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An Interview with Diana Chan

Today I’d like to introduce you to 17-year-old Diana Chan from Old Saybrook, Conn. Diana is a lifetime dog lover with big dreams, some of which she’s already accomplished.

In November of 2012, a friend sent me a link to a video. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but after watching it I realized why my friend wanted to share it with me. It is not only artistic and well put together, it’s also very moving. Now is your chance to see what I’m talking about. Just click here to see the video.

Diana is actively involved in the dog show world. She shows in Junior Showmanship and the breed ring, and she assists handlers. She also wishes to study film production with a concentration in producing. Her lifetime dream is to become successful in her work without succumbing to the corruptions of society. Do you think she can do it?

Let’s hear what she has to say about her experiences in the dog world thus far.

Diana Chan produced the award-winning video titled, “This is Zephr.” Photos courtesy of Diana Chan.

Kayla Bertagnolli: Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions today. First off, I want to congratulate you on the recognition you have received on your very moving video, “This Is Zephyr.” Tell us how you came up with the concept for the video.

Diana Chan: It all began as part of the application process for Chapman University. The prompt was to “Create a self-introductory video essay no more than two minutes in length. Your video should visually highlight something about yourself, your personality, your interests, etc., that is not related to film. The only rule is that you may NOT appear in the video in any way (including any photographs of yourself), so be creative.” My process for developing concepts for art projects is all visual. I hardly write anything down. After running through tons and tons of possible videos in my head, I decided upon the idea to create, “This is Zephyr.” I loved the idea of starting simple and building up the audience to something almost unfathomable. I was going for the punch in the gut, the kind that forces you to hold back tears. And I think I got it. However, the college wasn’t impressed and I did not get accepted.

KB: How did it feel to earn a Dog Writers Association of America Award at such a young age? What did you feel in that moment at the actual awards banquet?

DC: I was surprised. I was invited to attend the awards banquet, but I actually had no idea that I would be receiving an award. It’s really special to me because after being rejected from Chapman, it’s good to know that people do appreciate what I’ve done.

Diana accepting her award with Zephyr from DWAA President Dr. Carmen Battaglia.

KB: What feedback or surprising response have you received from others about your video?

DC: Everything I hear or read is positive except for a few people who commented on the video on Youtube, saying they didn’t “get it.” One woman left the comment “I gotta be honest, I don’t ‘get it’ either. And I don’t get it because your dog doesn’t have to compete and win a ton of titles or ribbons to be equally as valued or loved. That’s not what makes up a good dog.” That is the only comment that has bothered me because she totally misread the video! I don’t love Zephyr because she won all those ribbons! I love her because she and I have developed a bond that is stronger than anything I can imagine.

KB: Aside from this video, you also have been involved in the dog sport for many years. How did you become involved, and what activities do you participate in?

DC: I have been actively showing for about five years. I didn’t grow up in a dog show family, but I have always loved dogs. When I was 10, my mom took me to a dog show just to see what it was all about and I loved it! I told her right then and there that I wanted to show dogs. She told me that if I could figure out all the information and such, that I could do it. So I did, and long story short, I ended up with Zephyr three years later. I trained and finished her myself, and in 2011 we bred her. From that litter two are grand champions, one of which I show. The other is handled by Tuni Claflin, who I have worked with as an assistant for about three years. She’s a great woman, and I couldn’t ask to work for anyone better.

KB: Share with us your experience showing in Junior Showmanship at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show this year.

DC: Westminster was great. I was in a group with so many great handlers. It was just amazing to be there. Zephyr showed so well, and I was thrilled. It was Zephyr’s first time at Westminster due to being in season in 2011 and missing the entry deadline in 2012… oops.

Diana and Zephyr competing at the 2013 WKC in Junior Showmanship.

KB: Do you currently have any other projects planned?

DC: I’m currently working on a documentary about Dr. Howard and Karen Spey, who bred Zephyr.

KB: What advice do you have for others your age who may be interested in creating a piece that expresses their beliefs?

DC: Do what makes you happy. If you don’t think about what everyone expects you to produce, your work will be a whole lot better.

KB: Who would you like to thank for your early successes?

DC: So many people! To name a few, my mother, Susan Savage, Karen and Howard Spey, and Tuni Claflin.

KB: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

DC: I just hang out with my friends. I love dogs, but they’re not my night and day. I like to spend time with friends and experience everything the world has to offer.

KB: Any last words?

DC: I don’t know where my life will take me, I might not even end up being involved in film or dogs, but I will be happy.

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!"
  • Susan Chaney
    Susan Chaney April 23, 2013 at 11:15 AM

    I love this video every time that I re-watch it. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of seeing it. Even if it didn’t get Diana Chan into Chapman, it got her and Zephyr into a lot of our hearts. I smile every single time I see it.

  • Judy Silker April 23, 2013 at 12:46 PM

    There are times I have asked myself why I continue to show dogs. This video says it all. Well done, Diana!

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