1. When were you first introduced to the sport of purebred dogs? To your breed?
I was first introduced to the sport of purebred dogs when I was nine years old, when one of my teachers invited me to attend a puppy match. This turned out to be a Yankee Golden Retriever match, held in Rachel Paige Elliott’s backyard. In 2007, I became involved with Cavaliers.
2. How many years in dogs? How many as an owner handler? As a breeder?
I’ve been involved for 45 years as a breeder/owner handler in dogs.
3. Do you attend show handling classes? Have you attended any handling seminars?
I have always attended show handling classes and handling seminars. I also have been teaching conformation classes and hosting seminars for more than 15 years.
4. Have you found virtual learning tools to be helpful? Classes? Videos? Websites? Social Media?
I believe that virtual tools have become invaluable to all dog enthusiasts. I have written extensively about the role, value, and implication of the virtual-distributed collective learning community in my Doctoral dissertation.
5. Do you compete in the National Owner handled Series? Are rankings important to you?
I do not compete in the National Owner handled Series. I do enjoy following the rankings and supporting fellow exhibitors who do compete with their dogs.
6. How important is the Bred-By Class to you? How important are specialties?
The Bred-By Class and specialties are very important to me. I enjoy showcasing my “work” through my exhibits as a breeder in the designated class. Specialties provide an excellent opportunity to see larger entries of my breed. This allows me to assess my satisfaction with my current dogs and frequently inspires possible future breeding plans.
7. Is it a challenge to compete with your breed(s) as a breeder/owner handler?
Challenges come with showing dogs whether someone is a breeder/owner or a compensated handler. Rising to the challenge requires grit and courage.
8. Are you intimidated by the professional handlers? By the judges?
I am not intimidated by the professional handers or the judges. Actually, just the opposite. Over the years, I have found many paid handlers and judges to be excellent people who are the first to share their knowledge and time, or to provide help and support.
9. Who have been your mentor(s) as an owner handler? As a breeder?
The person who first introduced me to the sport of purebred dogs taught me a great deal about breeding and exhibition. One of the most important lessons, aside from the proper handling of a pooper scooper, was to never stop learning. Over the years, I have gathered pearls from so many great people in the dog community that I would truly credit the generosity of the “sport” of dogs for long-standing and continued mentorship.
10. How important is the breeder/owner handler to the future of the dog sport?
The breeder/owner handler is important to the future of the dog sport. The breeder makes the dogs that preserve the pure breeds. The breeder assesses their stock by exhibiting their dogs. The breeder may provide a pup to novice exhibitors with an interest in showing dogs. Many breeders eventually become judges who evaluate exhibits. The best example of the value of the breeder/owner handler comes from my own experience; 45 years ago, a breeder/owner handler invited a 9-year-old kid to attend a match because she wanted someone to help walk her puppies in a circle. That kid was me.
11. What are your goals as an owner handler? As a breeder? Is there a milestone that has eluded you?
I have a running list of “goals” as a breeder and owner handler that are listed on a sheet of paper tacked to my vision board. I keep the goals realistic, and my accomplished goals have always been replaced with more lofty aspirations. As a kid, I wanted to win my class. Then to win a point. Then I wanted to finish a dog myself. Then breed a champion. Then win a specialty. You get the idea. The list continues…
12. Is there a funny story that you can share about your experiences as a breeder/owner handler?I have a rich sense of humor, so I have a treasure trove of funny stories about my life with dogs. The next time you see me, ask me about Pine Mountain. 😉