Interview with Owner Handler, Sarah Wade
Where do I live? How many years have I been an Owner Handler?
Sarah Wade: I have lived in Hope Mills, North Carolina, my whole life (28 years) and have been competing as an Owner Handler for over two years.
How did I get my start in my breed? In the sport?
Sarah Wade: I am a professional dog groomer and wanted to get into the world of shows dogs for multiple reasons. The first was to learn more about the conformation of the dog, the coat’s function, and to get my hands on the dogs for practical knowledge.
The second is that I was that little girl sitting on my couch every year watching Westminster and telling my parents that someday that would be me. I met my dog’s breeder, Meegan Pierotti-Tietje, at the vet clinic where I groom professionally. We talked for a while and she invited me out to her house to meet her dogs and get a handling lesson to see if I even like the sport. Well, when you read about Ibizan Hounds in AKC’s The Complete Dog Book you don’t expect to walk into a dog, room and have to catch a leaping dog.
Meegan and I had talked for years about dogs and breeds, and about what I needed and wanted in a show dog. I knew that I wanted a wash-and-wear breed as my first show dog—as I learned and made connections in the dog show world. After thinking for five years that I was going to get a Doberman, I changed my mind and completely committed to wire Ibizan Hounds. I was hooked! I loved my breeder’s dogs. They have amazing temperaments and personalities. I was smitten!
Three years after my commitment to wire Ibizan Hounds, right after my birthday, I got a phone call that the litter I had been waiting for was in the process of being conceived. In August, my boy, “Vinnie,” INT BIS GCH INT CH Heron and Hound’s Vintage Vitis Vinifera Blanc CGC TKN, was born and I knew I was in trouble from day-one. We bonded right way when I stayed to care for the puppies while my breeder went to the National Specialty—where she won with my dog’s sire!
Have I always loved to show dogs? Have I always been a dog person?
Sarah Wade: Yes, I have always been a dog person and still am—and always will be. I didn’t get into the dog show world until I was in my mid-twenties, sadly. I wish I had been able to compete in Junior Showmanship.
Is there a story behind my decision to show my own dog?
Sarah Wade: I knew I wanted to compete in the National Owner-Handled Series to prove a point, with him being my first show dog, that I can show and that I could be successful at it. Vinnie and I have accomplished so much together. He picked up two three-point majors on his very first show weekend.
What makes showing my own dog so special to me?
Sarah Wade: Showing my own dog is very special, as he is my very first well-bred purebred show dog. He got me started and I accomplished all of my “firsts” in the sport with him. Our relationship, the journey together, is something I will always remember and cherish.
In my opinion, is there a secret to having a great dog/handler partnership?
Sarah Wade: There really is no secret to having a relationship with your dog. Just like any relationship, it takes time and work. With dogs, the work can range from cuddling on the couch to training and conditioning, and getting ready for the next show.
There really is no secret to having a relationship with your dog. Just like any relationship, it takes time and work.
What goals did I set for myself and for my dog in 2022? What about 2023?
Sarah Wade: Vinnie and I started the year off with only three goals that I am pleased to say we have accomplished. The first goal was for a Top 20 ranked dog in the All-Breed and Breed stats; the second was to get an invite to the NOHS Finals; and lastly, to finish his Grand Championship.
We are currently setting out 2023 goals, a few of which are to finish is Grand Championship Bronze, to achieve the NOSH Bronze, and to get invited again to the NOHS Finals and maintain a Top 20 ranking.
Am I going to Orlando? If so, what’s it like to have a top NOHS dog this year?
Sarah Wade: I am very excited to say that I will be heading to Orlando this month to compete in the NOHS Finals with Vinnie. He was ranked the No. 5 OH Ibizan Hound and the No. 1 OH wire Ibizan Hound in the country with limited showing. It is a dream come true. I never expected to reach this goal so fast with my first show dog, but he is my everything and gives me his all in the ring. Vinnie and I look forward to seeing everyone in Orlando, so come by the Ibizan Hound ring to say hello!
Just for laughs, do I have a funny story that I can share about my experiences as an Owner Handler?
Sarah Wade: My funniest story actually occurred in a OH Group ring. Vinnie has a fascination with Otterhounds, and his favorite Otterhound girl was in the ring with us—and she was in season. She would “chirp” at him to get his attention, and they would stare at each other. When the judging was done and everyone was exiting the ring, he was walking backward just so he could maintain eye contact with her. He was so silly and everyone around got a good chuckle out of it.