Defining Success with Jean Hetherington

A Q&A with the 2014 Winkie® winner for Best Owner-Handler.

A Q&A with the 2014 Winkie® winner for Best Owner-Handler.

Dogs in Review: Tell us a little about yourself. Was/is your family involved in the sport? If not, what sparked your interest in showing dogs?

Jean Hetherington: My husband bought a Bulldog in 1962, and the breeders asked us to attend a Bulldog puppy match. I believe he won his class, and that hooked us.

DIR: Who have been your mentors and role models in the sport?

JH: We were fortunate that when we started showing, most of the shows were benched. We were able to sit and listen to the Bulldoggers and soak up lots of knowledge. We became very active in the local club, helping to mimeograph and address the monthly newsletters and, again, listen.

We won the Bulldog Club of America National in 1966 with a dog from our first litter. He also won the two back-up shows — all under breeder-judges. We were not expected to last in the breed after doing so much winning when just starting out.

DIR: Was it a foregone conclusion that you would show your own dogs in the ring, or did you ever consider a professional handler?

JH: We have always shown our own Bulldogs, but in the late 1960s, we bought a Chow Chow with Dr. Sam Draper, and he was handled by Ted Young, Jr. I learned about the all-breed shows from Teddy, who became a great friend. A lot of the Bulldog people, then and now, prefer just going to Specialties.

DIR: How do you personally define success in our sport? When did you know that you had achieved it?

JH: When recognized by AKC with the 2009 Non-Sporting Breeder of the Year Award at Eukanuba, we realized the success we have achieved.

DIR: How have dog shows changed since you began in the sport?

JH: Shows have gotten smaller. In the ‘60s and ‘70s, you knew who would be at what shows. Handlers and owners did not travel outside their area. There was no flying of dogs from one show to another. The professional handlers all took August off.

DIR: Have you ever felt disadvantaged as an owner-handler?

JH: Yes, but not too often. There are a few judges who always point to the handlers.

DIR: What advice would you give owner-handlers to up their game?

JH: Watch the professionals. Dress professionally and congratulate the winners.

DIR: What has been the proudest moment in your dog-showing life?

JH: Winning the Winkie for Best Owner-Handler for 2014 and the AKC award mentioned above.

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