Interview With Owner Handler Heather Roozee
I am a professional groomer in DeKalb, Illinois. I started my early life with Standardbred racehorses and turned to pet grooming in 2000, to provide a more stable life for my young daughter. I’ve owned and operated A Groomery Pet Grooming since 2002.
I’m a multi-year member of Groom Team USA, an organization that tallies points from Grooming Competitions to have the top competitors go overseas and compete in the World Contest for medals, similar to the Olympics. In 2017, I was the No. 1 handstripping groomer in the United States. My Airedale, “Zeppelin” (GCH Timberwyk Peak Performance), was my canvas for all of that year and together we won over four Bests in Show and competed all over the country. Zeppelin was also the first dog I ever showed in AKC Conformation.
I have had Airedales since 2004, and have finished Grand Championships in AKC Conformation on both dogs that I have shown. I am currently showing Zeppelin’s nephew, “Hudson” (BIS MRBIS MBISS GCHS Timberwyck The Rock). Together, we were in the top standings in the country for Airedale Terriers the last two years, winning over 45 Terrier Group placements, a Best in Show, and multiple Reserve Bests in Show.
I teach handstripping seminars and webinars all over the country and in Canada. I love to teach and help anyone excel in learning how to trim their show Airedales.
How were you first introduced to the sport of purebred dogs? To your breed?
Heather Roozee: I started grooming pets over 20 years ago, and as a new groomer learning the breeds, I was watching Westminster on TV and saw the Airedale Terrier. I was immediately in love with the breed and started to do more research on them.
How many years in dogs? In your breed?
Heather Roozee: I have been grooming pets for 23 years, and got my first Airedale Terrier as a pet in 2004.
Do you attend show handling classes? Have you attended in-person handling seminars?
Heather Roozee: Yes, I have attended local handling classes in the past, as well as online handling classes and tutorials.
Have you found virtual learning tools to be helpful? Videos? Websites? Social Media? AKC Canine College?
Heather Roozee: Yes! Online sources abound, and there is SO much information to be found that can take your handling skills from novice to pro!
Do you compete in the National Owner-Handled Series? Are rankings important to you?
Heather Roozee: I no longer compete in the NOHS Series.
In which class(es) are you most likely to enter your dog(s)?
Heather Roozee: My current Airedale Terrier is a top-ranked special, so, Best of Breed.
Who have been your mentor(s) as an Owner Handler?
Heather Roozee: My mentors include my dog’s breeder, Susan Kuhn, as well as many other Airedale breeders and breeder-friends of many different breeds.
What are the benefits of competing with your breed(s) as an Owner Handler?
Heather Roozee: Airedales are very time-consuming to trim, so it saves a lot of money showing your own dog. They also bond very closely with their people, and nothing means more than having a beautiful bond with your own dog.
How are you encouraging new exhibitors to participate in the sport?
Heather Roozee: I teach hands-on handstripping seminars all over the country, as well as offer online classes to encourage owners to learn to trim their dogs themselves. This is the largest hurdle in my breed, which prevents so many from trying to show their own Airedales.
Are there any suggestions you’d like to pass along about the presentation of your breed(s)?
Heather Roozee: Don’t expect perfect statues. They are terriers and should have some fire and spunk, yet they should be trained. And they need to be trimmed and groomed very well.
What are your goals as an Owner Handler? Is there a victory that has eluded you?
Heather Roozee: I have achieved so many of my goals—and then some! We just won our National Floater! My biggest goal is to go have fun with my dog. I have gotten to travel the country, compete at the biggest shows and the highest levels, and be competitive with the top dogs and professional handlers in my breed, all with the best friend that sleeps at the foot of my bed. That is what it is all about for me. That being said, everyone wants to win the breed at Montgomery!