I hear a lot of folks decrying the woeful state of our sport populated, as I have been repeatedly assured, by all-about-me Millennials who never learned to work and requiring a participation ribbon just for showing up. I’ve even been known to mutter on this topic myself.
Thus, it was with a bit of trepidation that I succumbed to the nudging of none other than Mr. Bill to touch base with some of the young people in the Fancy. A few of these up and coming handlers, breeders and owners, all 30 and under, were known to me, but a great many were not.
I was absolutely blown away! These young men and women express the insight, the work ethic, the commitment and the passion to lead us forward into what may well become a new “Golden Age” of the sport. I see an awful lot of talent and smarts in this group.
Shine on Twentysomethings!
This is a big list of folks with a lot to say. Some are well known, others much less so. Nonetheless, I expect to be seeing many of these names in bright lights and big cities in the coming years.
Here’s a taste from the highlight reels of these outstanding young people.
BISD: If you were “King/Queen for a Day,” what one change would you make to the sport to revitalize it?
“Can one change revitalize our sport?” asks Aaron Bradshaw, 21, of Dallas, Tex. “We all need to do more for the sport we are passionate about. Public education, judges education, being involved with clubs, reducing costs, breed legislation, coming together as a group to make change happen. I would like to share my passion with my children one day, it would be nice to not have uncertainty about the future of our sport.”
“This is a question I take very seriously,” says Jeffrey Hanlin, 26, Pittsburgh, Penn., “because the answer is the sole reason for my own involvement in the sport — we must stop making excuses and start taking time out of our busy lives to make and effort to involve, inspire, and encourage young people from the outside world who aren’t aware that this sport exists. There is incredible potential out there, but it’s not going to find itself.”
“I would love to see a junior showmanship-like competition for new adult exhibitors,” says Leslie Miller, 26, Nebraska City, Neb. “I wholeheartedly believe junior showmanship is a great way to improve handling skills, and I think it is too bad that there is nothing equivalent to this for adults…”
“I would drastically increase the amount of activities and seminars for not only juniors, but newcomers as well,” says Katie Anne Mazurowski, 23, Colorado Springs, Colo. “This is a family sport and everyone who is interested should receive a warm welcome from experienced handlers/breeders who encourage them to become lifelong enthusiasts.”
BISD: Who is/are your mentor(s)?
“I am the person that I am today, both in and out of the sport of purebred dogs, because of a wonderful group of influential people that have guided me,” says Kirk Herrmann, 26, Gainsville, Fla. “The first two people to take me under their wings when I was a struggling novice were Wendy Kellerman and Rhonda Pacchioli. They taught me about the camaraderie in the sport and the dedication required to condition a dog properly, but most importantly they picked up my spirits when I was ready to give up.”
“I consider myself to be very fortunate when it comes to mentors,” says Brandon Edge, 24, Laurinburg, N.C., “because I have had some of the best in our sport. Jean Hetherington, Chris Manelopoulos and Rachel Corbin, Allen Weinberg, and Mike and Linda Pitts. Each one of these individuals have taught me many, many lessons, and they each hold a special place in my life.”
BISD: What was your favorite or most memorable win?
“It’s hard to pick,” says Riley Mars, 26, Alton, Iowa. “…For hunt tests, it was earning the first leg of my GWP’s JH title – it was my first time doing a hunt test and I was terrified of the birds! It was an amazing feeling as my club members were waiting to hear how we had done and celebrate with us.”
“My favorite win was a Best Junior in cluster win under Peter Green at the Canfield shows,” says Tanner Congleton, 21, Columbus, Ohio. “It was truly an honor to win under such a staple of the sport.”
BISD: What lesson did you take away from your most humbling loss?
“…my most humbling experience was having a dog wicketed for the first time back when I was about 11,” says Cheyenne Schlecht, 24, Ridgefield, Wash. “I was pulled into the center of the ring in a large Lab entry at the Rose City Classic and had to wait what felt like a lifetime for the wicket to arrive. During this insanely embarrassing moment several handlers ran over to tell me what to do. I learned that day that dog show family sticks together and someone is always there to look out for you and support you.”
“… no matter how hard you prepare and train, the decision is ultimately not up to you,” says Grace Kofron, 21, Milwaukee, Wis. “You have to take the losses in stride, and beating yourself up over it won’t help. You have to learn from both the positive and negative experiences.”
BISD: What is your #1 “secret to success”?
“The whole dog matters,” says Kristi Green, 30, Durango, Colo. “Focus on VIRTUE. Watch. Listen. Learn. Study. Read. See what those who have made breed history in the past have done. Why was it successful? Try similar breedings. Don’t be afraid to let an ‘ok’ puppy go…or accept that a breeding simply did not produce what you were hoping for. Most importantly, work with people with similar goals and values – you can’t do this alone.”
“I’ve learned the best way to be successful is to keep your head down,” says Lauren Lavitt, 23, Long Beach, Calif., “make sure your dogs are well cared for and your owners are happy and stay away from gossip and cattiness.”
BISD:15 years from today, what do you hope will be your “claim to fame”?
“… I hope that I will have made my mother proud with continuing the Mountain View breeding program,” says Kelly Wisch, 27, York, Penn. “Wirehairs are my passion! After winning the national last year as a handler, I would really like to win the national with a dog I bred. I think I have finally earned the right to show my dogs all the way through without my mom hiring someone. I hope to have a string of dogs that I am proud of and believe in.”
In the Year of Living Well, we encourage these young people as they reach for the stars and hope they can take us all with them on the ride. Watch for the full feature article in the June BISD Magazine.
As always, this is JMHO.