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Jazzy and Wink
By Katherine Peed

I can still remember the first time I saw Jazzy. It was a humid September day in Longview, Washington and she was enjoying the shade provided by a rickety pop-up' along with her litter mates. She was the only red-merle and in my childish mind, that meant she must be special. Within five minutes, my infatuation with Jazzy's color had blossomed into an all out love affair between an awkward 12-year-old girl and a wiggly red-merle Australian Shepherd puppy. The deal was sealed, and I will always look back on that humid September day as a day that literally changed my life.

Jazzy was exactly what I needed. I was timid and shy, and although Jazzy was also timid and shy, she showed me that together we could face anything. Jazzy and I had our fair share of accomplishments through out the years including two championships and two CDs, however the true accomplishment that I obtained with Jazzy was confidence. With reassurance I felt from Jazzy's gentle presence, I was able to face my fears and insecurities. Without Jazzy I never would have been able to take the next steps in my dog showing experiences.

As humbly has Jazzy entered my life, Wink entered with ten-fold the grandness. Wink was my southern gentleman all the way from Virginia: my night in shinning armor who took my breath away. When I stepped into the ring with Wink I quickly learned that beauty is not everything. You will always have to work for what's important to you in life. Jazzy taught me how to do that work, while Wink taught me how to have fun doing it, and have fun we did. When I finished Wink in the highly competitive Golden ring, I was flooded with emotions. With those emotions came a realization that the championship was not the reason for the pride I felt in that moment. The reason I felt so much joy was because of the journey that Wink and I had taken in order to get to that point. I realized that Wink, and Jazzy too, had been a guiding light throughout my childhood.

As I look at Jazzy and Wink today, I see their gray hairs and I think of the journey they have trodden with me. The highs and the lows, the ups and the downs, they have been there through all of it with abiding love. If there is one thing that I have to say about my experience with junior showmanship, it would be that it taught me about life. It taught me that the relationships you form in life are what make the journey worth while. So as I take my first steps on a new journey in my life, I know that the lessons that I have learned from my involvement with purebred dogs will be applicable to all aspects ofmy life. As a result, purebred dogs, especially Wink and Jazzy, will never be a part of my past. They will be a part of my past, present and future.

Author is a 2007 AKC Junior Showmanship Scholarship recipient.