Interview with Junior Handler: Monica Bonifacio
Interviewed by Jovana Danilovic
BIS: Dear Monica, thank you very much for taking the time to give this interview to us. You have been winning a lot and a lot has to be mentioned to this end, but let’s start from the beginning. When did you get involved in the dog world?
M.B.: I’ve always loved dogs since I was a little girl. My first dog was a Yorkshire Terrier called Maxine. My dad took me to a dog show when I was 11 years old and it all started then.
I began attending dog shows with my biggest love, a Dachshund, but later I also felt in love with Schnauzers. We first started with a Standard Salt and Pepper Schnauzer from Italy, but as we were getting fond of the Giant Schnauzer and its characteristics we went on importing a bitch from Russia. At that stage, I realized that this is the breed for me.
Iím currently breeding Giant Schnauzers with my dad and I hope to achieve good results with our homebred dogs.
BIS: When did you decide to try Junior Handling? Do you remember your first JH competition and was it successful?
M.B.: When I started going to dog shows, I thought that Junior Handling could be a great way to get involved in the canine world, learn to show different breeds and make new friends too.
My first JH competition was in Verona International Show, Italy in December 2009. I was 11 and I got a 3rd place showing my Dachshund.
I was very happy of our result as it was my very first time in a ring.
BIS: Which JH win is your greatest win and why?
M.B.: I think my World Dog Show Junior Handling win is my greatest achievement ever in my junior handling career. It has always been my dream to win such a big competition and I was even more excited for making it through the daily qualifications, never had I thought I could accomplish that. It was such a high-level competition and I had to work really hard, even with the dog I handled, a young 11-month-old Bullmastiff. In the end, we made it.
BIS: You do also handle dogs beside JH. Please tell us which win you consider your biggest win in the show ring and why?
M.B.: My greatest result was winning Best Of Breed at Crufts 2012 with my first Giant Schnauzer, Gloris Santa Barbara. I was only 14 and I was handling my own dog at such a prestigious show, it was unexpected. What an amazing feeling running on the green carpet with my own dog.
However, it is always great to win with your homebred dogs.
BIS: In your opinion, is there a breed that could be considered as the ìeasiestî breed for Junior Handling competitions? Which breed would it be and why?
M.B.: I donít think so. Every breed can be easy if the dog is well trained or you are comfortable with it. On the other hand, every breed has something special to take account of.
BIS: I do love to watch Junior Handling at big shows such as Crufts, WDS or EDS. This year when watching the finals in Helsinki, I could not help thinking that only few of you had that real touch and connection with the dogs handled. A lot of Junior Handlers were doing it all ìby the rulesî and they were looking like robots. In your opinion, how can they change their way of handling?
M.B.: Every Junior Handler has to follow the main rules but they have to show the dog too, according to its breed standard. Therefore, each breed needs showing differently, you canít handle all breeds the same way. I think it is also important for Juniors not to show themselves because Junior Handling is in primis about showing THE DOG.
BIS: What was your feeling when they brought 5 Poodles to you? Was it a challenge?
M.B.: I believe that most of the time showing a dog that you have never met before is a challenge, in these moments you can see if there is chemistry between the JH and the dog. When they brought the Poodles to me, I was fine because swapping dogs is a good parameter to judge if a Junior can handle different breeds and not just his own dog.
BIS: What was your feeling and what ran through your head after Mr. Juha Palosaari named you as the winner?
M.B.: I canít describe the feeling I had that very moment, but it was overwhelming, everything I had ever dreamt of. My mind was in a mess, I couldnít understand whether it was real or not. My first reaction was to thank my dog: I hugged him and then we went for our lap of honor to the podium. The thrill was so uncontrollable that I couldnít hold my tears and I was still crying after the competition was over,
I still could not believe it!
BIS: In handling, is there someone you can call your mentor?
M.B.: Yes, there is. My mentor is Richard Hellman, he taught me how to achieve my goals and the importance of being humble, honest and respectful. He is the living example that humility can lead you to success.
From him I learned how real handling is supposed to be, without him I would have achieved none of this.
I think he could be an example or an idol to many Juniors. I really hope I can be as successful in the future.
BIS: Is there someone you admire and whose skills you would like to have one day?
M.B.: There is one person I particularly admire: Adrien Ferry. He gave his life for what he loved the most: dogs. Not even for a moment did he hesitate to save his dogsí lives, not even at the expense of his own sake! His act expresses the true meaning of this passion: loving and caring of dogs. Apart from that, there isnít anyone in particular whose skills I really admire. There are several handlers who inspire me through their way of
BIS: I have to ask, do you have some plans for the future? Would you like to be a Professional Handler or are there other paths you would like to walk?
M.B.: The dog world is definitely my world, Iíd like to be a Professional Handler one day as well as a great breeder. My dream would be to become a judge in the distant futureÖ But I think school is important too. Iíd like to study Veterinary Medicine at University as it would be helpful when breeding, I would be surrounded by dogs all the time and I could help other dog lovers.
BIS: Is there any breed you would like to have one day?
M.B.: I do love sheepdogs, especially Australian Shepherds and Border Collies. I hope to have one of them sleeping on my bed very soon.
BIS: Do you recall any funny episode or story you would like to share with us?
M.B.: Oh yes! One day, my dad stepped into the kitchen and told me: ìThereís a dead chicken in our garden, did you know that? He must have jumped over the fence and one of the dogs killed him.î So I went to check it out and I started laughing. Then I came back to the kitchen and told my dad: ìDaddy, the dead body youíve seen wasnít a real chickenÖ it was a dog toy, just torn into pieces.î Poor dad, we are still laughing at this episode.