I was born on October 10, 1984 in Santa Clara, California. When I arrived home from the hospital, I was met by Brandy, my parents' six year old Irish Setter. After his death at the age of 15, my family moved to Huntsville, Alabama and acquired two AKC registered Irish Setters, Rosey and Savannah. Through the support of family members and the breeders of Rosey and Savannah, I was encouraged to enter Junior Showmanship competition to develop my dog handling and presentation skills. I started my first conformation-handling class in the fall of 1995 and entered my first dog show in March of 1996 at the age of 11 1/2. From the day of that first show I have been hooked and have continued my showing ever since.
I continue to spend my time improving my handling and grooming abilities including expanding to different breeds of purebred dogs. I quickly moved into Open Junior after showing in Novice Junior at only 4 shows. I attended my first George Alston seminar in January of 1997 and was judged best handler in the beginner class. The following year, I was selected fourth in the advanced class. I recently attended the George Alston super advanced seminar in which I learned how to better present the dog's qualities. I participated in Junior Showmanship seminars that were offered at the Irish Setter Nationals at the first national I attended in 1997 until the time that I aged out of juniors. My interests in judging continues to grow so I attended the Irish Setter breed seminars in 1998, 1999 and 2000 which teach current and future judges about the breed. Even though I have attended all of these classes to further my training, I find the best method to improve is to observe and ask questions of well-known and successful handlers and breeders.
I have qualified to show in juniors at the Westminster Kennel Club every year since I began showing dogs. In 1999, I was able to compete at Westminster where I was thrilled to make the first cut in the Junior Showmanship competition. I showed in Junior Showmanship for the last time at Westminster in 2003 after I had turned eighteen in October of 2002. It was an honor and a privilege to participate in such a prestigious show.
Competing in Junior Showmanship has taught me some important life lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. It has helped develop my confidence in tackling challenging situations and pride in what I can accomplish. With my competitive spirit, I continue to believe that it is more important to be a good sport regardless of the outcome. Showing in Junior Showmanship has taught me to set goals and then strive to meet them. To reach those goals there are obstacles that have to be overcome by hard work and determination. I have developed many strong friendships with my junior handler peers, professional handlers, and breeders. Along with showing, I continue to help advise young juniors when they have questions just as I was advised when I began showing in Juniors.
I believe it is important for juniors to have a special bond with the dogs they are showing. They need to work together as a team. Conditioning, training and grooming the dog yourself helps to create a stronger bond with your dog, which will be seen by the judge and everyone outside of the ring.
As a community service activity, I have taken my dogs to the Huntsville V A nursing home and a rehabilitation hospital to help patients with pet therapy. These experiences made me realize how important dogs are in giving happiness to those in these types of environments. I talked to Girl Scouts about the challenges and rewards of competing in Junior Showmanship. I have participated as a Junior Showmanship judge at a match sponsored by the Huntsville Kennel Club.
While still in high school, I worked at a veterinary office for two years. In this job, I provided daily care for boarded and injured animals along with assisting the veterinarians with pet examinations and surgeries. It was an amazing experience and I am now confident more than ever before that being a veterinarian is the correct career path for me. This year I am a junior in college at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. I currently work in the microbiology lab at UAH doing inoculations and preparing cultures that will be used in the microbiology classes. I am a Biology major and Chemistry minor in preparation to go into Veterinary Medicine. Being a veterinarian will allow me to continue my involvement with animals throughout my life. Along with being a veterinarian, I aspire to become an Irish Setter breeder and continue to train, groom and handle my dogs myself as I do now. I hope to play an active role in the Irish Setter and American Kennel Club communities.