Interview with an Owner Handler, Meg Callea
Where do I live? How many years have I been an Owner Handler?
Meg Callea: I live in Shelton, Washington. I have been an Owner Handler for as long as I have been showing dogs; some 50 years now. I did show dogs for others in the late 1970s while showing my own dogs.
How did I get my start in your breed? In the sport?
Meg Callea: My Dad was on the fire department, and when it was time to add a dog the family they chose a Dalmatian. Mom took him to an Obedience class where the trainer said he was a nice dog and told us about a fun match where our dog won a First Place ribbon. I showed in Juniors and got a candy bar. Hooked!
Have I always loved to show dogs? Have I always been a dog person?
Meg Callea: I have loved showing dogs ever since that fun match! When you get your first dog at 11 years old and never look back… I guess so.
Is there a story behind my decision to show my own dog?
Meg Callea: As a kid, I lived to go to dog shows and show the dogs. I have always shown my own dogs, and I have always been very proud to be an Owner Handler.
What makes showing my own dog so special to me?
Meg Callea: Showing my own dogs is special because I’ve bred the dogs I show and I am so proud of my small breeding program. I have only once shown a dog in NOHS that I owned but did not breed. I bred his mother, however, and she is of my breeding on both sides of her pedigree.
In my opinion, is there a secret to having a great dog/handler partnership?
Meg Callea: Ohhh, there is no secret to it. It’s either there or it’s not. When it’s there you can make it bloom, mostly by making them think it’s all about them and it’s their idea! I really don’t train my dogs. I condition them to do what I need/want, always making them think that it’s their idea.
Do I compete in the National Owner-Handled Series? If so, for how many years?
Meg Callea: I have competed in NOHS since the first show where it was offered in the Pacific Northwest.
What goals did I set for myself and for my dog in 2022? What about 2023?
Meg Callea: The year 2021 was “Lilith’s” big year and she finished up No. 2 All-Breed, missing No. 1 by a mere 10 points. Last year was a very nice follow-up year, finishing up No. 7 All-Breed. We did not travel as much and showed at more specialties. So, far fewer NOHS points were available but it was a very good year, to say the least. 2023? Hopefully, puppies are in our future along with a few more specialty show weekends.
Am I going to Orlando? If so, what’s it like to have a top NOHS dog this year?
Meg Callea: No, we are not going this year. Lilith was bred in late October, so no way we could go. I would have loved to have gone, mostly because it is so much fun to be on the end of her lead when she is having a great time. And the bigger the show, the better Lilith shows.
Just for laughs, do I have a funny story that I can share about my experiences as an Owner Handler?
Meg Callea: Yes, when the NOHS Group judge questioned the ring steward if I was eligible for NOHS. The steward happened to be a Dal person who knew us well and assured the judge that I was NOHS eligible. When my friend asked why she questioned if I was eligible, the judge said that Lilith was too well trained and I was too good of a handler. Lilith won the Group and went on the win BIS-NOHS that day.