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From the 2017 Files: Rausch Set to Compete in AKC Championship Dog Show (2018-08-02)
Written by: Holli Seehafer

Paula Rausch of Big Stone City and her dog, Theo, an Irish setter, are headed to Orlando, FL, where they will compete in the American Kennel Club (AKC) national owner-handler series championship December 16-17.

The owner-handler series recognizes and showcases quality dogs based solely on the quality of the entry while the handling ability is not considered. The best owner-handler will be chosen following the best of breed competition.

Entrants in the national competition must qualify at various dog shows throughout the year. The top 10 ranked dogs (plus ties) for each individual breed are invited to compete at the national event. Rausch and Theo earned 340 points during competition from October 13, 2016, through October, 11, 2o17, and were ranked fifth in the standings.

Rausch became intrigued with dog showing when her daughters participated in the Grant County 4-H dog project with the family's schnauzer dog.

Rausch began her career in 2003, working with her first dog, Hogan, who she obtained from Windwood Irish Setters in Staples, MN. Since then she has increased her level of competition. "I turn 60 this year, so I figured if this was something I was going to do, this was the year as Theo is in his prime," said Rausch. "I'm also planning on going to Ohio for the Irish Setters National Championship show in June."

Rausch's decision to work with Irish setters was a well thought out one. "When I decided I wanted to pursue dog showing, I had thought of all the breeds of dogs I've always wanted or liked. At first, of course, I wanted a labrador retriever but after I realized how many breeders and owners there were I continued on with my search," said Rausch. "Irish setters came to my attention as they are visually such beautiful dogs and you don't see them very often."

Rausch's dog breeder had a dog handler who taught Rausch everything she needed to know about showing Irish setters. "Although I learned a lot from the handler, I also learned a lot going to shows and listening to other handlers and owners," she revealed.

Theo was born in 2005 and Rausch began taking him to shows in the summer of 2006, as dogs can be shown as young as six months old. "I practiced in my backyard and bought a large mirror to practice stacking, so I could see how we looked," said Rausch.

According to Rausch, Irish setters are high maintenance with much time spent grooming them. "My dogs get baths once a week, daily brushing to get the undercoat out which keeps their coats shiny and sleek, and trimming of their ears and neck while keeping their whiskers long," she said.

Currently Rausch owns three Irish setters: Theo, Castle and Jet. "They are a wonderful breed and are great family dogs and I have never once regretted choosing Irish setters," Rausch noted. "Theo by far has been the best breed standard dog I have owned. I just have had so much fun doing this. Maybe after this year I will go after another bucket list item."

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