My hobbies and interests in life tend to be eclectic. Some people have referred to me as a true Renaissance woman.

Starting in 4-H, I learned to be much more disciplined in my approach and entered the world of obedience training which eventually lead to the county fair obedience trials. My dog at the time, a poodle, did fair, and it gave me a taste for what was to come decades later.

I got my first Great Dane from a rescue group near Madison, Wisconsin. Quincy captured my heart and was quickly followed by another Great Dane, Brinn. Brinn proved to be more athletic then Quincy and it was her that I decided to start in training with an eye toward our first title from the American Kennel Club (AKC).

AKC, and other parent kennel clubs, offer a variety of events that you can compete with your best friend, well beyond the conformation competition that we tend to associate with Westminster or Crufts, which televise only the group and best of show competitions. At this stage of my career I was more interested in the obedience trials.

Obedience trials have several levels and types of competition. You must earn qualifying scores under three different judges to earn a title. The first title is a Companion Dog or CD. The exercises you and your dog must complete are fairly basic commands on and off leash. Heel, recall and stand for exam are done individually.

Then come the group exercises. These are the sit stay and down stay. Trust me, a one minute sit stay can seem like an eternity.

Your may think your dog is rock solid and then they do something goofy, like decide to chase a fly. Or something embarrassing like fall asleep during the down and start snoring. I speak from first hand knowledge as Brinn did both at various shows. In the end though, we won her first title of CD. Unfortunately she became ill and passed away before we could to her next title. She left a hole in my heart that has really never quite healed.

While training Brinn for obedience, I started becoming involved with conformation with yet another Great Dane. We did some winning and we had a great time. At one show, he did a strange double take and ended up behind me and then almost took me down much like Dino would do to Fred.

In the end, Baron earned his championship in the United Kennel Club (UKC) and ended up being the No. 1Great Dane of 2003, in spite of the Dino impersonation. 

After Baron died I bought my first Basenji. A black and white that I opted to name Elsa after the lioness that was made quite popular in the 1960’s. Basenji’s come from Africa so I thought it fitting.

Basenjis are still fairly rare. They are sometimes called the barkless African dog which some people interpret to be soundless. Far from it. These dogs do tend to be more quiet but far from soundless. They have a whole repertoire of yips, growls and their famous yodel or singing. They can even sound like human babies. If you google it you can find several thousand examples on youtube. They are athletic, smart and stubborn. They are very catlike in that they self groom leaving no odor and seldom needing a bath. All of these qualities is what drew me to this particular breed.

Basenjis are sight hounds, in the same group as greyhounds. This opened up a whole new world of dog showing. Now, along side conformation, obedience, and agility competitions there is lure coursing and barn hunts that are open to us.

All my hobbies tend to be expensive and dog showing is no exception. Starting with a quality puppy, a lifetime of food, toys and veterinary care compiled with show entries, travel and overnight stays, not to mention ‘bling for the ring’ and treats, it all adds up. For me, showing deepens the relationship I have with my dogs and I meet like minded folks from all over the world. I have come to appreciate my dogs even more.

Yes I have show dogs. But they are first and foremost my pets and family members that I happen to show. They have opened up whole new worlds of activities, cultures and people. It’s worth it for me.