Pat Cordray | Gordon Setter. I have been showing dogs since 1974 when I first started showing my six-month-old Irish Setter puppy that I had bred—we were both total novices! The Irish were extremely popular back then… but I did complete his championship and learned A LOT along the way. I got involved with Gordon Setters in 1976 and have owner-handled all of my Gordons to their championships, some achieving Top Breed Rankings. I love the sport of showing dogs, the teamwork of the “me and my dog,” and the good friends I’ve met along the way! Showing dogs is my passion and I totally enjoy the National Owner-Handled Series.
1. When were you first introduced to the sport of purebred dogs? To your breed?
I was introduced to dog shows when I purchased my first Irish Setter from longtime Irish breeders who showed their Irish. While showing my Irish, I saw the Gordon Setters being shown and bought my first Gordon in 1976.
2. How many years in dogs? How many as an Owner Handler?
I’ve been showing in conformation since 1974—always as an owner handler. (Of course, there was no NOHS back then.)
3. Do you attend show handling classes? Have you attended any handling seminars?
I attend show handling classes while training my young dogs to show or to refresh a veteran.
4. Have you found virtual learning tools to be helpful? Classes? Videos? Websites? Social Media?
I have found some online articles and books to be helpful, especially when I first started showing.
5. Do you compete in the National Owner-Handled Series? Are rankings important to you?
Yes, I started competing in the NOHS about six years ago. And yes, the Top 10 Rankings have been a goal.
6. In which class(es) are you most likely to enter your dog(s)? Why?
I own a GCHB CH Gordon Setter, so I enter him in the Best of Breed Class and the Owner-Handled competition.
7. Is it a challenge to compete with your breed(s) as an Owner Handler?
The challenge is to win the BOBOH and to win/place in the NOHS Group. Showing in different areas of the US offers different competition.
8. Are you intimidated by the professional handlers? By the judges?
No, I am not intimidated by either the professional handlers or the judges. We all, obviously, love the sport of purebred dogs.
9. Who have been your mentor(s) as an Owner Handler?
The breeder of my first Irish Setter (1974) helped me out with showing and grooming tips when I first started showing.
10. How important is the Owner Handler to the future of the dog sport?
I believe that the owner handler is extremely important to the future of the dog sport.
11. What are your goals as an Owner Handler? Is there a victory that has eluded you?
My goals as an owner handler are to keep my dog ranked in the top of his breed and to win NOHS BIS.
12. Is there a funny story that you can share about your experiences as an Owner Handler?
A funny story? I was showing a very high energy Gordon Setter puppy bitch when the judge (who was wearing a corsage on her lapel) bent down to examine her. The puppy decided to grab the corsage, and all I could remember was seeing the flower petals falling all over the mat. Good thing the judge had a sense of humor. She just laughed and said, “Puppies!”