I was not introduced to the dog show world until I was about 10 years old. Before that, my idea of a dog show was our local pet contests, where our dogs would win things like cutest mutt or largest dog. It was not until my mom began competing in obedience competitions with our Golden Retriever that I was exposed to my first dog show. Although all aspects of dog shows interested me, I was especially interested in the conformation and junior showmanship rings. After watching several shows, I realized that this was something I wanted to try, and soon after I began showing my Labrador puppy Molly in obedience, conformation, and junior showmanship. Being a novice myself and working with a puppy, I quickly learned just how much patience and hard work this was going to take.
Looking back, I greatly appreciate all the people that helped me and showed me "tips" for the ring. There were many times that I felt very intimidated being in a conformation ring where I was often the only kid, but I think that junior showmanship gave me the ability and confidence to compete against the adults. After a lot of hard work, I began winning in the junior ring and was also successful in the obedience ring.
Early on in my showing experiences I was also introduced to the world of hunt tests. It is different from the juniors ring because there are not many kids, so you must gain the respect of the adults that compete there. Of course, my dogs absolutely loved doing this, and I found it very interesting to be able to see the dogs doing what they were bred to do.
Now that I have aged out of juniors, I can look back with many great memories. Although there were many times that I left the ring empty-handed, I think that it only motivated me more for the next time. Because of dog shows I was able to travel to many different parts of the country that I would have never otherwise seen. I was also able to compete at Westminster, which will always be a very memorable accomplishment to me.
In December of 2003, I graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor's degree in biology. Currently I am working as a veterinary technician at a local animal hospital. I have worked there for over 6 years, and one aspect that I love about my job is being able to educate people about their dogs. I am also preparing to move to Colorado where I will be attending veterinary school at Colorado State University this fall. Becoming a veterinarian has been a lifelong goal that I hope I will soon be able to fulfill. I look forward to being able to focus more on the breeding aspect of shows once I am a veterinarian. I want to be able to apply my education to the breed, in hopes of one-day eliminating some of the problems that specifically larger dog breeds face.
Although right now school takes up most of my time, dog shows are still very important to me. I recently received my provisional license to judge juniors and was able to judge for the first time in April at a Labrador retriever specialty show. I have also spent time working with my 8 year old Golden Retriever William as a certified therapy dog. He and I have frequently visited a local heart hospital where the patients are able to interact with William.
I not only learned a lot from junior showmanship, but also from the obedience ring and from participating in hunt tests. Even though there were many times where I struggled because I may not have had the lifetime experiences of growing up in the dog show world like many of the other kids, I think the fact that I had to learn through trial and error made me appreciate everything more. I know that this sport will always play a part in my life, and I look forward to being able to contribute back to it.