Students gain experience, knowledge at AKC dog show

Becky Schulze

Rebecca Schulze, secretary of the Society for Theriogenology student club, with a Chihuahua puppy at the Space Coast Kennel Club dog show in Ocala on Nov. 7.

Twelve UF College of Veterinary Medicine students gained valuable knowledge and experience by participating in an American Kennel Club-sponsored dog show, specifically the Space Coast Kennel Club show, held outdoors in Ocala on Nov. 7.

All 12 students are members of the Society for Theriogenology student club, which aims to create interest in and enhance knowledge of theriogenology among veterinary students. Four club officers were among the group.

While at the show, the students were guided by Dr. Mary McDaniel, a UFCVM alumna. They met breeders and learned a lot about how breeding programs and dog shows operate. They came back energized and enthusiastic about all they saw and did.

“I loved my experience at the AKC dog show,” said Tenley Porcher, ’24. “My uncle, a 1991 UFCVM graduate, breeds Staffordshire Bull Terriers and has been showing them since before I was born. I love that aspect of veterinary medicine!”

Porcher said she had been interested in getting a Dalmation in the future but had always heard about health problems associated with the breed.

“It was such a pleasure to meet with Dalmatian breeders who take pride in what they do and make sure to breed healthy Dalmatians with great temperaments,” she said.

Griffyn Krause, ’24, said she gained a new appreciation for breeders, handlers and the dogs they raise.

“I’m excited to learn more and work with them in the future,” she said.

Getting an inside view of everything that goes into dog shows and learning about certain breeds from experts in the field was what was most meaningful to Rebecca Schulze, ’24, while Melonie Zuercher, ’22, said a key insight she gained was that the relationship between a veterinarian and a breeder “is really about being open to having a conversation, through active listening and mutual respect.”

“Both the breeder and the veterinarian have an opportunity to learn from each other and form a relationship based on trust,” Zuercher said.

Club president Natalie Santos, ’24, said she enjoyed the opportunity to have one-on-one conversations with different breeders, handlers, veterinarians, the show chairman and the AKC representative on- site.

“It was incredible seeing how passionate they are about the different breeds that walked around the show grounds, and I was able to learn about the importance of the veterinarian-breeder relationship,” she said.

Although it’s unclear if the club will be able to attend more dog shows for the remainder of the academic year due to exams and other activities, club members have been given a website for them to look up nearby dog shows and attend if they would like to, Santos said. They will also provide next year’s club officers with contact information for them to host another trip to a dog show in the fall.

“I believe our participating students truly had a good time during this activity,” Santos said. “We were provided with informational brochures and a schedule of that day’s show, and students were very eager to learn the whole time, asking many questions.”

In addition to meeting and gaining insights from McDaniel, the students met the show chairmen, Glenda Stephenson and Linda Rowell, along with AKC representative Mike Szabo, and everyone was very welcoming, Santos said.

In addition to Porcher, Krause, Schulze, Zuercher and Santos, club member attendees included Jessica Skinner, Sarah Kronz, Tasha Desiderio, Selina Rivera, Emilie Woltering, Cole Ferreira and Caryn Ford.



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