August 20, 2007

Following her heart to the show ring

By Kelsey Linden
Staff Writer

Each time Delano’s Joy Stoeckmann steps into the show ring with her playful white German shepherd, Millie, a burst of excitement fills her lungs as she takes one step closer to her dream.

Alongside her mother, Annie, Joy has been showing Millie in United Kennel Club (UKC) shows around Minnesota for the past several months.

Originally, the Stoeckmanns had a Husky named Misty, whom they had adopted. However, Misty was very old, and the family was terribly torn to have to put her down. They had only been able to share a year and a half with Misty, but it was one of the best times of their lives.

“It just killed us,” said Annie. “We loved her. She was the best dog.”

Eager to find another dog like Misty, Annie and Joy both searched online. Then finally, the answer to their prayers came.

“We came upon a site with the white German shepherds, and we knew that was it,” said Annie. “We met the breeder and just fell in love with the couple that breeds the dogs.”

Breeders Donna and Mike Beadle are very professional and careful with each dogs’ pedigree, she said.

In the American Kennel Club (AKC), white German shepherds are considered faults due to the color of their coat.

However, Beadle and Stoeckmann both believe that they are the same impressive dogs, regardless of the color of their fur.

Typically, German shepherds have brown and black short coats, but Stoeckmann agrees with Beadle in recognizing these dogs, and trying to get the word out that they are actually part of the breed.

“These dogs are a breed and they are not a fault,” Annie said. “They’re beautiful, wonderful dogs and I’m kind of excited for people to see that these dogs actually exist.”

Annie and Joy both love white animals. Along with Millie, they also have a white cat. It was, in fact, the color and playful stamina that the dogs possess that drew Annie and Joy in from the start.

Joy and Annie both love animals, but it is Joy who looks to pursue a career as a veterinarian in the future. In her spare time, she does whatever she can to be close to animals.

After watching their breeders show the white German shepherds in the ring, Joy became intrigued with the idea and tried it herself. Each moment with Millie was pure excitement.

“Since the day she was born, she’s wanted to be a vet,” Annie said of her daughter. “She hasn’t changed her mind yet.”

Joy and Annie have been to shows in Lakeville, Minneapolis, and Stillwater. Millie earned a 3- point major towards her championship title at the Lakeville show of the White German Shepherd Dog Club of America July 28.

Sitting on the sidelines watching her daughter, Annie vividly remembered, “She competed against some high ribbon dogs, and it surprised and delighted everyone that Millie won.”

Annie also complimented the people in the UKC organization by saying, “There are very laid back people at the shows. It’s very relaxed. Everybody knows each other and everybody likes each other.”

When asked how she felt about the show, Joy said, “It’s fun. The last show, she was showing against her sister. It’s kind of challenging to keep them calm, but it’s nice when the judges come up to you and say what they like about them.”

For Annie, seeing her daughter in the ring is fun. “I’m so proud of her. She’s knows what she’s doing and it’s a confidence builder. I can see her maturing and gaining confidence and it’s incredible. I don’t care if they win or lose, that makes no difference to me, because she’s a winner no matter what. We’re having fun together and I like that.”

Winning is fun, but it’s not easy and it takes a lot of work and dedication.

Because Millie is still in the puppy stage, she can get quite rambunctious, even in the ring. At times, this can be frustrating for Joy, but she has learned how to control Millie and keep her calm.

“She was quite a challenge in the first month. She was an interesting dog,” Annie said. “We were so used to Misty that the puppy idea almost threw us for a loop.”

As soon as Millie completes her championship and grows out of the puppy stage, the Stoeckmanns hope to have a litter of puppies.

Joy just graduated from St. Peter’s School and will be entering seventh grade this year at the Delano Middle School. Along with showing dogs, Joy also plays basketball, babysits, volunteers at Cherub Corner (where Annie works), and also walks dogs for some extra cash on the side.

“I think that they’re really good companions,” Joy said of her dog. “They listen to you. Just go out and do it. It’s a lot fun and you will make so many friends.”

Millie is one of Joy’s many friends. However, the most inspirational person in her life is her mother.

“Whatever I want to do, she encourages me to do that,” Joy said.

“It’s such a wholesome activity,” Annie said. “With her getting into her teenage years, it’s nice to have her involved in something that’s wholesome. We just want to have fun. It’s supposed to be fun.”

Millie’s registered name is ‘One in a Million’ and she certainly is that to both Annie and Joy, as she has provided the family with something everyone in life needs – a loyal companion and friend.

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