In the rolling hills of Wimberley, dog trainer Sharon Rives has raised generations of show dogs. This week, two of her Australian shepherds will be in the 141st Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York City.
Rives is no newcomer to dog training — she grew up watching her parents raise and train Bullmastiffs. At just 4 years old, she raised, trained and won points with her Chihuahua, Ruby.
Although this veteran dog trainer is no stranger to Westminster or racking up points at these shows, she says winning isn’t the most important part of going. For Rives, the best part of the experience is building the relationship with her animals, who she says are some of her best friends.
“I love the human-animal interaction, I love the companionship and the bond that you get when you train a dog, the feeling of accomplishment when they learn something new,” she says. “And it’s really teamwork between you and the dog.”
No matter the outcome at the end of this two-day event, Rives says she and her dogs will come home happy.
“To me, it’s not as much about winning as it is just going and getting to experience it,” Rives says. “Win, lose or draw, I feel like I’m bringing home the best dog in the whole world.”