It was just another show; I was handling in the junior showmanship ring again. Junior showmanship is different than the regular breed ring; this is where you the handler are judged and not the dog. So all eyes are on you. We had decided which of the dobermans I would take into the ring and I was ready. I'd been in so many competitions at this point that it was old hat, I wasn't nervous at all until I found out who our judge was to be. She was a bigtime pro handler and author of this book I can't find an image of the book but I use to have my own copy; I may still have it somewhere in the mass of dog books that I have. Anyhow she was big and then the nerves kicked in. Wow, Martha?
I managed my nerves and was soon chill about going in the ring again; and then a glitch. I found out that "my dog" was to go into another ring and I had no dog to handle. I frantically ran around looking for a familiar face; what dog was I going to use? Finally at the very last moment possible; standing at the edge of the ring and going in that ring momentarily I asked a nice couple with their beautiful Airedale if I could use her. They agreed and handed her over to me; they stood on the sidelines watching.
Having never met this dog we did our quick "hi" and away we went. There were several different age groups and then the "best in show." I had won my age group so I was going in again; I had never handled an Airedale up until now, who knew that I would have my own airedale (which my very first dog) in a few short years? We went in; did our thing and won the big one; the trophy, the rosette ribbon, the huge bag of Purina dog food; which at the time was great a big win. I won it all; but the biggest win for me was what Martha whispered to me as she handed me my trophy. "My dear; never stop handling, we need more handlers like you in the ring." I was beaming.
Looking back at that one small phrase now; that alone stands out in my memory. Not that I won, not the ribbons, the trophies or the other prizes which are all long gone now; but the fact that she had noticed my ability with dogs. And although I don't handle in the conformation ring anymore; infact I haven't for many many years I still handle dogs on a regular basis and will forever. It was always to be me and the dogs.