JULIE BERTRAND/Independent reporter
Kathleen and Sophie Pye of Gadsby are on their way to become reputed junior dog handlers as they compete at local Canadian Kennel Club events with their family dogs.
Their mother Dawn Larsen, herself a dog lover who breeds bull terriers at the family home east of Gadsby. is understandably very proud.
“I show my dogs occasionally, but my daughter is better than me,” joked Larsen in an interview.
The Pye sisters have had an exceptional year, gaining enough points to qualify for the Alberta Provincial Junior Handling Championships in Medicine Hat, Alberta, on May 14. This means that the girls placed in the top five of their division.
“Although they show registered dogs, the classes are about them (girls), not the beauty of the dog,” explained Larsen.
“It’s about how well they show the dog off, how well they handle the dog, their sportsmanship.”
Kathleen will be showing her Borzoi Leo, while Sophie will show a toy dog borrowed from a family friend in the next competition.
“Juniors can show any dog as long as it’s a registered dog with the Canadian Kennel Club or the American Kennel Club,” said Larsen.
Kathleen won last year’s junior provincial championships in her division. She hopes to repeat her success this year.
While Sophie is less serious about the activity than her older sister, skipping events when she didn’t feel like it, she still managed to earn enough points to qualify for the provincial championships.
It’s not too shabby, when you realize that Larsen suggested the activity to Kathleen as a way to increase her daughter’s sense of self-confidence. Soon after her debut, she placed over three professional dog handlers.
“That made her feel really good,” remembered Larsen.
While winning events and titles is nice, the most important thing for Larsen is that her daughters enjoy it.
“The kids are having a good time,” said Larsen.
The dog world might prove to be a career path for Kathleen, who intends to become a Borzoi breeder. She has plans to start her own dog kennel in the backyard of the family home as a student job. Larsen encourages her to pursue her passion.
So how many dogs exactly does the Pye-Larsen family own?
“We have 4 show dogs of our own. We have two borrowed dogs and a retired wolfhound,” said Larsen.