|A Boy and His Dogs
By Evan Muller
My life with dogs started the same as it has for many other young boys, with the family dog; a companion and friend to greet you when you get up in the morning and to curl up beside you when bedtime comes. I have been blessed with four awesome canine friends from three different AKC breeds.
As a toddler, I was protected by my parents “first child” … a blue merle Australian Shepherd named Kelli. While my memories of her are few, I remember her big soft coat and am told that she took good care of her flock, both equine and human. She was a member of our family for 15 years.
In 1992 my parents decided that they would try a smaller, non-shedding breed and Mitzi, a Miniature Schnauzer, came into our family. She was a lap warmer deluxe though she thought of herself as a barn dog. Mitzi went with us to many horse trials including The Rolex Kentucky Three-day Event. There she walked the cross-country course and sat on my mom’s lap in the bleachers for three hours during show jumping, never making a sound.
Then along came my special friend, my partner at home and in the show ring, my black-tri sheltie – Bach Miss Celestial Being OA AXJ (call name Chelsie). My sister Megan and I begged for a dog after the sudden loss of our Schnauzer. After much thought, our parents decided to combine the best of the Aussie and the Schnauzer and ended up with a Shetland Sheepdog; small enough to fit in the backseat with two kids yet smart and athletic with herding dog traits … and yes, the big soft haircoat! That was 1999.
In 2000 I was old enough to join 4-H and since I was not into the horses like Megan, it was suggested that I take Chelsie as a 4-H dog project. Well, that was the start of something big. To my good fortune I had great advisors, and the luck to be in a club with Mary Lynn and Joey Butcher. Mary Lynn, an AKC Junior Showmanship Scholarship winner herself, and her brother showed Belgian Sheepdogs in AKC shows and took me under their wing. They, along with their mother, Judy, encouraged me to do things in a professional manner contributing to my success. My 4-H advisors, Lisa and Morgan Stanley, Elaine Walker and Lori Zakel-Knowles, along with Trish Clute from Gem City Dog Obedience Club, built on the foundation that the Butchers began and have made me the showman I am today.
Chelsie is a talented individual. She has been with me my entire 4-H career as well as my involvement in the AKC Junior Handler Program. I owe so much to her. She is an amazing dog. She commands respect from other dogs and with just one look lets them know when they are out of line. As a Showmanship dog she is top notch. Chelsie executes patterns with straight lines and flawless hand switches, and stops in a square stack. Her performance helps make us a hard team to beat. In our only AKC Junior Showmanship class, we placed 1st and were Best Junior Handler. In 4-H, Chelsie was on the end of my lead when I won the 2007 Ohio State Fair Senior B Showmanship Championship … and God willing, she will be alongside me in my last 4-H class at the 2009 Ohio State Fair. She and I have received six Ohio 4-H State Dog Championships and the Versatility Award … and many, many more.
The AKC Agility ring is where we really rocked. It was my agility teacher, Julie Beller, who encouraged me to compete in my first agility trial. She convinced my parents and me that Chelsie and I were AKC material. After that cold February trial in Dayton, Ohio we were hooked and in a quest for titles … and titles we attained. Chelsie and I have our OA and AXJ titles, missing just one leg for our AX title. In 2006, Chelsie fell from the dog walk and injured her shoulder, an injury that has caused her problems ever since. Now, at age 10, she shows signs of arthritis so I fear that getting that last leg may go unfulfilled. She gives her all for me and I will do everything I can for her. She loves to compete and is the first one in the van on a dog show morning. She is comfortable and very good in Rally Obedience. In that venue I can add to her AKC titles without jeopardizing her health. The quest for Rally titles begins this summer.
In 2007, my parents and I took in a blue merle sheltie that needed a home, Bradys Kims Lady Marvelann (Call name Marvel). Marvel and I are currently training for her debut in Novice Agility and Rally. She has been happily adopted by Chelsie and we all live in (relative) harmony.
As an adult, I definitely see myself back in the agility ring. While I am in college I hope to be able to compete in a trial or two during summer breaks. I have always wanted to show in the conformation ring and, after I graduate and land a good paying job, I will be able to purchase show quality animals and maybe that will be my foundation for a top quality breeding program.
In August I start my college career at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio … sadly leaving my dogs at home with mom and dad four hours away. At CWRU I will major in Chemistry. After graduation, I plan to pursue a graduate degree in Pharmacology then work on both human and animal research projects. There are opportunities in this field to help develop new and better drug therapies for canine diseases such as the arthritis affecting Chelsie and so many others. The American Kennel Club Junior Showmanship Scholarship Grant is helping me achieve my further education at this top tier university.
Many thanks to this great organization for your support of me and other juniors as we go forth to make a difference in the world … and for all you do for the advancement of purebred dogs.