We live in Greeley, Colorado, with our four Welsh Springer Spaniels, two cats, and a bunch of chickens.
When not showing dogs, I am the Education & Event Director for CuraCore VET. We teach science-based, integrative medicine, such as medical acupuncture, to veterinarians.
1. When were you first introduced to the sport of purebred dogs? To your breed?
Sharon Sherwood: We purchased our first show dog, a Golden Retriever, in 1997. We had Goldens exclusively until we were introduced to Welsh in 2010—and I was smitten. In 2011, we got our first Welsh and we have never looked back.
2. How many years in dogs? How many as an Owner Handler?
Sharon Sherwood: My husband, David, and I have always had dogs, but I started showing in 1997. I was bitten by the show bug and have been showing ever since. I have always handled my own dogs. It’s why I wanted to get into showing to begin with; to do something fun and meaningful with my dogs.
3. Do you attend show handling classes? Have you attended any handling seminars?
Sharon Sherwood: We’re blessed to have many great kennel clubs here in Colorado, so I have attended many classes and I still do when we have a young dog coming up. I’ve done several seminars over the years, but the most meaningful was with Bill Lauderdale—I still hear his words in my head every time I enter a ring.
4. Have you found virtual learning tools to be helpful? Classes? Vid- eos? Websites? Social Media?
Sharon Sherwood: For studying breed standards, yes. For actually going into the ring, nothing beats “doing.” In the early years, I told myself I should learn one new thing every time I step foot in a ring, and I believe I did that—and that’s paying off now.
5. Do you compete in the National Owner-Handled Series? Are rankings important to you?
Sharon Sherwood: I’m very proud that I can say I am an Owner Handler—and I enjoy showing in NOHS. Rankings are important, as I want to know how we stack up against the other WSS out there. It’s fun having a very competitive dog that genuinely loves the show ring. His rankings for All-Breed and Breed are very important as well. Let’s be honest, it’s fun being #1!
6. In which class(es) are you most likely to enter your dog(s)? Why?
Sharon Sherwood: I’m currently showing The Captain and he’s in BOB, but we have a young girl coming up and I will show her in Bred-By. I’m proud of my dogs, and I don’t think I would try to show something substandard. And being able to have a quality Bred-By should be every breeder’s goal.
7. Is it a challenge to compete with your breed(s) as an Owner Handler?
Sharon Sherwood: When I started in Welsh, seeing a pro on one was almost unheard of—now it’s extremely normal. If you show a good dog, to a good judge, the handler should not matter. We’re living proof of that.
8. Are you intimidated by the Professional Handlers? By the Judges?
Sharon Sherwood: Not at all. The bulk of the Pro Handlers I know have been nothing but gracious, helpful, and very supportive; same with Judges.
9. Who have been your mentor(s) as an Owner Handler?
Sharon Sherwood: I have to go back to Bill Lauderdale as the single biggest influence on my handling, and the sport as a whole. Though he’s no longer with us, he’s very much a part of why I love it. Shaun Jordan and his wife, Donna, are now incredible mentors and dear friends. Shaun was instrumental in our going AKC NOHS Best in Show in Orlando, as he helps me “keep my head in the game.” I’m forever grateful for their friendship and guidance.
10. How important is the Owner Handler to the future of the dog sport?
Sharon Sherwood: AKC states that 80% of exhibitors are Owner Handlers. That’s pretty significant, so it absolutely is important to the sport. I believe most who show their own dogs do it for the same reasons I do—I greatly enjoy it. If you are not having fun, you might want to re-evaluate why you are showing dogs to begin with. It’s certainly not for everyone!
11. What are your goals as an Owner Handler? Is there a victory that has eluded you?
Sharon Sherwood: I do have a few “bucket list” wins. While we’ve shown at several National Specialties, The Captain was rather young, then COVID hit and we’ve had a few years without showing at one. Same with Westminster; I just wanted him to go and have fun, as he was barely two years old, and we accomplished that. Now that he’s very competitive, those are both high on the list.
12. Is there a funny story that you can share about your experiences as an Owner Handler?
Sharon Sherwood: There is not any one particular story. David is almost always with me (he’s my best supporter) and we make each and every show fun. So, we’re always laughing. I can’t think of a better way to spend time!