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Best In Show Daily’s Who’s Who: Carolyn Hensley, Ph.D.

Carolyn Hensley began judging in 2003 and is now approved for 11 Hound breeds, 14 Toy breeds and three Terriers. She is also active in several clubs, and serves on the board of directors for the Yorkshire Terrier Club of America and the Lake Matthews Kennel Club. She took a little time out to answer the BISD Who’s Who questions from her home in Southern California.

1. Where were you born?
I spent my formative years in the wonderful states of Wyoming and Arizona, and have always called them home…a western gal all the way!

2. What roles have you played in the dog world: breeder, owner-handler, professional handler, apprentice, judge, delegate, writer, publisher, photographer, artist, campaign manager?
I have worked at most of the roles, including breeder, owner-handler, assistant to a professional handler, judge, writer, campaign manager, club officer and board member, and show chair and worker.

I would have enjoyed being involved as an artist or photographer, but alas, I don’t have the talent it takes to do so.

Carolyn Hensley with Pomeranian Ch. Wilhoites N Rodi’s Golden Boy, by Michelle Wilhoite, handled by Ricardo Solis. Photo by Vicki Holloway.

3. Are you the only person in your family who is involved in the dog show world?
Yes, my family all says I went to the dogs years ago. While my family members have all had dogs, I am the only one who became interested in the dog show world.

4. With what living dog person have you had the longest acquaintance, other than a relative?
I would have to say that those I have known the longest are from the early 1970s, when I was very active in Hounds: Ric and Nancy Byrd, Lou Torres, Don and Pat Rodgers, Kelly Cromer, Andy Linton, Clay Coady, Gloria Reese, Sue Vroom and the incomparable Pat Craige Trotter.

5. What breeds have you been personally involved with? What is your favorite breed?
My first “show” dog was acquired in 1966, a Poodle and not of quality so I never finished him. I did however learn a lot and meet some terrific people.
You can almost follow my aging, and physical injuries, by the list of breeds I’ve been involved with over the years, from Irish Wolfhounds, Scottish Deerhounds and Borzoi, to Italian Greyhounds, Chinese Cresteds, Japanese Chins, Yorkshire Terriers and Cairn Terriers.

6. Who inspired you in the dog world? In what way?
There are many, many who continue to inspire me to this day. Just when I feel all has changed and this is not the close, family-like atmosphere that it once was, individuals in the sport suddenly prove me wrong, yet again, by their actions, proving that the real spirit of the sport is still with us today!

Those who I must give credit to for helping me develop a love of the dog show world would be the individuals and judges who showed patience and kindness to me. While the names may not mean much to people today, these individuals were all giants in my eyes, and continue to be models for my interest in this chosen hobby. They include Paul and Frida Pilot, the inimitable Derek Rayne, Ellsworth Gamble, Winnie Heckman and Edith Nash Hellerman.

All of these individuals showed patience and kindness, and provided encouragement when I started in this hobby in a big way. They also taught me how to really look at and understand dogs, to remain humble and continue to learn, and, the most valuable lesson, that there is no way I will ever learn all there is to know about our canine companions in my lifetime. Lastly, they taught me to pay it forward, before it was a catch phrase, by doing the same for the next novice.

7. Are you taken, looking or happily unattached? If taken, by whom and for how long?
Oh, let’s keep them guessing…

Seriously, taken for a long, long time by a very charming fellow who very few in the dog world have ever met, as he is not involved in dog activities.

8. What are your current house pets?
At the present we have Standards and Yorkies living with us. Each is a delightful creature in its own way. We did, however, make the bed off limits, as each of them, no matter the size, think they belong on our laps or wherever we are, be it the couch, chair, and so on.

9. What is your most prized possession?
Besides my animals, it would be family photographs and related items. If I had to evacuate quickly I would grab the dogs and the photo albums, as almost everything else can be easily replaced.

10. What one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?
That, although reluctant, I am a gourmet cook.

11. Besides dog things, what are your favorite interests or activities?
Antique cars, ocean racing and auto racing! I used to love snow skiing until a mogul and my knees met and disagreed.

12. Other than your chosen profession, how would you like to have earned a living?
I would say what I was always told as a child: “If it interests you, then set your sights on it and reach for it. The failure is not that you did not make it, but only in not trying, which leads to regret.”

So I have tried various careers or professions, excelling at some and failing at others, but I have no regrets!

Written by

Christi McDonald is a second-generation dog person, raised with a kennel full of Cairn Terriers. After more than a decade as a professional handler’s apprentice and handling professionally on her own, primarily Poodles and Cairns, she landed a fortuitous position in advertising sales with the monthly all-breed magazine ShowSight. This led to an 11-year run at Dogs in Review, where she wore several hats, including advertising sales rep, ad sales manager and, finally, editor for five years. Christi is proud to be part of the editorial team for the cutting-edge Best In Show Daily. She lives in Apex, N.C., with two homebred black Toy Poodles, the last of her Foxfire line, and a Norwich Terrier.