Interview with an Owner Handler, Terrie Strom
Where do I live? How many years have I been an Owner Handler?
How did I get my start in my breed? In the sport?
Terrie Strom: My husband and I have always wanted a dog, but had to wait until we bought our first house. We were set on a Golden Retriever. Once, we were camping up the coast when I saw this beautiful BIG white dog. My husband told me it was a Great Pyrenees. I was so impressed by its size and thought that I just had to research this dog. I spent a couple of years reading about the breed and decided that it was for me. I was on a waiting list for a puppy for two years.
In the meantime, I wanted to go to a dog show so that I could touch and feel a Pyr. My dream came true and I was never more sure that this breed was for me. We finally got our puppy and the breeder encouraged me to show him. So, I read a couple of show books, How to Show Your Dog, and The Winning Edge by George Alston.
I then entered my first dog show, the Santa Barbara Kennel Club, where we won our first ribbon (which was blue) and I was hooked. I wanted to show my own dog all the way to his AKC Championship. It took me five years to get his Championship. I got all of his points but his last major. My good friend is a handler and I’d asked her for her help. She showed him the one time and got his second major for his championship.
Have I always loved to show dogs? Have I always been a dog person?
Terrie Strom: Our family has always had a dog, but I did not have one as an adult until I got my first Great Pyrenees. I really didn’t think about showing dogs. I’d had no interest, although my grandfather and aunt showed dogs.
Is there a story behind my decision to show my own dog?
Terrie Strom: I decided to show my dog because it would force me to groom him. (I know myself and would likely have put it off.) So, by showing him I would keep up his coat. Then, of course, I got “bit by the show bug.” I really liked showing dogs. I wasn’t the best, but practice makes me better.
What makes showing my own dog so special to me?
Terrie Strom: Showing my own puppy was just fun, but showing a dog that you have bred is the best. Your work as a breeder and handler really shines through when judges reward you. It’s special because you did it yourself! You create that relationship with your dog, and your best bud gets to go home with you.
In my opinion, is there a secret to having a great dog/handler partnership?
Terrie Strom: Keeping it fun and exciting. Great Pyrenees get bored easily and so I struggle with my different Specials. I have to adapt myself to each of their personalities. I am figuring out that I need to take the pressure off myself and my dog. It needs to be fun. We tend to win more if I don’t take it so seriously.
Do I compete in the National Owner-Handled Series? If so, for how many years?
Terrie Strom: Yes, I have competed in the NOHS for the past five years.
What goals did I set for myself and for my dog in 2022? What about 2023?
Terrie Strom: I want to be No. 1 in NOHS and Top 5 for Breed. This is in addition to completing championships on my class dogs. I have been thinking about my goals for next year, which includes HOF for production for my dog, and finishing five dogs and having two litters. This year, my special has exceeded things beyond my wildest dreams. He is only three years old and has achieved so much this year in the show ring and as a stud dog.
Am I going to Orlando? If so, what’s it like to have a top NOHS dog this year?
Terrie Strom: Yes, I am going to Orlando this year. Having a top NOHS dog is a great feeling. The competition is stiff. The quality of dogs and handlers is right up there with the Professional Handlers. As NOHS exhibitors, we have the opportunity to compete in the regular Group rings and NOHS Group rings.
I believe, by AKC adding this to the sport, it has made Owner Handlers become better handlers, and not just give up at the end of the day and decide not to compete with Professional Handlers in the Breed ring. There are a lot of Owner Handlers who are VERY good handlers, and they too are winning Groups and BIS.