participating in the Owner-Handled Series and have often ranked in the Top 5 of my breed in OH end-of-year stats.
6. How important is the Bred-By Class to you? How important are Specialties?
Nancy Wargas: I mostly achieve my dogs’ championship status via the Bred-By Exhibitor Classes. Although I have not been able to attend National Specialties every year, I enjoy seeing other breeders and wonderful dogs when I can attend. I believe breed clubs should be a venue for their breed, focusing on education, the importance of breed standards, and promoting good sportsmanship.
7. Is it a challenge to compete with your breed(s) as a Breeder/Owner Handler?
Nancy Wargas: I have always found it enjoyable to compete with other breeders who are usually very good sportsmen.
8. Are you intimidated by the Professional Handlers? By the Judges?
Nancy Wargas: I am not intimidated by professional handlers; on the contrary, I find them to be knowledgeable, helpful, and often a lot of fun. I have had the good fortune of breeding and showing some wonderful dogs. Professional handlers have always congratulated me on my wins. I am not intimidated by judges, I am in the ring to receive their opinion and judgement, and their view of the breed standard.
I am not intimidated by professional handlers; on the contrary, I find them to be knowledgeable, helpful, and often a lot of fun.
I have had the good fortune of breeding and showing some wonderful dogs. Professional handlers have always congratulated me on my wins.
9. Who have been your mentor(s) as an Owner Handler? As a Breeder?
Nancy Wargas: Some of my best mentors include some very gifted professional handlers, several judges, and some fellow breeders.
10. How important is the Breeder/Owner Handler to the future of the dog sport?
Nancy Wargas: I believe the breeders have the responsibility of maintaining the quality of their breed. A well-bred, well-socialized Anatolian Shepherd Dog that has been bred to pass on healthy genetics, as evidenced by health-testing, with proper structure and movement and temperament can truly do it all; from a family companion, therapy dog, service dog, show dog, livestock guardian… or doing it all!
11. What are your goals as an Owner Handler? As a Breeder? Is there a milestone that has eluded you?
Nancy Wargas: I have been blessed with having bred some wonderful ASDs, receiving multiple Group Placements, including Group One, and breed club BOB at a Regional Specialty. National Specialty honors include Best of Opposite, Best of Winners, Winners Dog, and Winners Bitch. Best in Show and winning the ASD Specialty have eluded me. I plan on breeding the best dogs that I can for as long as I can. It is my passion. Winning is not everything… loving your dogs is.
12. Is there a favorite story that you can share about your experiences as a Breeder/Owner Handler?
Nancy Wargas: A veteran contacted me years ago. He stated that he had planned to take his life the very day one of my therapy ASDs visited him at a Veterans Hospital. It was seeing the love in that dog’s eyes that gave him hope to go on.
Thank you for the opportunity of going down memory lane. You made me smile!