Interview by Christi McDonald
It is our great pleasure to introduce Best In Show Daily readers to one of the many talented young people who are contributing to the sport of purebred dogs. Ellie Goiffon has been enjoying plenty of success with her home-bred Australian Terriers, and we’d like to share her story with you.
Ellie and Gabby in Orlando.
1. Can you give us a brief bio of yourself, including your involvement showing dogs so far? What are your interests outside of the dog show world?
I am 12 years old, a 7th grader and I am home-schooled. I live out in the country in Wisconsin with my family. I love it because we’re able to keep a variety of animals. My favorites are the dogs and horses. I also enjoy riding and fishing, especially ice fishing.
I first became interested in dog shows when I was younger. I’d watch the televised shows with my mom and when I was 8 years old, we decided it was the right time to choose a breed that my older sister and I could show and eventually breed.
I helped my mom research a variety of dog breeds, and narrowed our selection down to a few. We eventually decided on the Australian Terrier and started Dunham Lake Australian Terriers. We purchased two female Aussies, one for my sister, Lydia, and one for me, to show in Junior Showmanship and Conformation.
I began showing my first Australian Terrier, Dakota, when I was 9 years old, but it wasn’t easy to get started or to find a mentor in this breed. We didn’t know anyone else who was involved with showing dogs either. This was a completely new adventure for our family, but we enrolled in dog handling and obedience classes and I showed Dakota to her championship when she was approximately 16 months old.
2. Tell us a little bit about your success with your current show dog prior to the 2011 AKC/Eukanuba National Championship show.
My mom, my sister and I are a team in the breeding of Dunham Lake Aussies. We are all part of the planning process, including deciding on sires for our litters. Dakota is my dog and the mother of my 2-year-old Bred-By bitch, Gabby, Ch. Dunham Lake Gabriella Touched by an Angel. I was there to assist with the whelping of Gabby’s litter.
I took Gabby to her first fun match show when she was 5 months old, and she won Best Terrier Puppy. Then when she was 6 months old, I showed her at her first AKC show and she won her first point. She also won Best Bred-by-Exhibitor Group First with many other Terriers showing.
Gabby received her first major win under Mr. Ronald Menaker when she was 7 months old and, with limited showing, she finished her championship when she was 16 months old. In October 2011, at the Devon and Hatboro shows during the Australian Terrier Club of America Specialty/Montgomery County weekend, Gabby won Best of Opposite Sex at two of the four shows under judges Mrs. Barbara Keenan and Mr. Terry Stacy.
3. How did it feel to be invited to show your dog at the prestigious AKC/Eukanuba National Championship, and then to go on to win Best Bred-by-Exhibitor in Australian Terriers?
I was very excited to be invited to the AKC/Eukanuba show with my first Bred-By champion. This was my second year attending the show, but it was the first time for my girl, Gabby. We were not going to attend at first, but we had two reasons to attend: She did very well at the National Specialty weekend shows and we wanted to visit with a puppy of ours that lives in Florida and was in an accident this past summer. I am very happy to report that he is doing quite well.
I was thrilled with the honor of winning the Bred-by-Exhibitor class, as well as the first Award of Excellence. It was an incredible experience! My family and I are very dedicated to this breed and do what is in its best interest. We breed to the AKC breed standard, perform health and temperament testing, and raise well-socialized puppies. For our breeding program to be recognized at this very special event was a very proud moment for my mom and me.
Ellie handled Ch. Dunham Lake Gabriella Touched By An Angel to Best Bred-by-Exhibitor Australian Terrier and an Award of Excellence under Dr. H. Scott Kellogg at the 2011 AKC/Eukanuba National Championship.
4. Have you helped with the training of the dogs you show? Do you do the grooming on your show dogs?
My sister Lydia and I do the dog training using positive and food-motivated methods. This has worked well for us. I bathe and brush our dogs, but my mom grooms them for the conformation show ring. I’m learning to groom as well, and I always make the final touches before entering the ring, such as getting the topknot to stand up just right. I typically groom the dogs that are not being shown and do my own grooming for the dogs I show in Junior Handling.
5. What is your favorite part of showing dogs?
My favorite part is spending one-on-one time with my dog. I also enjoy seeing how our efforts at home come together as we work as a team in the show ring. I enjoy the experience of traveling to shows in different parts of the country with my dog and my family. I’ve met some really great people through our involvement in the dog shows.
6. Who have been your role models in the show world? Who are the people that you admire?
I have made many friends in the dog show world. I’ve learned a lot from Pamela Levy, a very good Australian Terrier owner-handler, and from Chelsay Paul, a former junior handler who is now a professional handler. Both have given me so much good advice. I have to say, most of the handlers have been very nice to me. My first mentor, Wayne Harmon, is a friend and judge from our local kennel club, the Cambridge KC. He is always helpful and has guided us in the right direction. I admire honest and ethical people who display good sportsmanship, and people who love their dogs as I do. My dogs are always my companions.
7. What do you feel you’ve learned so far from being part of the dog show world?
Dog showing is a lot of fun, but it is also a commitment. Sometimes people at the shows do not display good sportsmanship, but I have learned to ignore these people and just have fun. For me, showing dogs is an exciting and different way to include my dog in an activity we both enjoy.
8. What would be your advice to other young people who are interested in showing dogs?
Pick a breed that you enjoy. Practice and learn together to be good team. Never forget that you and your dog should always have fun. It does not matter if you win or lose — your dog will always be your best friend.
Ellie winning Bred-By Exhibitor Group First with 6-month old Gabby.