It all started for us in 1980 when my mom, Margaret Bennett, purchased our first English Setters, littermates Missy (MBIS, MBISS, A/C Ch. Aliage’s Verigated Illusion) and Duster (MBISS A/C Ch. Aliage’s Classic Connection). Missy was our foundation, a multiple Best in Show and Best in Specialty winner, and the #1 ES in Canada in 1983. She produced several Canadian, American and Japanese champions in two litters. Duster was a multiple Best in Specialty Show winner – including the Minnesota English Setter Club 1984 specialty.
In addition to showing our English setters, I also showed dogs for other people, and had the fantastic opportunity to work with one of the best professional handlers at the time, Mark & Tad Dakin. As well, I had the extreme pleasure of working with one of the most inspiring dog people I have met to date, Sonny Tougas. I worked for Sonny and Bobby at their training school, Heatherlea Canine Academy, teaching people of all levels to train their dogs.
Like today, there wasn’t very many young “dudes” seen in the show ring. Despite the fact that I was usually the only boy in the ring, I had a very successful Junior Showmanship career, winning Top Junior Handler in Manitoba for three consecutive years, and the Martha Thorne Top Canadian Junior Handler two consecutive years.