Interview with Owner Handler, Sara Rude – Purebred Great Dane and French Bulldog Dog Breeds
When were you first introduced to the sport of purebred dogs? To your breed?
Sara Rude: Growing up on a small farm, we always had a Great Dane as part of the family. When I met and married my husband, I introduced him to the world of Great Danes and, over the years, we have added several to our family.
When I met and married my husband, I introduced him to the world of Great Danes and, over the years, we have added several to our family.
It wasn’t until 2009 that I was introduced to the sport of purebred dogs. The introduction kind of fell into my lap when my husband was making a delivery one afternoon in Lawrenceville and he inadvertently made an introduction to breeder Nancy Simmons of Shorelines Great Danes. Long story short, she introduced my daughter, Katie, to Junior Showmanship and Conformation… and the rest is history, as they say.
When my daughter aged-out of Juniors in 2016, I wasn’t ready to walk away from the world of dog shows and decided to learn how to handle. At the time, we had a Great Dane puppy, “Josie.” She was my first show dog and a wonderful teacher. I was blessed with another puppy, “Trapper,” and now have added my beautiful “Annie.”
How many years in dogs? How many as an Owner Handler?
Sara Rude: I have been involved with show dogs, both Great Danes and French Bulldogs, for 13 years. I have been competing as an Owner Handler for six years with three Danes and a French Bulldog.
Do you attend show handling classes? Have you attended any handling seminars?
Sara Rude: Yes, I attend handling classes with instructor Denise Garber and have also taken classes with Jane Hobson. In addition, I was so lucky to attend seminar workshops with Greg Strong and Eric Salas.
Have you found virtual learning tools to be helpful? Classes? Videos? Websites? Social Media?
Sara Rude: Social media groups and videos are tremendous resources. I am addicted to the full library of handling videos offered by Laura Coomes. I am also forever Googling videos on handling techniques. There is so much knowledge out there.
Do you compete in the National Owner-Handled Series? Are rankings important to you?
Sara Rude: Yes, I do complete in the NOHS and think it is a wonderful program for Owner Handlers. I have competed in the NOHS since 2016 and am in awe of the quality dogs and handlers who compete! The rankings are a great goal, but they do not define what I consider my successes. I have a bucket list of things I would like to achieve; a Top 10 ranking definitely is on the list, but it is not by any means the only goal. I want to look back at the end of each show season and see how much I have grown in my skills and team building with my dogs.
In which class(es) are you most likely to enter your dog(s)? Why?
Sara Rude: Currently, I am competing with my Great Dane, Annie (GCH CH Legado N Danemark’s Heart of the Matter), in the Breed ring. However, when I have a class dog, I usually do the Puppy Classes and then either the Open or American-Bred Class. On occasion, if it is offered, I will enter the Amateur-Owner-Handler Class as I am proud to be an Owner Handler. I feel that if I have a good dog, the Amateur status will not inhibit my success.
Is it a challenge to compete with your breed(s) as an Owner Handler?
Sara Rude: Yes, there are so many incredibly talented Owner Handlers competing, not only in the Dane ring but in all rings. It is clear that we all work tremendously hard at our craft to perfect our skills. The competition is fierce, but there are such wonderful people to be met along the way.
Are you intimidated by the Professional Handlers? By the Judges?
Sara Rude: Honestly, no. To be truthful, when I am in the ring, I am so focused on my dogs and what I am doing. I forget there is even anyone else in the ring with me. Sometimes, I walk out of the ring and realize that I don’t remember what happened. There is something special about being one with your dog, and I think this is an advantage of being an Owner Handler.
Who have been your mentor(s) as an Owner Handler?
Sara Rude: Wow, what a question. There have been so many breeders and handlers willing to pass along their knowledge and experience. My husband is my greatest fan and mentor—he keeps me grounded and focused. I also have a wonderful mentor in my handling instructor, Denise Garber.
How important is the Owner Handler to the future of the dog sport?
Sara Rude: Dog shows and dog clubs cannot survive without the Owner Handler. We are entwined in the sport and play a critical role in the future of the sport.
What are your goals as an Owner Handler? Is there a victory that has eluded you?
Sara Rude: I have been truly blessed with the achievements of my Danes, which have included being awarded OHBIS and OHBISS. My goal is to earn a BIS, BISS, and AOM. I am also introducing my dogs to Performance events and hope to add some titles at the end of their names.
Dog shows and dog clubs cannot survive without the Owner Handler. We are entwined in the sport and play a critical role in the future of the sport.