Interview with a Breeder/Owner Handler Annette Lewis
My name is Annette Lewis. I’m originally from Dallas, but I live in Denison, Texas, now.
I never thought I’d own a small breed again. Then along came Shih Tzu. I fell completely in love with this breed. Never thought that when I said, “I’d like to do something with my dog,” that I’d have a kennel of them! My favorite thing is puppies; watching them grow and being a part of teaching them, from learning to eat solid food to learning manners, and eventually, going to their new homes with the beginnings of skills for their lifetime. I absolutely love being a responsible breeder and teaching others!
1. When were you first introduced to the sport of purebred dogs? To your breed?
2. How many years in dogs? How many as an Owner Handler? As a Breeder?
Annette Lewis: As far as I can remember, 12 years as an Owner Handler, 11 years as a Breeder.
3 .Do you attend show handling classes? Have you attended any handling seminars?
Annette Lewis: I do go to handling classes on a regular basis with puppies, and older ones every so often. I haven’t attended handling seminars.
4 .Have you found virtual learning tools to be helpful? Classes? Videos? Websites? Social Media?
Annette Lewis: I have not tried any of these.
5. Do you compete in the National Owner-Handled Series? Are rankings important to you?
Annette Lewis: I do compete in NOHS, and rankings are nice, to see where you are within the breed.
6. How important is the Bred-By Class to you? How important are Specialties?
Annette Lewis: I like Bred-By, but it is not terribly important to me. I like young puppies to show in their classes. I love Specialties, as you get to see what else is out there in another area.
7. Is it a challenge to compete with your breed(s) as a Breeder/ Owner Handler?
Annette Lewis: It can be a definite challenge with so many pro handlers out now.
8. Are you intimidated by the Professional Handlers? By the Judges?
Annette Lewis: No, I’m not intimidated by them.
9. Who have been your mentor(s) as an Owner Handler? As a Breeder?
Annette Lewis: My first show Shih Tzu was from Dan Haley of Zephyr Shih Tzu. He has been a great mentor for all things show-related, grooming, and breeding. My mom was my first mentor in breeding, as she bred Poodles in the 1960s. I was right by her side learning. Dan has been a great mentor in breeding Shih Tzu, specifically.
10. How important is the Breeder/Owner Handler to the future of the dog sport?
Annette Lewis: I believe it’s very important, as the breeder is responsible for keeping the breed to the standard.
11. What are your goals as an Owner Handler? As a Breeder? Is there a milestone that has eluded you?
Annette Lewis: I want to encourage owners to learn how to show their dogs. You learn a ton of information, and I think it helps you to not get kennel- blind when you’re in the ring, and to evaluate for yourself what you see in the breed.