Walnut Ridge Mountain Curs | Mandy Middleton insights on her journey in our community and sport.
1. When were you first introduced to the sport of purebred dogs? To your breed?
I got my first competition dog in 2011. He was a rescue from the pound, and I didn’t find out his breed until later on. I bought my first registered Mountain Curs in early 2015.
2. How many years in dogs? How many as an Owner Handler? As a Breeder?
I have been around various dogs all my life, but my first working dog didn’t come until 2011. I have been an Owner Handler ever since. I have been a breeder since 2016 when I bred my first Mountain Cur litter.
3. Do you attend show handling classes? Have you attended any handling seminars?
I attended our local dog club’s Conformation classes and learned most of what I know through trial and error while exhibiting. Prior to that, I had been taking Obedience and Rally classes with my rescue.
4. Have you found virtual learning tools to be helpful? Classes? Videos? Websites? Social Media?
I have found some good videos on YouTube as well as some of the Facebook groups, but I personally learn best from hands-on.
5. Do you compete in the National Owner-Handled Series? Are rankings important to you?
I cannot compete yet, as my breed is only in the FSS category. I would like to see a rankings system for the Miscellaneous and FSS breeds. It feels like we’re always getting the short end of the stick when it comes to information and the rankings.
6. How important is the Bred-By Class to you? How important are specialties?
I enjoy BBX classes as I get to show off my hard work. We are in the process of moving to Miscellaneous so that we can hold specialties.
7. Is it a challenge to compete with your breed(s) as a Breeder/Owner Handler?
Rare breeds do present a problem when trying to find competition. As of the last few years, I have been the only one showing Mountain Curs.
8. Are you intimidated by the Professional Handlers? By the Judges?
I cannot fully answer this, as professional handlers are not allowed in FSS shows. I have found that for the most part, judges have been genuinely interested in learning about my breed and have been helpful when I was starting out.
9. Who have been your mentor(s) as an Owner Handler? As a Breeder?
Unfortunately, I have been, basically, single-handedly doing everything with AKC regarding my breed. I hope to earn the Breeder of Merit once our parent club is established.
10. How important is the Breeder/Owner Handler to the future of the dog sport?
I think this is very important, especially for people who can’t afford to hire a handler, or those who just prefer to handle their own dogs. (Dog sports are supposed to be fun.)
11. What are your goals as an Owner Handler? As a Breeder? Is there a milestone that has eluded you?
Having achieved numerous titles (many are the first for the breed), multiple Bests in Show, and a CM with my breed, I have been making super progress. I would love to go to a large show like Westminster one day, but there are not many events with the FSS classes.
12. Is there a funny story that you can share about your experiences as a Breeder/Owner Handler?
I don’t have a funny story, but I have noticed that my dogs are making a difference in public recognition. Now, people at shows actually know what breed my dogs are. When I first got into them, no one knew what a Mountain Cur was.