As a third generation dog fancier, the sport of purebred dogs has very positively impacted my life. For the past eight years I have attended dog shows almost every weekend throughout the year, competing in various parts of the country. My travels have presented me with a great educational experience that not all people are able to endure. When possible, I always take the time to visit historic landmarks that are linked to my past and help me to better understand the world that I live in. This is especially helpful to me in history class because I quite often can say that I have seen many of the places that I learn about in school. Dog shows have also had a positive impact on my schoolwork academically. After so many years I have become very competitive, striving to be only perfect and therefore never settling for less then my best. I always want to improve upon my mistakes and learn what I can to do better the next time to make me even more successful. The competitiveness of winning has had a very positive effect on my schoolwork. For example, if someone receives a better grade then I do, I work harder the next time to enable me to receive the highest grade. If I get some kind of a question wrong on a test, I analyze why it was incorrect and decide what I can do the next time to make it better. If not for dog shows I might not obsess so much about being the best all the time, but I like to take my lessons and learn from them so I don’t make that same mistake again in the future.
My experiences and interactions in junior showmanship competition have had a distinct impact on life. My first year competing at the age of 10 I was ranked the number one terrier junior handler. Each year since then I have continued to climb in the ratings all the way to being the number two junior in the country last year. Obviously it has taken many shows and competition for me to achieve such an award. I have experienced many people going out of their way to hinder my successes, not because I am not deserving of them, but more because of the fact I am successful. Instead of making me angry like it would others, I have learned to be flattered by it. If that is what someone needs to do to win, then so be it, because I will always know that I am deserving of all of my wins. One of my greatest achievements occurred in 2003, when out of I 188 other juniors I was chosen to be one of the eight junior finalists at the Westminster Kennel Club, only at the age of l5. As a member of the future of the sport being recognized with such an accolade is proof that my future in the sport of purebred dogs holds great optimism. Quite often I am asked to exhibit various other breeds for professional handlers, I know that if they were not confident that I would make their dog look good then they would not ask at all. From time to time judges tell me that I am better than some of the handlers and I should give them some handling tips.
I take great pride in showing my dogs I have learned that if you do not believe in the dog itself then there is no use in showing at all. For the past six years my mother and I have owned and exhibited a top ten Pembroke Welsh Corgi. We believed that the dogs were worthy of winning, but their rank is just frosting on the cake to the prevalence of our hard efforts. For only being 17 years old, the great thing is that I am also able to compete in breed competition and be just as successful as I am in junior showmanship I have finished ten champions, won multiple group ones and placements and a best in show. It is very important to show a dog that is a true representative of the breed.
Great responsibility comes with having dogs. It is my responsibility to properly care for them — proper exercise, diet and grooming. If I wish to have dogs then it is my responsibility to make sure they are in their best condition. I run the dogs on the beach each night and walk them for about a mile each day as a part of their conditioning, while balancing a rigorous course load in school, including three advanced placement classes and numerous after school activities, such as National Honors Society, editor of the school newspaper, student council, French club and peer leaders. My anticipation of traveling to shows on weekends is what keeps me inspired throughout the week.
Most importantly dog shows have taught me lessons of good sportsmanship. If one is going to continue to go to shows every weekend and exhibit against one another it is essential that everyone must get along. It makes one’s ring experience much more positive win or loose, one wants to build up the reputation of being a good sport rather than a sore loser.
As I prepare to go away to college next year, I know one of the hardest parts will be leaving my dogs. Throughout the years we have developed an inseparable bond that shows inside the ring and out. I will very much miss the shows, and friends but most of all I will miss the extra time spent with the dogs, because although we all love to win, the time that I am able to spend with the dogs is much more sacred to me then anything. As the saying goes, “do what you love, love what you do.”
The sport of purebred dogs has enabled me to take great passion into everything that I do, and will carry me through in life with an extraordinary education and successful job. I plan to major in communications/English and have a desire to incorporate some aspect of the dog sport into my profession, if it were writing articles or public relations. As important as all of my fantastic wins are, my education is much more important to me. I will always have dog shows to fall back on and will continue to compete, but not as a professional. I see myself in the future as a successful breeder, owner, handler of Pembroke Welsh Corgis and Smooth Fox Terriers. The greatest satisfaction of all comes from being able to show a dog that you bred yourself and be recognized for you successful breeding and efforts to produce the best of the best. One can campaign a dog and do tons of winning with it, but if doesn’t produce then what is there to follow up in their footsteps?
I have so much to be thankful for, but from time to time I overlook my accomplishments and get greedy. The best lesson that dog shows have helped me to learn is that if something doesn’t go your way, don’t give up, remember all of your great wins and successes, and remember that some people are not lucky enough to be able to compete in such a great sport to learn such fantastic lessons that are carried through in every aspect of life. I look forward to continue my learning experiences as I pursue a further interest in the sport of purebred dogs.