LHS senior sweeps dog competitions around the country


Gina Orlandi, Feature Editor

Senior Katherine Menches is a dog-lover who has been putting her passion to use in dog shows all over the country since she was 10 years old. She competes in about 48 competitions most weekends of the year with great success. In fact, she was recently ranked second in the world for her age group in a national competition.

With some influence from her mom who has been doing dog shows for years, Katherine was inspired give it a try too.

“My mom always wanted an Australian Shepherd to do performances with,” recalls Katherine. “We met a woman that wanted to give us a show quality Aussie. And that’s where it took off.”

This dog, Luke, was the first show dog of many. Katherine owns ten dogs for competitions, six of which live with her, and they are all Australian Shepherds ranging from 9 years old to four months.

“Judges are supposed to judge dogs on their breed standard. We compete in mostly conformation shows, which are dog shows, and now we are dabbling in herding, or stock dog events.”

One of her standout performers, Moose, is only three years old and a “Best in Show” winner in Canada. Houston, who is three years old, has won “Best in Show” on live television during Thanksgiving back in 2007.

Katherine just returned from another big competition in Colorado, ASAC, which stands for the Australian Shepherd Club of America.

According to the ASCA website, “The purpose of the ASCA Stockdog Program is to preserve and promote the instinct of the Australian Shepherd to be a versatile stockdog, showcasing the natural working ability of the breed through the use of certification programs for challenging trialing disciplines on several classes of stock.”

Travelling across the United States for this competition proved successful for Katherine.

“This was my second time going to Colorado for ASCA nationals,” says Katherine. “I went there back in 2009, but it wasn’t as serious as this year’s. This trip was worth it. I showed a dog named Aria. She won the Conformation Finals, Best of Breed at one of the pre shows, and premiered at two thirds of the shows she showed at. As a junior I was ranked number two in ASCA over juniors all across the world.”

While away she also witnessed some of the effects of the recent Colorado flooding and got close to seeing the Vice President of the United States.

“The show grounds that we were at were also acting as a shelter for the flood victims. On Monday, I remember being in the ring and watching people with cameras running through the building I was in. They were trying to get to the building that the Vice President was in. I couldn’t believe that Joe Biden was that close to me.”

This recent trip to Colorado isn’t out of the ordinary for Katherine. With dog competitions, traveling has become part of her lifestyle.

“Showing dogs had truly changed my life. I have so many opportunities to travel the world now. I’ve been to all of the states in New England, Mississippi, Wisconsin, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, California, Texas, Florida, Indiana, Missouri and some territories in Canada. A woman out in New Zealand offered me to stay with her if I was ever to go out there. I might after high school ends.”

Katherine’s opportunities to travel demonstrate how much time and effort goes into gaining them.

“Dogs that are campaigned get bathed two days a week every week, even if they’re not being shown,” says Katherine. “They also get exercised every day so they are in good shape.”

In addition to these basics, before the first day of a show Katherine is always busy preparing for the competition.

“I bathe all the dogs that are going to be shown. After, they get blow dryed, brushed and trimmed. That usually take about 1-3 hours depending on how coated the dog is. Then when we are at the show they get groomed thirty minutes before ring time.”

After high school Katherine plans on continuing to compete.

“I’ve talked about this with my mother and we agree that I should definitely continue to do this during college. I could do it part time over the weekend. It could definitely be a career, but I would like to go to college.”