My Oh My Oh Maya
When is being considered a “select bitch” something to celebrate? When your Champion Bichon Frisé takes home the ribbon in that category at the mack daddy of all canine competitions, The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show!
“Daboyz” (my 2 goldendoodles) and I watch the prestigious event every year oohing and ahhing (and barking) at the beautifully coiffed and perfectly poised pooches. For the thousands of hopefuls, the odds of qualifying to enter the coveted competition (by invitation or by lottery) and then placing in any category are astronomical.
Nerve racking and exciting, having a dog compete at the iconic event has been a lifelong dream come true for Amanda Aaron, the striking redheaded Kentucky native who I met through Laura, a mutual dog aficionado. As we spoke, it became clear that this was no ordinary dog tale.
Back in high school, Amanda’s husband, Josh, introduced her to his family’s grooming “See Spot Grooming and Daycare” business. She knew instantly that these were to be her destiny (both Josh and the profession. She has immersed herself in just about every aspect of the dog world. Her passion and skills, coupled with an insatiable drive, have won her countless awards as a breeder of Bichons and as a groomer. With a stellar reputation and impeccable work ethic, Amanda continues to be on the cutting edge (pun intended) as an educator and industry leader. Upon the urging of several seasonal clients with ties to the Sarasota-Manatee area, she and Josh explored the area and felt the time was right for the family of five to relocate and expand the See Spot Brand. So they established two salons in East Manatee County – one in Lakewood Ranch and one in Parrish.
At the same time, up north in Connecticut, Joanna, “Joey” Rettler and her husband Tom decided that they were tired of the cold Connecticut winters and ready to follow their dreams. So they quit their jobs and moved to Bradenton. Tom could work towards getting his pilot’s license and Joey could concentrate on her photography. Life was good. They built their dream home, and their beloved Cockapoo, Daisy, would become a regular client of Amanda’s.
That’s how Amanda met Joey. As time went on, Joey and Amanda would develop a friendship that neither would have imagined.
Then tragedy struck when Joey’s husband Tom – the love of her life – was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. It became apparent his demise was imminent. Amanda helped to ease some of the burden. For six weeks, Amanda took Daisy into her home. Joey then lost her beloved Daisy just a few months later, leaving her already broken heart completely shattered.
Knowing how sad and lonely she was and not wanting to overwhelm her friend, Amanda presented Joey with a proposition to co-parent Amanda’s Bichon Frisé, Maya. This would be a perfect arrangement and give Joey a much-needed sense of purpose and companionship. It would give Maya a calm and loving environment between competitions to be with someone who is, by Amanda’s tough standards, the epitome of the perfect pet owner.
Maya, a natural in the ring, and her two moms traveled to Westminster where Amanda proudly was the handler, owner, breeder and groomer in the ring – which is extremely rare.
With an increasingly demanding schedule, as well has having several other show dogs, Amanda realizes that she has taken Maya as far as she can. Both women know that Maya has the potential to go all the way and win best-in-breed or even best-in-show at next year’s Westminster competition. As bittersweet as it may be, they have elected to seek the expertise of a seasoned professional handler in California who can travel and enter Maya in competitions all across the country. Plans are already in place for Joey to take care of another ball of fluff while Maya is on tour.
Daboyz and I wish Maya all the luck in the world and we will certainly be watching the next Westminster Dog Show. Thanks to Laura who was spot on when she told me about Maya!
For more information on Amanda and her business go to the website.
Photos from Sheri Nadelman and Joey Rettler