Hadley George, Junior Handler, Carries on the Family Tradition

Hadley George from Utica, Ohio, achieved success in the Junior Showmanship program at the age of 18. Her achievements in the dog-show community are remarkable, and she has a promising future ahead of her. Recognized as an AKC Breeder of Merit at only 15 years old, George placed third in the Junior Showmanship category at the 2022 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. As a third-generation owner, breeder, and handler, she is involved in managing the family business, Ripsnorter Kennel, which specializes in breeding German Wirehaired Pointers and Pudelpointers.

Continuing a Family Tradition

George began her journey in the show ring at the age of four, handling one of her family’s young dogs in a puppy match. Today, she participates in various dog sports such as Conformation, Rally, Obedience, and North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association (NAVHDA) hunt tests. While she enjoys the hunt tests, Conformation holds a special place in her heart because of her love for grooming, training, and presenting dogs.

She attributes her passion for showing dogs to her mother, Lisa George, and grandmother, Helen Witt. Both women have provided endless support and knowledge on breeding and handling dogs, shaping Hadley into the dog enthusiast she is today. Their honesty and dedication have influenced her greatly. George recognizes the importance of preserving the Ripsnorter legacy, emphasizing the significance of the history of their dogs and the people involved in the program. She believes that every puppy she helps produce plays a role in shaping the future of the breed and their kennel.

Competing in hunt tests is particularly suited for German Wirehaired Pointers and Pudelpointers, and George emphasizes the importance of maintaining the original purpose of these versatile breeds. She values the knowledge she has gained from her family about pedigrees, preservation breeding, and health testing, expressing her admiration for those who are committed to these practices in the sport.

A Passion for Dog Sports

George finds joy in seeing her hard work and bond with a dog come together in the show ring. Her greatest pride comes from watching a dog that she has trained, conditioned, and/or raised excel in competition. The hours of dedication she puts into her dogs never fail to bring a smile to her face.

One of George’s most memorable achievements was taking third place in Juniors at Westminster with Sage, an English Cocker Spaniel. Despite having only worked with Sage for a few months before the show, George, with the help of the dog’s owner, groomed, conditioned, and trained him for success. Competing at Westminster had been a dream of hers since childhood, making the experience incredibly meaningful.

Balancing Responsibilities

Aside from breeding dogs, George’s family also raises goats. In high school, she actively participated in 4H, the National FFA Organization, and the Ohio State Fair Junior Fair Board. Juggling her education, career, and social life posed a challenge, prompting George to enroll in an online school in ninth grade. This decision allowed her to dedicate more time to showing dogs, including traveling with professional handlers.

Hadley George and one of her family's dogs at a conformation event.
MacKenzie Knabel

Being self-motivated during this time was crucial for George. She dedicated herself to working with the dogs during the day and focusing on schoolwork at night. While it was a challenging period, George acknowledges the sacrifices she made, including distancing herself from friends. Currently studying business at Columbus State Community College, George is finding more balance in her life, with strong support for continuing her education and maintaining a social life outside of work and school.

Looking Ahead

For aspiring Juniors looking to get involved in dog sports or elevate their competition level, George’s advice is simple: hard work pays off. Regardless of the dog’s quality, apparel, or family connections, dedication and effort are essential for achieving goals. While George acknowledges the advantages of being a third-generation handler with mentors in her family, she emphasizes the importance of experienced handlers supporting young competitors. Sharing knowledge and offering guidance to Juniors can make a significant impact, encouraging growth and development in the sport.

Her experience as a Junior Handler has equipped her with valuable life lessons, teaching her to appreciate both victories and defeats. While wins bring joy and pride, losses and setbacks are opportunities for growth and improvement. George’s resilience and determination have been shaped by her experiences in the show ring, urging her to continue pushing forward and striving for excellence.

George plans to complete her business degree with the goal of becoming a professional handler. She aims to showcase her own dogs and uphold her family’s legacy of breeding versatile German Wirehaired Pointers.

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Hadley George, Junior Handler, Carries on the Family Tradition