To Taylor Phillips, showing dogs "looked like fun." So when a friend of her grandmother's asked her to take a corgi into the ring, she agreed.
A year later, the 11-year-old is headed to Kalamazoo, Mich. after receiving an invitation to compete in the United Kennel Club's Annual Premier Show in June. Phillips was judged third best in a five-state region for showmanship skills for her age level.
Phillips, who turns 12 on March 20, started showing dogs last year when she accompanied her grandmother to dog shows.
"My grandma got a dog and started showing it. Then somebody asked me if I could show their corgi so I did," she said. "People just kept asking me since then."
Phillips, a sixth-grader at Main Street School, has now shown her boxer several times and he has earned his first championship point. But she's also learned to show other breeds as people brought different dogs to her.
"I've learned a lot about different breeds," she said. After she enjoyed her initial foray into the ring, Phillips took a course to learn more about handling and showing dogs. She completed the UKC Total Junior program.
"Even though it looks easy on TV, it is hard," she said. The pre-teen learned how to show different breeds in her course. "They show how to stack them put them into position. There is a difference between the breeds," she said, adding she's shown 11 breeds. She has participated in both UKC and American Kennel Club shows.
Phillips said she is glad her family owns an boxer, Jack, because she thinks they are the easiest to show.
"They can be funny, but they can be tough," she said. "Jack's a clown, but when he gets into the ring he's serious and there's a whole different side to him."
She said she has two collars for Jack and he realizes when she puts on his show collar that he's going to work. "It lets him know it is show time," Phillips said.
Her grandmother, Amanda Phillips, said Phillips' interest in showing dogs was sparked when she took her granddaughter along to a UKC show for her white German Shepherd.
"Taylor went with me to the shows and she got really hooked on it," Phillips said. "When you go to the UKC shows, they're very family-oriented. People often bring extra dogs and need people to show them."
She has taken her granddaughter to shows in Dayton, Chicago, Michigan, Indiana and Pennsylvania.
"She has been going to dog shows with me since I started participating in United Kennel Club events last year. She got the opportunity to help a few other people out showing their dogs and she then enrolled in the UKC Total Junior program," the proud grandmother said.
"She finished the year in third place in our region and has been invited to compete in the top junior competition in June," she added.
Rest assured when Phillips enters the ring this summer, her grandmother will be cheering her on from the sidelines.