With three dogs in tow, Vine Grove resident Debra Mattingly and her junior handler Anna Frandsen are heading to New York City to win.

Mattingly is showing two dogs at the annual Westminster Dog Show at Lyndhurst Estate, which is considered the most prestigious dog show in the country. Frandsen is showing her Chinese Shar-Pei, Henri, and Mattingly shows a French Bulldog, Magic, who is co-owned by Elizabethtown resident Stephianie Chilton, and a bulldog, Mickey.

Mattingly began dog shows after showing Watson, her French Bull­dog, in 2015. Since 2016, except for last year’s event which was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, she has continued to show dogs every year at Westminster.

In 2017, Mattingly said she began showing dogs for other people, which she said has been successful, now working full-time as a professional dog handler.

Mattingly said she now takes care of about 10 to 12 dogs at a time for clients from all over the country and in other countries such as Puerto Rico and Brazil.

“I had no intentions of becoming a professional handler ever, I just wanted to do something fun. And then I went in and I started winning, and then that gets a little addicting,” she said.

Frandsen said this is her first trip to the prestigious dog show and New York City. She said Henri is ranked No. 8 in the country and while she said it’s going to be hard to win, she’s confident for a good showing.

“I’ve always loved animals, and I kind of wanted to do something more than just riding horses and got more involved with dogs,” she said.

Fransden began taking handling lessons at different training schools and fell in love with the sport. Since going to her first dog show in St. Paul, Minnesota, she hasn’t stopped.

Frandsen suggested that youth looking to get into dog shows should start with a breed you love and stick with it.

Mattingly said this year, while the trip to New York usually is big endeavor, it’s nice that the show was moved to in June because of COVID-19 precautions. Westminster traditionally is in February, but the move to June allows for warmer weather so they can enjoy the sights of New York City, she said.

Frandsen said she’s looking forward to West­minster and seeing the Statue of Liberty.

Mattingly said they’re excited and hopeful for this weekend’s competition, and feel like their three dogs have a shot. Magic and Mickey are ranked in the top 10 for their breeds.

“We love dogs and the dogs love doing it. The dogs absolutely love it,” she said. “They love being groomed, they love the attention, they love winning. They know the difference between winning and losing..”

The breed rings will be live broadcast live Saturday and Sunday on westminsterkennelclub.org. Mattingly will show Mickey at 9 a.m. Saturday in ring 5 and Magic at 11:45 a.m. Saturday in ring 6. Fransden and Henri show at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in ring 8.

Coverage of the West­minster Kennel Club group judging – Best of Breed winners – will be telecast live from 7:30-11 p.m. on FS1 on Saturday and Fox on Sunday. Best in Show follows group judging on Sunday on Fox.

Andrew Harp can be reached at 270-505-1414 or aharp@thenewsenterprise.com.

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