Rise to the Top: Katie Shepherd Bernardin and Giant Schnauzer "Ty"
Katie Shepherd Bernardin is the handler of Ty, the Giant Schnauzer in a ridiculously tight competition for number one dog of all breeds.
At the tender age of 31, Katie stands as one of the youngest handlers to run this grueling race.
And, in the midst of this hectic, busy, insane year, Katie married Adam Bernardin in September. Just in case she wasn’t crazy enough...
Living and loving on the way to number one…
Katie is the poster child for raised in the sport. She started attending shows with her grandmother (while still in a stroller!). Her gramma bred miniature schnauzers and Katie remembers standing on a stool to help dry and chalk the dogs for the ring. She showed her first dog at age seven and hasn’t looked back.
After years spent working for professional handlers, including Lori Wilson-Paust and Andrew Doyle, Katie says showing a working dog (versus sporting dogs and sighthounds) has been a significant challenge.
But, always learning is her mantra.
“You can’t stop learning,” Katie said. “I learn something every day. From Adam, from Lori, from Angie Lloyd. I can always call and ask a question.”
To Be Number One, Seek Mentorship
Katie's strongest recommendation to young people coming up in the sport is to seek mentorship.
“You have to love your job,” Katie said. “You have to do it with a passion. You sacrifice your own life to make sure the dogs always come first. You take care of the dogs. But you have to *learn* to take care of dogs.”
Katie’s best recommendation for anyone in the sport, “Go watch a different breed. Watch how the handlers put their hands on dogs. You need to build a bond with a dog. Go work for a handler. It’s a very hard life. You need to learn that it’s a whole lot more than showing up at the dog show with your dog.”
Know Your Breed and Be Prepared
She adds that she has dealt for years with the potential for bloat. “You need to know the breed you’re carrying. The more you know, the more you prepare yourself, the more confident, the more you won’t panic in a situation. Be confident and know what you’re doing. Knowledge gives you confidence and confidence kills panic.”
Ty the Giant Schnauzer
In a complete switch from most top dogs, Ty goes home between dog shows . Katie said he needs downtime. “He’s a thieving monster,” Katie said. “He steals steaks off the counter. He’s the ultimate “dog is a dog”.”
Katie’s positive suggestions for continuing to move toward the never stop learning motto include: That we have intelligent conversations. That we be involved. That we work hard. That you never stop trying your best.
Katie Bernardin"s Best Tip
Her best tip? “Think of someone you really admire in the sport, and imagine they’re always looking over your shoulder. Act like they are always watching.”
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