Snohomish teen will be part of America's biggest dog show
SNOHOMISH - Anna Pearson, 18, is no stranger to the dog show circuit.
She showed her first dog as a 2-year-old, and she will soon hit a career milestone by making her first appearance as a dog handler at what the dog world calls “the big show”: the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in Madison Square Garden on Feb. 10 and 11.
Pearson will show her dog, an Australian Shepherd named Promise, and another owner’s dog, a Chinook named Oscar. The Chinook dog breed is the newest in the American Kennel Club, and Oscar will be one of four featured at Westminster for the first time. Pearson was one of seven Junior handlers to be invited to Westminster.
The “dog world” has been the norm for the family for the past 39 years. Anna’s mother Toni Pearson began raising and training Australian Shepherds in 1975 after witnessing the breed’s versatility in general work and obedience.
The Pearsons own and operate Snohomish-based Timberwood Australian Shepherds, where they offer services in training, breeding and professional handling.
Anna’s older sister, Laura, 20, also competes in dog handling and is considered a professional since she handles for other dog owners. Toni is a breed judge for the Aussie breed, and judges two to three times a year for the Australian Shepherd Club of America.
“I think since I’ve grown up in it, it’s kind of the norm, but I also like it because I’m a really competitive person. Really competitive,” Anna said. “It’s kind of fun to be competitive all year round, and especially in Junior showmanship, because it’s really about you and your teamwork with your dog.”
Anna Pearson and her Australian Shepherd named Promise
When Anna isn’t involved with dog handling (she works for a professional dog handler on the side), she goes to class at Cascadia Community College and works part-time at a local Macy’s store. She also is active in her 4-H Club as its vice president. She shows dogs at the Evergreen State Fair each year.
Undoubtedly, she is a busy girl.
When asked what drives her, what makes her passionate about not only dogs, but everything else she has going on, she simply said, “earning money to put myself through school and pay dog show entry fees, because they are not cheap. My life kind of revolves around dog shows right now. Dog shows and school.”
Anna said all of her experience in the dog world has helped her stay focused on her goals and to work hard. Anna wants to study political science and eventually go to law school.
She said she feels she has an elevated sense of maturity because of dog training and holding down multiple jobs.
“Dog showing is a lot of work,” said Toni Pearson. “I don’t think people realize how much work goes into it, it’s more than just the two minutes in the ring. It’s all the prep work, all the classes, the training. Both my girls have instructed dog handling, so I think they’ve got a well-rounded versatility of the dog world itself.”
All that training will soon come to full fruition with Anna’s appearance with both Promise and Oscar at Westminster.
In the weeks leading up to the big show, Anna exercised and trained the dogs in order to condition them for the show. Anna will show Promise as a Junior handler. She will handle Oscar in the breed category. After this show, Anna will be considered a professional handler and could accept handing jobs from clients.
Anna just hopes to represent both her family and her town well.
A 2013 Snohomish High graduate, she still holds fast to some of the educational values she picked up from key figures that still influence her now.
She said her government teacher, Tuck Gionet, was and has been a major inspiration to her on both her dog showing and in continuing her education. Gionet made a donation to Anna’s dog show fundraiser and was always interested in Anna’s job and travels as a Junior handler.
“He was always asking me, ‘Have you qualified yet?’,” Anna said.
As Anna prepares to make the trip to New York City, she hopes to continue to make others, as well as herself, proud. Her journey in the dog world may be far from over.
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