Interview with an Owner Handler, Janet York
Janet York: I reside in Manhattan and Pound Ridge, New York, with my many Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. I have owned, bred, and loved these small Spaniels since 1986. I am a successful breeder, author and artist, sharing my time between those ventures and spending time with my three children and four grandchildren.
In the beginning, I joined the National Owner-Handled Series to show my dogs with my peers on the same playing field. At times, the judges were not knowledgeable. Still, it was a venue to train my young dogs and gain confidence in my dogs that I chose to special. Now, with the new rules and regulations, the judges are more knowledgeable of the Toy Breeds or they are those who are seeking to judge the Toy Breeds. Interestingly, I often see a larger entry of Toys in the NOHS than in the main ring, which I find very encouraging.
Since NOHS inception, I have had three of my Cavaliers, (Twist, Catcher, and now, Treasure) in the No. 1 spot in Breed. In 2017, my dog, “Catcher” (AKC GCH & CH, CAN GCH & CH Piccadil’s Dream A Little of Me BN CD RN RA RE GCG), became the No. 1 Dog in all-breed competition—this was a glorious win which I will cherish forever.
This year is a particularly difficult one for me, as my dog, “Treasure,” and I are presently No. 1 in NOHS Breed and No. 15 All-Breed, but due to my car accident I will not be able to finish this year’s competition. I will always value my time in the NOHS ring and will continue to participate.
I look forward to 2023 with a keen interest, both in NOHS and the regular Group, as well as continuing with Agility, Obedience, Rally, and Scent Work.
Where do I live? How many years have I been an Owner Handler?
Janet York: I live in Manhattan and Pound Ridge, New York. I have competed as an Owner Handler since 1996 in AKC; 1986 at other clubs previous to 1996.
How did I get my start in my breed? In the sport?
Janet York: My kids went off to boarding school and they suggested I get a dog, and I said I needed to research it. I wanted a small dog that would fit in a Sherpa bag, one that liked kids, liked cats, and was a bird-shooting, small Spaniel. I found the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel met all of these needs. My first Cavalier (Piccadilly) was a very good bird dog; plus, Show dog, Agility dog, Obedience dog, and Freestyle dog. All can be seen on my YouTube page.
Have I always loved to show dogs? Have I always been a dog person?
Janet York: I grew up with Cocker Spaniels and one Smooth Dachshund whom I adored. I’ve always loved all animals, especially horses and dogs, but my Cavalier made me a true dog person.
Is there a story behind my decision to show my own dog?
Janet York: I’ve always wanted to show my own dog. I’ve been an Owner Handler since day-one with Cavaliers in AKC since 1996.
What makes showing my own dog so special to me?
Janet York: All the dogs I show are my teammates and we perform together in other venues besides Breed. I figure out which Performance events my dogs like; its varies from dog to dog, just like their personalities. You can see me in the Breed ring, Obedience, Rally, Scent Work, and formerly, in Agility.
In my opinion, is there a secret to having a great dog/handler partnership?
Janet York: I have always said that Cavaliers show best with their own owners. There really is no secret, that is just the truth. They want nothing more than to be by my side.
Do I compete in the National Owner-Handled Series? If so, for how many years?
Janet York: Yes, I do, since its inception. In 2017, Catcher ended the year Number One All-Breed in Owner-Handled. I think I’ve always been Number One Cavalier in Owner-Handled since I’ve been competing, but I need to double-check the records.
What goals did I set for myself and for my dog in 2022? What about 2023?
Janet York: I’m continually trying to figure that out, between showing in Conformation and all of the Performance venues. My goals arise when I see the talent in the dogs I am showing. One of my goals is to finish three bitches and one dog who only need majors to become champions. There are just no majors anywhere, and when you are lucky enough to find one, exhibitors often do not show up for one reason or another. It is completely frustrating.
As I continue to train my dogs, other goals arise. For instance, keeping my Special in the Top 5.
However, I DID just complete the major goal of getting RACH in Rally with my dog, “Jet.” Also, my friend, Teri Nolan, who shows my dogs in Agility, had a goal to get my dog, “Bravo,” his MACH 2—which she did!
Am I going to Orlando? If so, what’s it like to have a top NOHS dog this year?
Janet York: I have been invited to go to Orlando; however, I am unable to attend due to family festivities. I am honored to have been invited. It’s always wonderful to be recognized for my hard work of showing in Owner-Handled.
Just for laughs, do I have a funny story that I can share about my experiences as an Owner Handler?
Janet York: It’s perhaps not always so funny in the moment, but later, if you can laugh about things, you can get through just about any tough show circumstances.
Have you ever had to look your absolute best, during absolutely crazy weather?! In the show world, we have to rush from one judging ring to another, sometimes quite quickly. Its chaotic at the best of times, but imagine having to rush through crazy weather in and out, your hair, the dog’s hair, blowing all over the place trying not to get wet! At least you hope you don’t have makeup melting off your face due to rain or heat!
On one occasion at Best in Show Owner-Handled, it was pouring rain and thundering, and we ALL know how much dogs love thunder… but by some miracle, my dog couldn’t have cared less. Not a single care in the world, it seemed. I’m, of course, half-frantic because of the rain and wind. (Even under tents it can still cause a ruckus.) When giving out the Best in Show ribbon, the judge said, “I’m giving the ribbon to the Cavalier because not only is he a beautiful dog, he’s the only one of these seven dogs that was not at all phased by the horrific weather we are experiencing.” We all got a bit of a chuckle.
Are you looking for a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy?
The best way to ensure a long and happy relationship with a purebred dog is to purchase one from a responsible breeder. Not sure where to begin finding a breeder? Contact the National Parent Club’s Breeder Referral person, which you can find on the AKC Breeder Referral Contacts page.
Want to help rescue and re-home a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel dog?
Did you know nearly every recognized AKC purebred has a dedicated rescue group? Find your new best friend on the AKC Rescue Network Listing.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Dog Breed Magazine
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Read and learn more about the gentle Cavalier King Charles Spaniel dog breed with articles and information in our Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Dog Breed Magazine.
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