Toy Talk | Looking Back, but Loving 2021!

Loving 2021

Looking Back, but Loving 2021! Your first show dog was probably not one you would show today, but you learned from that experience with excitement, frustration, sometimes anger, and on occasion, the big thrill of victory. Was that first win one of the most exciting things that ever happened to you? A professional handler might have made that first successful win for you as you watched from ringside or sat at home by the phone waiting for results; waiting by your home phone, long before cell phones and the Internet for many dog show people, exhibitors, and advertisers—even judges! After a couple years of winning came the desire to breed your, hopefully, new champion and the search was on to locate the perfect choice for breeding. Maybe you had a mentor who helped you make good decisions, but by now you were hooked on our wonderful sport.

While cleaning out excess papers, I could not help but start leafing through old issues of Top Notch Toys. After all, this magazine has been in print for 34 years; ever since Joe McGinnis and Duane Doll saw the need for a way to promote the Pekingese and the Toy dogs they always loved, bred, and handled! It was hard to put TNT down once I’d started down memory lane. Most of us started with a house pet we loved and, for some reason, became interested in dog shows and showing dogs—and the rest is history. Do you remember the reason?

At the time, I never thought it was dog show history in the making, but you believed you could breed and show your own dogs. Wow, what a feeling that was! So, off to conformation classes and puppy matches, which were plentiful at the time and where many exhibitors and judges learned the finer points of not only the breed, but also helping you be up for the challenge; off to an AKC show with excitement and a burning desire to be successful. Where did you win your first points and under whom? I’d love to know! Many of you advertised for the first time in TNT with those never-to-be-forgotten first Owner-Handled wins. Many Professional Handlers in the making came from that early success.

Those of you who are still around have progressed from breeding and exhibiting to judging; first Specialties and then acquiring Groups, starting with Group 5 and then on to greater success as a multiple Group judge. Ah, those memories along the way, as well as the tears, but look at all of us who are still doing what we know best; we always find something exciting about it.

This saying hangs in my office along with framed copies of of many front and back covers of TNT and a few of my old champions and my personal ads: “Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but the moments that take our breath away.” I know you have had lots of them!

Those of you who have fabulous memories, write your stories and email them to me. Remember, inquiring minds want to know what is going on in your dog show world.

Watch for new and important Toy dogs in TNT—and how about being one of them? Have a winning, safe, and wonderful summer after the Year of the Pandemic. Warm wishes for continued success. 



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  • For 10 years, Bonnie Guggenheim has been the force behind Top Notch Toys. Her introduction and commitment to the Toy Group and Breeds began in 1969 when she met Shih Tzu Breeder Jay Ammon. Bonnie has always had a special love for Shih Tzus which she bred herself until 1985 breeding many Champions and Specialty Winners. The enthusiastic support from her National Breed Club members as a 4-time chosen Specialty Judge, encouraged her to pursue becoming an AKC Judge for additional Toy Breeds. She also bred and showed Japanese Chins, falling in love with their flat faces. She was also Vice President of the American Shih Tzu Club, and an active member of the Western Reserve KC, Medina KC, and the Lakeland KC. Bonnie always volunteered to help her clubs including being Show Chair for several of them over the years. In 2011, Duane Doll & Joe McGinnis asked Ms. Guggenheim to head up Top Notch Toys and decided to place her judges license on emeritus status so that she could pursue her true passion of helping the fancy, the breeds, and educating the community.

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