Interview with Owner Handler Kimberly Bakker
How were you first introduced to the sport of purebred dogs? To your breed?
Kimberly Bakker: I’ve carried on the kennel name “KC” from my grandparents, Kathleen and Charles Morgan. They introduced me to dog showing when I was eight and we had Old English Sheepdogs. I’m a 7th grade school teacher at a K-8 school and I enjoy the challenges that arise every day at school. Dog shows are my passion, joy, and heartbreak, and I love the friends who have become my family over the decades.
How many years in dogs? In your breed?
Kimberly Bakker: I was first introduced to the sport of dogs at the age of eight when we went to a fun match in San Francisco for Old English Sheepdogs. I went into Junior Handling, won my class, and never looked back. I am creeping up on 50 years of being in dogs and have enjoyed Italian Greyhounds since 1986.
Do you attend show handling classes? Have you attended in-person handling seminars?
Kimberly Bakker: I rarely attend handling classes because of distance to a class and the time the class is held. I have not attended in-person handling seminars, as I feel I learned a great deal of my handling skills from the late Don Rodgers and Carl Sanders. These two gentlemen were masters of showing Italian Greyhounds. I always watch top handlers, take away what I believe makes them great, and practice, practice, practice the skills I feel are necessary to elevate my handling and presentation of my dog(s).
Have you found virtual learning tools to be helpful? Videos? Websites? Social Media? AKC Canine College?
Kimberly Bakker: I am not tech savvy and don’t rely on videos, websites, or social media for learning new skills with my dogs.
Do you compete in the National Owner-Handled Series? Are rankings important to you?
Kimberly Bakker: Yes, I started competing in the NOHS with gusto this year with my Italian Greyhound, “Red.” She’s something special! I’m a competitor, so yes, rankings are important to me. However, I keep in mind that showing in any ring is subject to the judge’s opinion.
In which class(es) are you most likely to enter your dog(s)?
Kimberly Bakker: I usually enter Bred-by-Exhibitor and feel it is an honor to present what I believe to be top quality dogs to judges. I’m proud to be showing my own dogs.
Who have been your mentor(s) as an Owner Handler?
Kimberly Bakker: Currently, I don’t have any mentors as an owner handler. I have 49 years of experience to guide me. If I am going into a new breed, such as my recent adventure into Japanese Chin, I do watch top handlers/owner handlers to fine-tune my skills. Each breed has little nuances that need to be addressed.
What are the benefits of competing with your breed(s) as an Owner Handler?
Kimberly Bakker: For the most part, out here in California, there are only owner handlers in the IG ring—and many are really good handlers. The competition is tough and that keeps me on my toes for training my dog to be at its best. One important benefit of showing my own dogs is that judges recognize me since l’ve spent so many decades showing. They know I will always bring in a good dog for them to evaluate.
How are you encouraging new exhibitors to participate in the sport?
Kimberly Bakker: It’s difficult to even find new exhibitors who will stay in the sport. Many become frustrated when they lose, as they want instant wins. Many don’t realize the cost of showing and the amount of dedication necessary to be successful. l’m always willing to help people in my breed and others because the sport has lost many good people due to COVID, rising prices, retiring from showing/breeding dogs, and moving into judging.
Are there any suggestions you’d like to pass along about the presentation of your breed(s).
Kimberly Bakker: When presenting an Italian Greyhound, know the finer points of your dog and show these off to the judge. IGs must be well-socialized and trained for the ring. Go in with confidence and show your dog “like a boss!”
What are your goals as an Owner Handler? Is there a victory that has eluded you?
Kimberly Bakker: My goals as an owner handler are to keep showing my dogs for many more years to come. I’m proud to say that my sister and I have consistently had our dogs in the Top 10 of our breeds for decades. We believe in quality over quantity. The one BIG win to elude me is a Breed win at the National. Lots of Winners Dog/Bitch… but never the “big one.”
Show Comments (0)