Mrs. Stearn-Leaphart is a special ed aide at Millbrook High School, but there is a whole different side to her that students don’t know; she is also a dog show competitor. In her free time, Mrs. Stearn-Leaphart trains her dogs to become award-winning performers. She started showing her Great Danes in 1993. She begins training her dogs at four weeks old to prepare them for success. They are all well trained and crate trained as well. “It’s my passion and my hobby, I just really love it.” she said. In total, she has six Great Danes that have competed and/or modeled for television commercials like Honey Nut Cheerios and Banana Republic.
On Saturday, February 13th, her dogs performed at The Westminster Kennel Club in New York, The Westminster is the Super Bowl of dog shows and is the second longest sporting event. Stearn-Leaphart commented “When you’re at these shows you have to wear sparkles and bling. I had the earrings, the necklace, and my sparkly shirt. I was covered in bling because this is Westminster.” To become a champion in Westminster, the dog and their owner have to earn fifteen points total for their performance. She prepared her dogs by teaching them voice commands and jogging around the ring with them to show them off.
At the end of the day, she came back with a 1st place ribbon in the Class, Breed, and Handling category. She was also awarded the Award of Merit which is an additional award made to outstanding entries that are not judged. Each contestant creates their own standard, which are names made for each dog for their physical appearance, movements or temperament. Some standards are personal to the owner. Mrs.Stearn-Leaphart previously lived in Hawaii before her husband’s job brought her to Winchester. Because of her previous home and love for her dogs, she includes the name Ohana, meaning hello and family, in all of her standards. Stearn-Leaphart created a very unique standard Ohana’s Lne I’M Feelin’ Like A Million Bucks for her dog Trump.
New York Fashion Week was also going on so Mrs.Stearn-Leaphart and her dogs stopped for a photo shoot on the way home. Stearn- Leaphart stated, “We stay pretty busy, this is what I do outside of work. All the time I’m either at a dog show or doing something with them.” She’s very dedicated to her dogs, but she’s also very dedicated to her students here at Millbrook.
Written by Inginio Villatoro and Ashley McManamay