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Dedicated to Dogs
by Shannon Wilson

Dog shows have helped me grow as a person and opened me to many life long experiences. Working at shows and the many accomplishments I have had in and out of the ring have helped me realize what I would like my future role in the sport of purebred dogs to be.

My experience began during my early childhood. I stayed at my grandmother's on the weekends while my parents attended dog shows. My grandmother then bred German Shorthaired Pointers for conformation and field work for forty years. I would help my grandmother whelp a litter if a dog went into labor while she was gone. When I was six years old, I showed in my first dog show, and from then on I showed my grandmother's shorthairs whenever I went to a show. At age ten I began working for my parents who have been professional handlers for thirty years and are AKC Registered Handlers. I am now an AKC Registered Handlers Apprentice. I also showed in junior showmanship with my English cocker spaniel "Bounder". It has been nine years now that I have attended shows with my parents. We go to an average of one hundred shows per year. They have taught me how to properly care for the dogs and how to groom many different breeds. I started trimming my English cocker when I was ten years old. With the knowledge I have from grooming English cockers I am now able to trim many other breeds as well.

I also have enjoyed all of the ring experience I have gained from working with my parents. Showing many different breeds throughout the years has helped me to better understand the structure of dogs and the traits that go along with various breeds. I have also learned a great deal of sportsmanship. I have learned that it does not matter if you win or lose but that your dog is presented to the best of your ability and the dog has a good experience every time they step in a ring. I have become much more mature from dog shows because of the responsibility I have been given to take care of other people's dogs. I love being able to meet so many different types of people and traveling. Dog shows have given me more experiences and opportunities then other people my age. After all of the hard work that is put in during the week, the companionship and the accomplishments I have made with the dogs are the most rewarding part.

For the future I would like to be able to become a well thought of breeder of English cocker spaniels. I love the breed and I would like to be able to better it. I have met many breeders and have been able to discuss problems of the breed and what to look for when breeding. To me breeding is not about how many ribbons the dogs win but the health of the dog you breed with keeping the standard in mind. I have seen many breeders become bias, and instead of breeding the healthy lines, they breed to dogs owned by friends or ones that win a lot. I plan to keep an open mind when breeding. I also want to keep my future line small. I feel that more than three litters a year is too much. I would like my dogs shown and presented to the best of their ability so I can make a well thought of name for myself. If I have too many dogs at one time I think it will be harder to accomplish that and give the proper care that the dogs will need. I cannot wait to start to help a breed that I have had a great passion for since I was a child.

Another aspect of the dog show world I would like to be more involved in is junior showmanship. I plan to apply for my junior judging license and would like to help junior handlers grow and develop in this sport as I have.

Dogs will always be a significant part of my life. I am grateful for all the knowledge I have gained from shows so far, and I cannot wait to gain more experience friends, and memories from them. I am dedicated to the dogs and will continue to be throughout my life.