Interview with Owner Handler, Dawn Johnson
When were you first introduced to the sport of purebred dogs? To your breed?
Dawn Johnson: I was first introduced to purebred dogs in the early 1980s when I bought my first show dogs. I’ve owned, shown, and bred several breeds since then and bought my first Beauceron about 10 years ago.
How many years in dogs?
Dawn Johnson: I’ve had dogs my whole life. I started showing as an Owner Handler after I came back to showing after an eight-year break. So, I’ve been showing OH for nine years now.
Do you attend show handling classes? Have you attended any handling seminars?
Dawn Johnson: I’ve attended classes on and off for years with several different instructors. I’ve never been to a seminar.
Have you found virtual learning tools to be helpful? Classes? Videos? Websites? Social Media?
Dawn Johnson: Most all of my learning is self-taught, trial and error, and through watching at shows; observing the pros and duplicating it.
Do you compete in the National Owner-Handled Series? Are rankings important to you?
Dawn Johnson: Yes, I do compete in the NOHS.
In which class(es) are you most likely to enter your dog(s)?
Dawn Johnson: I enter my dog in Best of Breed because he’s a Special.
Is it a challenge to compete with your breed(s) as an Owner Handler?
Dawn Johnson: The biggest challenge is juggling the two Groups. I’ve shown two breeds in both OH and regular Groups, and have had to choose which dog not to show in which Group because of them being back-to-back.
Are you intimidated by the Professional Handlers? By the Judges?
Dawn Johnson: I’m not intimidated by any pros or judges, but I’ve had plenty of handlers try dirty tactics to foil my showing in the ring. But, for the most part, I’ve learned how to avoid most.
Who have been your mentor(s) as an Owner Handler?
Dawn Johnson: I have taken Conformation classes at multiple clubs and with different instructors, but I’ve never had a single mentor. I’ve basically learned by showing through trial and error at dog shows. The humility of screwing up in the ring is a great teacher to try harder and practice more.
How important is the Owner Handler to the future of the dog sport?
Dawn Johnson: I think it keeps breeders and non-pros in the ring and competing. Without it, it would be discouraging to show after your dog is finished.
What are your goals as an Owner Handler? Is their a victory that has eluded you?
Is there a funny story that you can share about your experiences as an Owner Handler?
Dawn Johnson: Sometimes they will throw anyone in to judge NOHS because some judges don’t stick around and don’t take it seriously. Once, I had to remind the person the club had found to fill in to check the bite and dewclaws on my dog as she was a bit lost on how to judge the breed.
“Witty,” my male Beauceron, is going on three years in the No. 1 OH spot for Breed. He’s also currently No. 1 male in his breed. He has multiple wins in the regular and OH Herding Groups, and more OHBIS and OHRBIS than any Beauceron in history. He is one of three of my Beaucerons that have won OH BIS with me. All of my dogs are exclusively living with, trained, handled, and conditioned by myself.
Are you looking for a Beauceron 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 Beauceron 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.
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