The Influence of Purebred Dogs in My Life and My Future
Since I was a very young child, purebred dogs have had a major impact on my life. When I was only five years old, my mind was already set on becoming a veterinarian when I grew up. That same dream remains today. My family has always owned purebred dogs – Goldens, Westies, and Portuguese Water Dogs.
At age twelve, my grandmother, who is a Portuguese Water Dog breeder, presented me with my very own puppy. His name was Bayou, and he was a beautiful black wavy bundle of love. One thing led to another, and by the time Bayou was five months old, we had entered the wonderful world of dog showing. We began handling classes under American Kennel Club judge Miss MaryAnn Schwartz. Bayou and I were devoted to each other, and we practied regularly. We entered as many shows as possible along the Mid-Gulf coast area. The competition was always fierce, but we craved show ring experience. I met so many dog loving people along the way, but there were a few very special professional handlers who look me under their wings and guided and mentored me.
In October 1 999, eleven month old Bayou and I attended our first Portuguese Water Dog National Specialty held in Delavan, Wisconsin. This was like no other show Bayou and I had ever attended. There were hundreds of beautiful Portuguese, curlies and wavies, blacks and browns, Irish and parties. The experience was overwhelming, We were competing against the best PWDs in the country, as well as some of the top handlers. Pre-ring jitters were indescribable, but Bayou's self-confidence was infectious. Soon the jitters melted away. Bayou was allowed to take the lead and do what he did best. During that unforgettable week in October, Bayou was awarded "Best Puppy in Sweepstakes" and "Reserve Winners Dog." What a team we were and what a future we had ahead of us! I went on to handle Bayou to his championship, and he now sports the title of "Ch. Bellaluna Bayou Ruegarue.”
In subsequent conformation arenas, we went on to win several group placements in the working group. In October 2001, with high hopes of success, we headed to our second National Specialty in Warrick, Rhode Island. These hopes for success were most definitely achieved. We won a Judge's Award of Merit and won first in our Open Senior Handling Class. Just as I was being presented with the pink rosette for winning the open senior class, Bayou had the misfortune of stepping on a bee in the grass. Due to the painful sting, Bayou and I were unable to perform in the Best Junior Handling competition. I was terribly disappointed that day in Rhode Island, but had confidence that Bayou and I would go on to have even better days in the ring together.
Over the next few years, we earned several awards for junior handling. We were even fortunate enough to compete in Best of Breed at Westminster in 2001. Bayou became the number six PWD stud dog in the nation and sired our second PWD, Allie, After training Allie as I had trained Bayou, I was ready to start all over again. I attended my third and Allie attended her first PWD National Specialty in Memphis, Tennessee, in October 2003. Even though we knew there were big shoes/paws to fill. Allie and I remained confident as we walked into the Sweepstakes ring. We gave it our all and walked out of the ring with the "Best Puppy in Sweepstakes" rosette and nearly $400 just as Allie's father and I had done four years earlier. Not long thereafter. Allie became known as "Ch. Afortunado Alligator Leg O Sea."
I continue to compete in conformation, assisting my grandmother with her dogs, as well as handling for others. Although I have been active in Water Work, Obedience, and Canine Good Citizen, my love is in the conformation ring. Maintaining my 4.0 GPA, sports commitments, and club involvement has been a juggling act; however, time is not a factor when it comes to my dog activities.
My interest in the pure bred dog has even filtered into my academic
world. After being
I am now a graduating senior and ready to embark on my college career. The experience and confidence that I have learned in my youth will propel me along with the career path that I have chosen, to be a veterinarian. Participating in the many American Kennel Club activities, interacting with professionals in the field that I adore, and the dedication and love for Bayou and Allie has only fueled my desires to become a veterinarian. The sport of purebred dogs has had an amazing impact on my life. I look forward to entering Louisiana State University in the fall of 2005 and bringing with me all that I have learned. I can only hope to give back to the youth of tomorrow what was so graciously given to me, the love of the sport of purebred dogs.