Interview with an Owner Handler, Hailey Perkins
Where do I live? How many years have you been an Owner Handler?
We live in Muncie, Indiana. Amber Corduan has been an Owner Handler for seven years. Hailey Perkins has been an Owner Handler for three years, but Amber primarily does the showing.
How did I get your start in my breed? In the sport?
Hailey Perkins: We found a person with Nederlandse Kooikerhondjes at a show right before they were AKC recognized. We had seen the breed a few times and wanted to learn more about them. We decided at that show that we wanted one! We started following breeders across the country, looking at social media, etc. Since the breed was not much into the show ring yet, we didn’t have a lot of the ads, show photos, and posted pedigree stuff to look at. We went with our “gut” and met a breeder from Illinois. Out came “Luka.” We couldn’t ask for a better dog! We got him for love and companionship, with the hopes that he would do well in sports and showing. We were not disappointed.
Amber started in the sport about 20 years ago, when she met Phil and Jane Gray. She got her first Great Dane through them that she was encouraged to show. “Taylor” finished quickly. Two Whippets bred by Phil and Jane soon followed, then a few more Danes—and the rest is history!
Have we always loved to show dogs? Have we always been dog people?
Hailey Perkins: We’ve always been dog people and we’ve always loved sports. An honest answer: Showing may not be our favorite sport with our dogs, but we believe it’s important and we do love making sure that our breed is well represented. We do many other sports with our dogs as well.
Is there a story behind our decision to show our own dog?
Hailey Perkins: We had always entered the National Owner-Handled Series when we started showing our own dogs, and we were as shocked as everyone else when Luka began placing immediately. We take pride in the fact that we condition him, train him, and present him ourselves. Amber has used Professional Handlers before as well. They did a fantastic job and we appreciate that they were able to take dogs that we couldn’t present well in the ring and present them for us!
What makes showing our own dog so special to us?
Hailey Perkins: The relationship. We have routines and a relationship that makes the difference. Luca goes into that ring for us; he couldn’t care less what he’s doing as long as we are there.
In our opinion, is there a secret to having a great dog/handler partnership?
Hailey Perkins: Confidence, trust, and routine. Our dogs know what to expect from us, and we build their confidence for them to know what to do and what to expect in other situations. Our dogs trust us and we trust them. We build a relationship based on those three components. So, our dogs have the trust that we will put them in good situations, but still with the confidence to understand when it’s not a good situation.
Do we compete in the National Owner-Handled Series? If so, for how many years?
Hailey Perkins: Yes, we do, for as long as we’ve been showing!
What goals did we set for ourselves and for our dog in 2022? What about 2023?
- In 2021, we finished No. 3 in the National Owner-Handled Series with Luka, our Kooiker.
- Our goal for 2022 was to make it to No. 1 and we absolutely did! We placed in Groups at nearly every show we attended.
- Our other goal was to place top No. 5 in our breed for the 2023 Westminster qualifying period. While we are still waiting on final results, last we checked, we made it!
Next year will be interesting. We have a Greyhound puppy now and we may choose to sit out 2023 and hit it back in 2024 when he’s ready. Or we may decide to keep Luka going in 2023!
Are we going to Orlando? If so, what’s it like to have a top NOHS dog this year?
Hailey Perkins: Yes, we are. We couldn’t be more excited and proud of our dog and our breeder. We never expected so much recognition, but we appreciate every single judge who has seen our beautiful boy and decided that he is worthy of a placement.
Just for laughs, do we have a funny story that we can share about our experiences as an Owner Handler?
Hailey Perkins: In Lima, Ohio, the day after winning our first Owner-Handled Group One and Regular Sporting Group Two, the area received storms and rain that flooded the grounds and our camping spot. We walked through six inches of water, in freezing cold rain, carrying our dog with a raincoat over him to the Breed and Group rings. We lost. Then we tried to pack up as our stuff floated all around us. Finally, we tried to pull out… but the camper was stuck. We had to pay a tow truck to pull both the van and the camper out of the mud. It was not funny at the time, but we can laugh about it now. We also bought raincoats and boots to keep in our camper that very next day!