Interview with Owner Handler Jennifer Murphy
1. When were you first introduced to the sport of purebred dogs? To your breed?
Jennifer Murphy: I grew up with Yorkies, but not show quality Yorkies. When I was in 6th grade, I was in 4-H. We had a handler come show us what a show looked like and took us through handling lessons. From there, I always watched Westminster and knew that one day I would be there.
2. How many years in dogs? How many as an Owner Handler?
Jennifer Murphy: It wasn’t until I was 25 that I received my first show dog. So, you can say that I have always owner-handled. It’s been about 15 years now since I started with my first show dog.
3. Do you attend show handling classes? Have you attended any handling seminars?
Jennifer Murphy: Yes. Michelle DeLucia teaches a wonderful class at Carolina Ranch. She has helped me to teach class myself at Fayetteville Kennel Club. I attended one of Greg Strong’s classes and it was very helpful.
4. Have you found virtual learning tools to be helpful? Classes? Videos? Websites? Social Media?
Jennifer Murphy: Yes, watching others via YouTube and Facebook. But “in person” is much better.
5. Do you compete in the National Owner-Handled Series? Are rankings important to you?
Jennifer Murphy: My first year of competition was 2018. Yes, the rankings help me to push myself to do better.
6. In which class(es) are you most likely to enter your dog(s)?
Jennifer Murphy: Bred-By, because I want to show the judge that this is what I’ve bred.
7. Is it a challenge to compete with your breed(s) as an Owner Handler?
Jennifer Murphy: We have come a long way in Owner-Handled where there are a lot of great quality dogs. So, yes, it is very competitive.
8. Are you intimidated by the Professional Handlers? By the Judges?
Jennifer Murphy: No and no.
9. Who have been your mentor(s) as an Owner Handler?
Jennifer Murphy: Michelle Porfido-DeLucia has been my mentor.
10. How important is the Owner Handler to the future of the dog sport?
Jennifer Murphy: The Owner Handler is very important to the sport’s future. At shows, you will have your Professional Handlers, Breeder Handlers, and Owner Handlers—all on the same level field. NOHS gives AKC a chance to recognize all avenues of a show. Having Owner Handlers recognized gives them something to be proud of; NOHS gives them a chance to shine.
11. What are your goals as an Owner Handler? Is there a victory that has eluded you?
Jennifer Murphy: Just to do the best I can so that you can’t tell the difference between an Owner Handler and a Professional Handler. Is there a victory that has eluded me? No, not really.
12. Is there a funny story that you can share about your experiences as an Owner Handler?
Jennifer Murphy: Have you ever concentrated so hard on what your dog is doing that you are not looking where you are going or where the judge is, and so you then run them over? Well, that’s my funniest story ever. I was concentrating on my dog going down and back and didn’t see the judge move. I ran right into her! But instead of me knocking her down, we hugged each other so hard just to stay on our feet. We laughed at this forever, but that taught me to always look at where I am going—and not at my dog.