Owner and handler Debra Allen leads Shandon’s The Magic of Macy around a park Friday afternoon. (Jill McLaughlin Photo)
Some judges go for pretty. Some go for a special look. Debra Allen hopes “Macy’s” smooth moves will catch their eye.
“What is awesome about her is her gait. She just flows,” Allen said. “She can herd cattle all day long.”
With her hands clasping a thick book filled with photos of her champion Australian Shepherd, Allen described the characteristics that have carried Macy into a select national winner’s circle that has given them both a chance to compete in Orlando, Fla.
The American Kennel Club ranked Macy, officially named “Shandon’s The Magic of Macy,” in October the No. 4 owner-handled Australian Shepherd in the nation.
The top 10 ranked dogs in each breed are invited to compete at the AKC National Owner Handled Series, in conjunction with the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship Dec. 13.
“To me, the dream come true would be to go,” Allen said. “Anything that happens when I’m there, is a plus.”
Typically, owners who compete nationally hire a handler. Though it’s difficult, Allen does all the work herself. Her children are grown and have moved away to pursue careers after college, giving her a chance to get back into showing dogs as a hobby.
A year ago, Allen was asked by a breeder in Lubbock to try Macy out. In the ‘70s, she had Great Danes and won a few times, but didn’t go far, she said. So, she gave the shepherd a chance.
“I fell in love with her right away,” she said. “I entered her in the puppy show and she just hit it off. She seems to like doing it. The dog does so well, she shows herself.”
Unpacking her leashes Friday afternoon from her car, Macy eagerly clung to her side as she closed the hatch. Her license plate read, “DOGLOVR.”
Once on the grass, it was all business and Allen lead Macy around, practicing movements and the perfect stance. Macy broke away every so often from her serious poses to sneak kisses, but she was dog-tired after all.
Allen started working with Macy when she was 10 weeks old. She had to be leash trained on a special grooming table, then learn to stand up and pose.
“She loves to show,” Allen said. “She’s magical. She just gets out there and struts her stuff.”
Allen usually only attends shows within driving distance. She saves a little money each month and puts it away for the events, she said. But after learning recently about Macy’s chance to go to the national competition, she is trying to figure out how to come up with $1,200 to compete.
“That’s a long way to go on limited expenses,” Allen said.
Allen has a friend in Texas with a dog who placed No. 5. They will share expenses, but she has to pay for entry fees, grooming space fees and other incidentals.
“I’m trying to do my end, so we can go,” Allen said. “I just thought maybe I should really try to do this. I don’t know when I will get the opportunity to do this again.”
Allen is looking for sponsors to help with the trip. Anyone who is interested in sponsoring Allen can email her at email@example.com.