|It's About the Dog
By Raquel Hipskind
Even though I have just started dog showing last year I have come a long way with learning to handle and show dogs. When I watched televised dog shows I always thought it was so easy anyone could to it. Then once I started going to classes and actually handling my dog in the ring I realized the seasoned handlers only make it look easy because they have so much experience. I got my first major win in February at Westworld which is the largest show in Arizona…it took my breath away. I was so shocked I almost walked out of the ring—the other handlers had to pull me back in. Dog showing has taught me that the dogs are just as important as the people and the team needs to compete well – not just be the best dressed. There are the days when you walk into the ring you just can feel the dogs prance and that the dog is ready to go and have fun. Also, no matter what size your dog is compared to its class, you can still do very well. At another show I was competing against more experienced handlers than me (which is just about everyone) and I was very surprised when my dog won over the other experienced handlers and seasoned dogs — every one keeps reinforcing for me “that it’s about the dog.” We don’t always win, but showing is like an addiction once I got started showing, well, I never want to stop.
Dog showing has helped me with concentration and to become more persistent in pursuing my goals and helping me to decide what I wanted to do with my life. In the short term, I want to start working with my dogs on obtaining their AKC CGC certifications. From there we may take up obedience or earth dog competitions…time permitting. For the upcoming school year I am looking into a volunteer activity like dog therapy where my companion and I can work together to fulfill the service learning designation for my associate’s degree. Dog showing has helped me find myself, to believe I can grow up to be me, that my opportunities are diverse and limited only by the choices I make and the directions I choose. When I step into the ring I am happy whether I win or lose because every time anyone walks in the ring, just by being there, they are a winner!