Today I get to share with you an interview with someone who is not only a talented junior handler, but a knowledgeable, inspiring young lady! From the Open Intermediate class, I introduce to you Miss Breanna Uyeno.
This 14-year-old from La Habra Heights, Calif., has already made her mark in the dog world and hopes to do much more as her juniors career continues, and afterwards as a college student. She’s not messin’ around! She loves every minute she gets to show, and has a pretty impressive list of notable wins, including:
• Top Junior Handler – Great Dane Club of America 2011
• Best Junior Handler – Great Dane Club of America’s National Specialty 2011
• Number 2 Great Dane Junior Handler Nationwide 2012
• Best Junior Handler – American Bullmastiff Association Western Regional Specialty 2009 and 2011
• Best Junior Handler – Golden Retriever Club of America’s Western Regional Specialty 2012
Not only that, but she already has her qualifying wins for AKC/Eukanuba 2013 along with four Best Junior Handlers and a total of six first-place wins since October of last year!
Breanna and her Harlequin Great Dane look forward to attending shows most weekends, including some big events. Let’s get to know these two and see what they have planned for this year…
Kayla Bertagnolli: Let’s start off by having you tell us a little bit about how you got involved in the sport and where you are now.
Breanna Uyeno: I started showing dogs competitively when I was 9 years old with my Boxer Ch. Desert Wind’s Lady Nova, aka ‘Sunshine.’ That wasn’t the first time I had been to a dog show or in the ring, though. My mom has been showing and breeding dogs since before I was born and started taking me with her when I was about 2 years old. When I was 5, my mom allowed me to start showing my Bullmastiff in fun matches. I had the greatest time and fell in love with the sport of dog showing.
I’ve enjoyed every minute I’ve been in the ring, but at that time I never dreamed I would be where I am today!
Today you will find me not only in the juniors ring, but also in multiple breed rings on any given weekend. I have successfully shown a breed from almost every Group. I have won many Best Junior Handler awards with multiple breeds and finished many different breeds of dogs to their championships and grand championships.
KB: How many years have you been showing in Junior Showmanship now, and what have you taken from the experience?
BU: I have been showing in Junior Showmanship for five years. Throughout those five years, I have learned a great deal and continue to learn every time I step into the ring. Showing and working with dogs is a great responsibility that I not only love, but also take seriously. I have learned a variety of skills and tactics for showing dogs by observing and assisting many different handlers in the ring. I am always willing to learn something new. Showing many different breeds has also helped me to grow as a handler. Every dog is different, has different needs and challenges me in a different way.
KB: What are your goals as a Junior Handler as you continue your career?
BU: I set very high goals for myself. I hope to someday, before I age out of juniors, win Best Junior Handler at Westminster or Eukanuba, and to be ranked among the Top Five all-breed junior handlers nationally.
KB: You are mainly known for handling a Great Dane, although you show other breeds as well. What difficulties do you face with such a large Working dog?
BU: Showing such a large dog is difficult and has its own unique challenges. What many people don’t understand is how stubborn they can be. Unlike a smaller dog where you can just pick it up to move or adjust it, when a large dog does not want to do something, it is very challenging to find a way to get it do whatever it is you want it to do and still make it look easy and smooth to the judge’s eye.
Another problem I face is that I have had a number of judges be intimidated by my dog; Great Danes are not a typical juniors dog.
I also have to worry about ring size and making sure I leave a huge amount of distance between me and another dog, especially ones that are much smaller than my dog. For instance, my dog is playful and will sometimes jump around having fun in the ring. I have to make sure I leave enough space between me and the dog I am standing behind or next to, so that my dog does not accidentally step on or bump the other dog or handler.
KB: I hear that you will be competing in perhaps the biggest juniors competition in California this weekend, when the California Junior of the Year will be titled. Do you prepare for this event differently than you would for any other show?
BU: I don’t really prepare any differently for these big events than I do for smaller shows. I prepare the best I can before any show, big or small. I make sure that my dog is in the best condition possible, and I try to think of the big event as just another dog show to keep my nerves from getting the best of me.
KB: You also will be competing in Junior Showmanship at Westminster Kennel Club! How are you feeling as this event approaches?
BU: This will be my third year competing at Westminster, but no matter how many times I have shown there, I am still really excited to show at such a prestigious event.
I didn’t even realize how close it really is, until this week when I had to start asking my teachers for my school work so I can make sure I don’t fall behind during my absence. Now I am excited and can’t wait! The experience of traveling to New York and showing at Westminster is an honor. This year I am taking my Great Dane to show in juniors and in breed. It will be harder getting her there than the previous dogs I have taken, my Golden Retriever and Pug. But I know once I walk in that ring, it will all be worth it.
KB: Do you have any mentors or supporters who help you throughout these harder competitions and events?
BU: There are many people that have helped me throughout the years. The one who has influenced me the most would have to be Lauren Texter who was a junior handler herself. Lauren has mentored me since the day I first started showing. Her guidance and support have had a big impact on me and have certainly helped me to grow as a handler. The other person who has guided and supported me along the way is Dick Schaefer. He often sits ringside during juniors and is always willing to give me tips and ideas about what I can do differently to improve my handling skills. He has been especially helpful in teaching me how to show my Great Dane to the fullest.
KB: When you’re not at shows or preparing for shows, what do you like to do in your free time?
BU: When I am not at shows, I am usually playing softball or volleyball for my high school. I am also an honors student, so homework and studying keep me busy. When I am not busy with all of that, you will almost always find me hanging out with my friends.
KB: Looking to the future, what do you hope to do after you complete your juniors career?
BU: I will probably take a break from dog showing while I start college. I hope to go to a university where I can obtain my degree in veterinary medicine or criminal science.
However, I would like to take my skill of handling dogs with me wherever I decide to attend school so I can professionally handle dogs as a part-time job while I pursue my academics.
KB: Any last words for our DFR readers?
BU: First and foremost, I would like to thank Suzzane Kelleher-Duckett for driving to shows and allowing me to own and show her magnificent dog, my current juniors dog, Vendetta.
I would also like to thank Doug Plemmel, Linda McDonald and Christine and Lauren Texter for also allowing me the privilege of owning and showing their dogs over the past five years.
Lastly, I want to thank my mom and dad for all of their support throughout the years, and in advance for all of the years to come!
I also want to say to all the other junior handlers: make sure that through it all you’re having fun! If it’s fun for you, it’s fun for your dog, and there’s nothing better than showing a happy dog!
KB: We have fun here, and we hope that everyone does in the ring as well! A special thanks to Breanna for taking the time to let us into her world!
And remember, Dogs Freakin’ Rule!