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An Interview with Chloe Tilford

Talk about a day to remember!

Miss Chloe Tilford, a 16-year-old junior handler from Louisville, Ky., who’s only been showing dogs for three years now, was awarded not only Best Junior Handler, but also Best in Show at the Southern Indiana Kennel Club on June 1, 2013. I think it’s safe to say that at her age she will remember this day for many years to come!

At the end of the lead was her English Springer Spaniel ‘Journey,’ Ch. Keswicke Mezzo Forte.

Chloe and Journey pose with their Best in Show ribbon after their memorable win.

I had the chance to get the full story from Chloe herself, and here is what she had to say…

Kayla Bertagnolli: Please give us a brief history on your dog show career.

Chloe Tilford: I have been showing dogs for about three years now. I started in 4-H dog program just doing agility, obedience and very little conformation or Junior Showmanship. There were two girls in 4-H who were also active in AKC dog shows, and my sister and I became interested in handling and competing in juniors. So we contacted Laurin Howard, who teaches handling classes. We drove from Louisville to Versailles, Ky., every Tuesday for about four months. My first dog shows were the Columbus, Ohio, shows in November with my Australian Shepherd, Cissi. I got my three Novice Junior class wins in only two show weekends! My third time showing in Open Intermediate, I won Best Junior Handler, and after that I was winning almost every time I was in the Open Intermediate class. I also made it to Westminster my first year of showing dogs. To top it off, I was awarded Best Junior Handler the same day I won Best in Show!

KB: How does competing in the breed ring differ from the juniors ring?

CT: I feel like the breed ring is not as strict as the Junior Showmanship ring. Juniors is different than breed because the judge in juniors is judging your handling and not your dog. I love showing in both, breed and juniors!

KB: Can you describe how you felt the moment you were awarded Best in Show?

CT: I was shocked. I looked outside the ring and my sister, my mom, my coach and two other people were crying their eyes out! I think that I was too shocked to cry. It was definitely unexpected because I was in the Best in Show ring with amazing professional handlers with their top ranked dogs.

KB: Are you currently involved in any other aspects of the dog show world?

CT: Not at the moment, but I do want to start doing agility again.

KB: How do you wish to continue your dog show career?

CT: I would like to continue handling, and eventually become a breeder.

KB: What are you goals as a junior for 2013?

CT: I would love to make it to Westminster again next year. Also I would like to become the number one English Springer Spaniel junior, which is very tough.

KB: When you have free time, what do you enjoy doing?

CT: My mom owns a dance company, so I enjoy dancing in my free time. Also, I spend a lot of time training dogs.

KB: Who has been your biggest inspiration?

CT: I would have to say my sister, Paige Tilford. She has done so well in this sport so far. She is currently the number one Rhodesian Ridgeback junior and is already qualified for Westminster.

KB: What advice do you have for other handlers your age who wish to enter the Best in Show ring?

CT: Show like you’re showing in Best Junior!

KB: Any last words?

CT: I would just like to thank the judges who awarded me these amazing wins: Group judge Mrs. Betsy Horn Humer, Best in Show judge Mrs. Helen W. Gleason and Best Junior judge Mr. Michael Staley. Thank you to Paige Tilford for letting me show her dog in juniors! Thank you to Laurin Howard, Lori Johnson, Ruth Dehmel, Dell King. And a BIG thank you to my parents, Carolyne and Bruce Tilford.

KB: What an amazing experience for such a talented young handler! I’m sure this is the first of many more for you, Chloe, and I can’t wait to see how you continue to grow. Good luck in the both the juniors and conformation rings!

Just one more reason Dogs Freakin’ Rule!

Written by

Kayla Bertagnolli is a 23-year-old from Ogden, UT, who's been involved in the dog show world her whole life. A former junior handler who learned about breeding Beagles from her mother Leah, she assisted several professional handlers and is currently working to become a Junior Showmanship judge. Kayla is passionate about photography and writes the twice-weekly blog, DFR. She plans to continue breeding and showing, and expects to stay involved in dogs "for life!"