By: Adam King
It is hard to believe that I have been involved in the world of
purebred dogs for three and a half years. It feels as if this has
always been a huge part of my life, and it really is hard to remember
what my life was like before I spent most of my weekends at the shows.
I have tried to immerse myself in the sport completely, and have truly
enjoyed my time. I am a breeder-owner-handler, I have handled dogs
for other people, attended many seminars, and have been able to judge
at several AKC sanctioned matches.
Before I ever actually became involved in dog shows personally, I
was able to convince my parents to take me to different dog shows
around the Midwest to experience what it was like, and to observe
all of the handlers and breeds. It was at these shows where I first
developed a love for Havanese, and decided that was the breed for
me. I talked to many owner handlers, and developed many friendships
even before I got my first Havanese.
Little did I know four years ago this December the tiny crate I picked
up at the airport in Louisville, Kentucky would change my life forever.
The bouncing ball of Havanese fluff that bounded out of the kennel
would become my very first champion of record, in less than six months
of showing him. As a complete novice, I put his very first point on
him at his very first show, which really fueled my desire to continue
showing dogs. The show bug quickly caught on with my whole family,
and we added a bitch from the same breeder to our household.
Because my girl finished her championship at under a year of age,
I needed to find some way to remain active in showing. This is when
I turned to showing in Junior Showmanship. For some reason when I
first started showing at AKC shows the idea of Junior Showmanship
didn’t appeal to me. However, since neither of my Havanese were
specials material, I needed to find some aspect of the sport that
would allow me to continue to be involved. Tara Martin, a former Junior
Handler, encouraged me to try my hand at Juniors. Luckily I took her
advice to heart, as I was able to have a couple of successful months
that ended with trips to both the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship
show and the Westminster Kennel Club show.
During this time I was offered the chance to co-own and handler another
Havanese, Ch. Starkette pride of Wincroft ROMX. Showing “Buster”
has become a big part of my life, having shown him at the 2004 Havanese
National Specialty, AKC/Eukanuba National Championship show, and the
Westminster Kennel Club show. We received Award of Merits at both
the National and the Classic, which qualified us for Crufts. It is
thrilling to be able to say that in March of 2005, “Buster”
and I will be traveling over to Birmingham to compete as the first
American Havanese to be represented over there. During his career
I have been able to keep him ranked as number 2 all-breed in 2002,
and number 9 in 2003, and number 15 in 2004. He is now in semi-retirement
except for special occasions.
The year 2004 fulfilled my biggest dreams in dogs. A bitch that I
bred from my very first litter finished her championship from the
Bred-by exhibitor class with a supported entry win. I can honestly
say that win was the single most memorable part of my life. She finished
in very short order with all majors, which made me immensely proud.
Her littermate brother finished with WD/BOW/Best Puppy at the Regional
Specialty, giving me two champions from my first litter. Several puppies
from my second litter should be finishing early in 2005, so it will
be exciting to follow their progress.
I have also had the pleasure of showing several friends’ dogs,
something that I really enjoy doing. Learning aspects and the differences
in presentations of the breeds is a facet of dog shows I love. I try
to make time at each show to observe as many breeds and handlers as
I can, try to gain tips and tricks in handling and grooming. Wandering
through the grooming area is also wonderful, as that is the area where
the most can be learned.
Though I planned to apply for my judge’s license this past year,
I decided to postpone it for a little while. I am still very active
near the juniors ring in my area, and have many friends who still
are active. I believe it would be a conflict of interest to begin
my career right now, so I’ve decided to wait until some age
out. I do plan to apply within the next two years, as I think that
there is a need for more judges who really want to judge Junior Showmanship.
I also plan to apply for Havanese when I become eligible, as I firmly
believe that is the greatest way to give back to the sport that has
given me so much. I also have applied for the AKC Summer Internship
Program, and very much hoping to get a spot. The prospect of spending
my summer with the AKC is very exciting to me.
I am now entering my Junior year at Purdue University as an Animal
Science major with a Pre-Vet focus. I am a semester ahead as I got
college credit through several classes I took in High School. I was
lucky enough to be chosen to participate in the Vet Scholars program,
which guarantees me a spot in the Vet school at Purdue once I complete
my undergraduate work. I would eventually like to specialize in reproduction,
as I believe that area is of vital importance to the future of our
sport. I have been lucky enough to receive scholarships from the AKC
for the past two years, which really helps to offset the cost of college.
With education costs rising, it is encouraging to know that the AKC
strongly supports Junior handlers in this aspect of their lives.