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Women’s History Month Goes to the Dogs

Each March, Women’s History Month is celebrated as a way to shine the spotlight on important female accomplishments. At Atlantic K9, we have a special place in our hearts for the females within our own industry who have earned a place in the annals of history.

The Gravy Train

In the field of dog handling, several women have earned national and international acclaim—or at the very least, media success. Among them:

Anne Rogers Clark, co-author of The International Encyclopedia of Dogs and the first woman to win Best in Show at Westminster as a professional handler.

Temple Grandin, a Boston-born American Doctor of Animal Science, a professor at Colorado State University, a best-selling author, an autistic activist, a consultant to the livestock industry on animal behavior, and an engineer.

Libby Riddles holds the honor of being the first woman to win the grueling Iditarod dog sled race. She crossed the finish line in 1985. Eleven years earlier, Mary Shields went into the history books for being the first female to finish the race. Musher Susan Bucher is celebrated for holding four Iditarod wins—1986, 1987, 1988 and 1990 (only one other person has won more races than she).

Ally Zirkle

New Hampshire’s Ally Zirkle came in second place in the 2014 race, after a stellar performance that had her leading until a last-minute come-from-behind win by competitor Dallas Seavey. It was the second closest finish in Iditarod history.

Tamar Geller, developer of “the Loved Dog” method of dog training.

Victoria Stillwell, host of It’s Me or the Dog and judge on the CBS show Greatest American Dog.

Barbara Woodhouse, host of the BBC series Training Dogs the Woodhouse Way and author of No Bad Dogs and Dog Training My Way.

M. Christine Zink, veterinarian known for consulting and writing on canine athletics.

Wendy Volhard and her husband Jack are consummate dog people, internationally recognized for their contributions to training, health, and nutrition. In print, in films, and in the field, they have helped thousands of people to better enjoy the experience of dog ownership and thousands of dogs to live better lives.

Camilla Gray-Nelson, “The Dog Talk Diva” – Well-known author, trainer, and speaker on dog obedience.

Breeding Success

Women’s history in the breeding of champion dogs is a long and colorful one. In just this century, several women have earned acclaim for their roles in establishing and promoting various canine lines:

Iris De La Torre Bueno is famed for her top-winning All Celia Brussels Griffons.

Amanda West and French Bulldog
Amanda West

Amanda West not only kept the French bulldog breed in the public eye; she also set the bar for quality and ensured that the French bulldog remained a formidable contender in Group and BIS competition.

Esme Treen and her husband Alfred were well known as judges, officers of all-breed and specialty clubs, authors and breeders of Group and BIS-winning Pryor Creek Dalmatians for 34 years.

Star Power

Laika stamp

Laika – In the 1950s and 1960s, dozens of dogs were used as part of the Soviet space program and almost all of them were female. Many of the canines were used for sub-orbital journeys, but the first dog to actually launch into outer space was Laika, on Nov. 3, 1957. Today, a monument in her honor can be found in Moscow.

Lucky and Flo – These two female black Labs are highly regarded as the world’s anti-DVD piracy sniffers. The Motion Picture Association of America credits their special sniffing skill for saving billions of dollars in the movie industry.

Lassie – This famous canine heroine of print and screen captured the hearts of generations. Although her character as portrayed in novels and movies is decidedly female, male dogs were used for filming because of their larger, more “heroic” proportions, and also because male dogs shed less than females in the summer when most movies and TV shows were traditionally filmed. Female collies were not ignored because they are any less intelligent; in fact, some of Lassie’s stunt doubles have been females.

Nanette – Mate of the famous male Rin Tin Tin, Nanette gave birth to at least 48 pups, some of which were gifted to such luminaries as Greta Garbo, Jean Harlow, and W. K. Kellogg.

Lily – An abandoned Italian Greyhound who inspired Theresa Strader to found National Mill Dog Rescue in 2007. NMDR is an organization whose mission is to rescue, rehabilitate, and re-home discarded breeding dogs and to educate the general public about the cruel realities of the commercial dog breeding industry.

Do you have an inspiring story to tell about a female who deserves recognition on this page? We’d love to share it with our readers!


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