Interview With Owner Handler Tina Beardsley
How were you first introduced to the sport of purebred dogs? To your breed?
My husband had said that if we were getting a dog, he’d like a Boxer. Doing my research, I knew I would need to find a health-tested Boxer, as they can have many health issues. After following a couple local breeders/handlers, people around the local shows, I decided that showing was something I might be interested in doing. My husband said I needed a hobby, to get me out of the house, so here I am, 11 years later.
How many years in dogs? In your breed?
Tina Beardsley: I have always been a pet dog owner, mixed breeds, mostly the herding varieties. I have been in the Boxer breed for 11 years now.
Do you attend show handling classes? Have you attended in-person handling seminars?
Tina Beardsley: I had attended drop-in classes with the Des Moines Kennel Club, off and on, my first year of learning to handle. But I found, working closely with my breeder(s) who also breeder/owner/handlers, that I was able to pick up the breed-specific nuances of showing the Boxer. I have also been lucky; other Boxer handlers have asked me to step in on a class dog for Winners, so I have had opportunities to work with multiple dogs with their personalities and quirks.
Have you found virtual learning tools to be helpful? Videos? Websites? Social Media? AKC Canine College?
Tina Beardsley: I have watched live feeds from around the country, and reviewed videos that others have taken of my efforts and tried to hone in on things that needed more polish. I haven’t had the opportunity to do much else; full-time job, raising my kids, and showing my dogs!
Do you compete in the National Owner-Handled Series? Are rankings important to you?
Tina Beardsley: YES, on both counts. When it was first made available, I was very new to showing. And while I didn’t truly try to campaign a dog at that time, it was something that I wanted to do in the future. Now I have a Boxer, GCH FarMore’s Justifiable BCAT, we call him “HB,” who I am actively working on and we’ve traveled a bit more with his co-owner/breeder, pushing to maintain/improve our standings. This year, I set my goals to get invited to the National Championship in Florida.
In which class(es) are you most likely to enter your dog(s)?
Tina Beardsley: I have a bitch that I show in Open Brindle, but in reality, the best class to be in, to be considered competitive, is the Best of Breed class.
Who have been your mentor(s) as an Owner Handler?
Tina Beardsley: Fellow competitors and breeders are who have influenced and mentored me; Cheryl Cates (Encore Boxers) and Amber Gates (FarMore Boxers). Honestly, I learn so much from watching all of the other professional handlers, and yes, even the other owner handlers in my breed.
I have always been a pet dog owner, mixed breeds, mostly the herding varieties. I have been in the Boxer breed for 11 years now.
What are the benefits of competing with your breed(s) as an Owner Handler?
Tina Beardsley: It has taught me that in a handler-dominated breed like the Boxer, owner handlers—with good dogs—can be VERY competitive. Yes, we have been defeated by dogs that I didn’t feel should have beaten us, but it just makes me work that much harder, not only in my handling but in my understanding of the Breed Standard.
How are you encouraging new exhibitors to participate in the sport?
Tina Beardsley: I probably need to do better at this. When asked at shows, I try to be open and welcoming, explaining about the breed and the sport—and the owner handler.
Are there any suggestions you’d like to pass along about the presentation of your breed(s).
Tina Beardsley: Every time I walk in the ring, I want to win. But even when I don’t, I want to be sure to exhibit good sportsmanship to others. I always strive for more ring time, which makes us better as a team. Don’t give up. Take videos of yourself and your dog competing. Be open to ideas on how to do something differently. When someone is offering you suggestions, don’t put up excuses on why this or that…
Some things I have learned: The collar is for the dog; not MY preference but for the dog’s comfort and training level. Don’t use a chain collar just because everyone else in your breed does. Show leads don’t have to be expensive or flashy. I show on a plain black, thin English leather lead, like reins for a horse. This sport can be expensive if you “keep up with the Jones’.” Stay focused on your goals and move the goal post as you need to. Be open to trying something different, to get even more out of your dog.
It has taught me that in a handler-dominated breed like the Boxer, owner handlers—with good dogs—can be VERY competitive. Yes, we have been defeated by dogs that I didn’t feel should have beaten us, but it just makes me work that much harder, not only in my handling but in my understanding of the Breed Standard.
What are your goals as an Owner Handler? Is there a victory that has eluded you?
Tina Beardsley: I don’t have a particular victory that has eluded me. I hope to take my current OH dog, HB, to our National as a competitive Top 20 dog and compete there for the Best of Breed NOHS.
Is there a funny story that you can share about your experiences as a Breeder/Owner Handler?
Tina Beardsley: Two years ago, as an Owner Handler, I was asked to take a six-month-old puppy back in for Winners Dog. I had no expectations other than ensuring the puppy continued to have a good experience at his first set of shows. To my surprise, we got pulled out against a top professional breeder/handler to free-bait our dogs for the Winners ribbon. I tried for a minute or two to get the puppy to focus and stay stacked, but he was distracted and fidgety.
I looked over to my mentor/co-owner and she said, “Show him the bait!” I quietly mouthed, “I don’t have any!” So, she threw me a piece of bait, but at that point, the judge had given us every opportunity to “show” and she’d picked the other dog. So, we got Reserve to the major at a Specialty. This puppy grew into the dog I am showing today in NOHS. I learned a valuable lesson that day to never walk into the ring without bait—and backup bait!