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Colton O'Shea

Winner, Crufts International Junior Handler Worlds Competition

Interview/article/photo by SUSAN BICKNELL []


Recently I had the privilege of talking with the International Worlds Junior Handler Winner from Crufts, Colton O’Shea. I’m told this is his second win here. Congratulations Colton!


Colton O'Shea - Winner, Crufts International Junior Handler Worlds CompetitionFirst of all, thank you so much for this interview. Please tell us a bit about yourself?


I'm 18 years old, I live in Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, Canada. I've shown dogs for 9 years and have worked for and learned under Allison Foley (one of Canada's top professional handlers) for the past 5 years.


How old were you when you got into this sport and how did you find your way?


I got involved when my step father took me to my first dog show when I was 9 years and I was hooked. Travelling all across the Maritime provinces to compete in junior handing and coming dead last almost every time. But with hard work and determination, eventually that changed.


Is there someone in particular that you admire, or that you would call your mentor/s?


As I mentioned Allison Foley is my mentor, she's taught me so much about the grooming, handling and overall care of our dogs. For the first 3 years I worked for Leading Edge (the name of Allison's company) Olivia Hodgkinson was the main assistant at that time and taught me so much during those three years and is one of the most supportive people I know.


Do you have your own dogs and do you breed under a prefix?


I do not currently have my own dog but there are a few that may as well be since I tend to grow close to the ones we show.


Do you have a favourite breed you love showing and why?


I absolutely love showing standard poodles. I guess I got that from Allison!


Tell us about Bob, your Pointer partner!


Bob was the best partner I could have asked for. He was the sweetest boy and loved to show. He moved like a dream which was my favourite part about him, he felt great at the end of the lead. I truly couldn't have asked for a better dog!


Is there any part of the whole dog game you honestly do not care for?


I can handle a lot when it comes to dog shows but what I absolutely cannot stand is when someone can't take a loss. In this game winning and losing happen (for the most part) just as often as one another and you need to be able to handle both.


When people start talking bad about other people for idiotic reasons is another one of my pet peeves. I'm currently in high school, I see enough drama during the week, the weekends are supposed to be civilized haha.


Will you continue on in this profession?


I will definitely continue on in this. As of now I'd like to breed standard poodles and/or affenpinschers but who knows what the future holds.


What words of encouragement or advice to those wishing to get into Junior Handling would you offer?


For those interested in junior handling I would say give it a try, don't be afraid to ask questions and above all don't give up if it is really something you enjoy. For the first year I was in juniors I came dead last every time but I was persistent and look where it got me!


What are your plans for the summer?


During the summer I will be working with Allison but I've made it my "summer resolution" to go to the beach more, haha.


Can you speak about the moments just before you entered the ring at Crufts (I am getting goosebumps just asking you!)?


Oh my gosh. Before I entered the ring in the evening for the Final there was the fly ball championship going on in the arena and it was so incredibly loud (between the barking dogs and the HUGE crowd) that I was pacing back and forth almost shaking with anticipation because I discovered last year that all my nerves go away when I enter the ring. So I just really wanted to get in the ring because I was going crazy waiting. I kept saying to myself "just please have made the cut, if you made the cut you can do the best job under pressure, you can win in a showdown just PLEASE have made the cut." I also kept saying "actually just making the cut is a huge accomplishment. Top ten out of 45 countries is incredible."


Then finally we entered and all the nerves went away! I was well prepared and I knew it so I was less nervous than last year.


There were an entry of 46 countries for the 2014 competition, with Canada’s Colton receiving top honours. The competition is split into three parts, with the Juniors handling dogs they have only just met for the second part. The Judge (from Hungary this year) will then make a shortlist, with finalists returning for a third and last time.


Watch the video here:'Shea_Bicknell-144.asp


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