When he's not in the lab, Paul Fink is in the dog house, but there's nowhere he'd rather be. Breeding and showing champion Yorkshire Terriers is a passion for Paul, Owner of A Dental Creation in Vincennes, IN, and his wife, Barbara, who also works in the lab.
Longtime Yorkie lovers, the Finks have several show dogs and the demands of caring for and showing them keep the duo busy. To become a champion, show dogs must compete in numerous shows each year in order to accumulate points and, since shows are held across the country, the hobby requires a lot of weekend travel. Luckily, their small, two-person, home-based operation gives them the flexibility to plan their caseload accordingly and even work longer hours in a four-day workweek so they can travel on Fridays.
At the shows, the dogs are judged according to the individual breeds AKC standard—including appearance and gait—and showing dogs requires significant training and grooming. For an AKC Champion, like the Finks' Murphy Mac, the AKC standard includes coat length. Grooming consists of two hours a week for bathing and wrapping his hair in rice paper to avoid breakage, as well as daily maintenance to ensure his hair is protected. "Grooming is great one-on-one time," says Barbara. "It's a nice way to enjoy your dog."
One of the Finks' favorite aspects of their hobby is acting as the dogs' handler during the show and they spend several hours each week training their Yorkies and doing exercises to acclimate them to the noises and crowds of the show environment.
But Paul and Barbara consider their dogs members of the family first and show dogs second. For instance, when one of their champions had a litter of puppies but couldn't nurse them, the couple took turns bottle feeding the five newborns around the clock for three weeks. All five survived, including two soon-to-be show dogs, and just celebrated their second birthday.
"I can't imagine our life without a Yorkie in it," says Paul. "We plan to do this until we can't get down on the ground and work with them anymore!"