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Interview with the Breeder/Owner Handler Jenny Henry

Jenny Henry

Interview with the Breeder/Owner Handler Jenny Henry

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

Jenny Henry: When I was younger, my mother raised (American) Cocker Spaniels. So, in 2005, I got a Chocolate Tri Roan Cocker to learn how to show dogs. I learned the basics of showing and loved it. I had to stop because of life and family. I got my first German Shepherd Dog in 2016 and started to show in UKC and then AKC. My husband always wanted Redbone Coonhounds, so I looked for a puppy for him. We got my first Redbone, “Rebel,” in 2020 and have just fallen in love with the breed.

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

Jenny Henry: I always had dogs growing up. I’ve been showing German Shepherd Dogs, as an owner handler, for five years and Redbone Coonhounds for three years. I just recently produced my first well-bred German Shepherd litter in January 2023.

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

Jenny Henry: I took handling classes when I had my Cockers. I have taken a few, here and there, at shows when offered.

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

Jenny Henry: I have found that some virtual tools can be helpful, and have taken multiple AKC Canine College classes. I have learned handling techniques from watching online videos of Breed and Group judging. I have also asked for opinions in online Conformation groups, and have learned that you had better be prepared if you want to succeed in the show ring.

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

Jenny Henry: I do compete in the National Owner-Handled Series. I have done well with both of my boys that I’m showing this year and look forward to seeing their rankings.

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

Jenny Henry: I’ve only shown in the Bred-By Class a few times, as I am now showing my first bred-by German Shepherd Dog puppy, which we excitingly won Best Bred-By Exhibitor at the 2023 AKC National Championship! We will be entering him in his first GSD Specialties. Redbones do not have Breed Specialties, but we have participated in a few Group Specialties.

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

Jenny Henry: German Shepherds can be a challenge for an Owner Handler, but Redbones tend to be predominantly owner-handled. However, I enjoy the challenge to push myself!

Jenny Henry

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

Jenny Henry: I’ve had a few great mentors in the show world who have helped me, from grooming to presenting. But the two mentors who have helped me the most have been Kathryn Taylor and Pat Jenkins. They have both helped me grow as a confident handler and feel like I belong in the regular Group ring. As a breeder, I talk to many other breeders within my breeds and try to listen and learn what I can to make the most responsible choices.

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

Jenny Henry: Breeder/Owner Handlers are critical for the sport to continue.

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

Jenny Henry: I suggest to do as much research into your breed as possible, and learn which genetic influences you need to watch or breed for. Be responsible and make educated choices. If you decide to breed, know what you’re looking for and why. Look at your dogs, know their faults, and breed to dogs that will result in improvement towards the Breed Standard.

Jenny Henry

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

Jenny Henry: My goals are to see my young GSD grow up and continue to stay competitive as he matures, and also to produce my first Redbone litter. I will continue to show my two boys and see what we can achieve next! I would love to celebrate the victory of finishing my first home-bred champion!

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

Jenny Henry: As I was just learning to show, I had a great mentor tell me, “Quit running like a girl!” I was taking little bouncy steps as I ran around the ring, which caused the dogs I was handling to also run with little bouncy steps. So, I worked hard at watching other handlers in the ring, and I practiced taking longer, smoother strides. I repeated that in my head until it helped to change my running style. To this day, I hear that comment in my head! That one funny comment has improved my skills as a handler much more than I ever imagined it would!

I suggest to do as much research into your breed as possible, and learn which genetic influences you need to watch or breed for.