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A Love for Vizslas
By Emily Meyer

My experience with purebred dogs began when I was 14 years old. On October 3, 1999, a bouncy Vizsla puppy named Ruger came to live with my family and me. Finally, I was no longer a spectator in the world of dogs, but reaching this point was the result of a long journey: from deciding on the perfect breed to finding a caring, committed breeder to puppy kindergarten and beyond. As I anxiously awaited our new family member, I devoured Vizsla books and dog web sites. My studies covered everything from food to flea treatment to correct Vizsla structure to obedience. I am fascinated by the bloodlines and genetics of the breed, so I also formulated a pedigree tracing Ruger's family back sixteen generations to Hungary, where the breed originated.

Although I was completely new to owning a dog and competing with him, that didn't stop me from jumping right in. Ruger and I had fun dabbling in all sorts of dog activities: conformation and junior showmanship, hunt tests, Canine Good Citizen, and therapy dog training to name a few. I would encourage all juniors to try more than one venue of competition or training with their dogs. Most adults are very receptive and helpful to juniors who are new to a certain area, so don't limit yourself to just one thing. This is the perfect time to see what you and your dog enjoy.

Now that I am in college, I participate in the fancy in different ways. I'm helping my younger sister with showing Ruger in junior showmanship, and last fall I attended my first Vizsla Club of America Nationals Event. This was one of the most thrilling purebred dog experiences I have ever had. Just seeing a Vizsla out in public on any given day is exciting, but to see hundreds of them all in one place is amazing. My sister and I sat on the ground ringside watching the dogs and handling techniques, picking the ones we thought would win, studying and marking our catalogue, and generally loving every minute of it. In addition to seeing all of the current top dogs, we also saw, heard, and met some of the people who owned their predecessors--people whose kennel names show up in American Vizsla pedigrees ten or more generations back and who were essential to developing the breed when it reached the United States. I cannot wait to attend another nationals event.

In the future, I hope to attend vet school and begin what I think of as a purebred dog lover's dream job: a career in veterinary medicine. I hope to make a difference to purebred dogs through communication with owners about their dogs' health, responsible dog ownership, and buying from reputable breeders. Eventually, I hope to have enough experience and knowledge of the Vizsla breed to begin my own bloodline of dogs proven and owner-handled in the ring and in the field.