I understand that Helga is your 1st Great Dane is that right?

Helga is my first Show Dane. I had a Black Dane who lived to be 14 years old quite a few years ago. I currently have 2 fawn champions at home including Helga. I purchased (Helga), BISS Ch Shady Creeks Sister Golden Hair, AOM at 9 weeks old in November 2004. I purchased (Liam), Ch M&M’s BigTyme National Treasure V Charm in December 2004 at 9 Weeks old. Liam is my current Special. I was very fortunate to find such beautiful Great Danes for my first show Danes. Helga won her first BOB at 12 Months old over specials two days after she finished her Championship. Liam won his first BOB over specials at 9 Months old. I have been spoiled with these two beautiful dogs. These two are the foundation of Von Charm Kennel

1 Helga 02132005 GDC of Raritan Valley Best in Sweeps Prof
Helga GDC of Raritan Valley Best in Sweeps

1aLiam 05012005 BISS GDC of Lehigh Valley
Liam BISS GDC of Lehigh Valley

 Have you ever trained any other animals? 

Other than training parakeets, cat’s, ferrets and some dogs (Pets) for puppy kindergarten and minor obedience training the answer is no. Helga and Liam are my first show Great Danes.

Helga Ingham County KC Group 2

Did you attend handling classes. If yes how often and did you practice out of class?

Yes, I attended a lot of handling classes. I started them at 12 weeks old.  It was just Helga at first once or twice a week on and off. Then I added Liam later dividing the class in between them. I would take one in the first half an hour then bring the other in the second half an hour. I also worked with them at home. They both went to the basics like Puppy kindergarten. There is a lady down the road that breeds German Shepard’s. She has many types of dog training. She has a pool for therapy and training, etc. They attended class with German Shepard’s. It was a lot of work getting the puppies and myself ready for the ring. 

You really do need a Great Dane instructor/mentor as well as confirmation classes. As you know the other breeds are not set up the same way Great Danes are. It took me along time to grasp exactly how to stack, clean up the neck, hold the head just so, make sure the hocks are straight up, make sure they haven’t sucked their lip in, carry a slobber cloth, pull the head up….etc. These things for the most part were not explained in any detail in all breed confirmation classes. These classes prepared the dogs and I for the ring exposure and some things to expect in the ring but learning how to show a Dane in specific took time and some wonderful mentors. 

I also found that my two were complete opposites in the ring. One was out going and loves showing. He would actually take his head and give it a big swing like a horse to jerk me forward into the ring while waiting outside to go in. I have to channel his energy. He thinks the ring is Romper Room. The other took some entertaining to enjoy the ring more. She also showed differently depending on the weather. She loves windy cool days. Then I just stand back and smile while she shows herself.

Helga Genessee KC Group 1

Was there any one particular handler that you tried to emulate? 

No. Honestly I was just trying to do it right without making a complete fool of myself. There is nothing like learning with puppies. Much later after my husband (not ringside much) noticed things from outside the ring that I didn’t see because I was always inside the ring…..this was by the time they where finished and in the breed ring…..I picked up on some techniques from some handlers and then you sort of go your own direction (absorbing their techniques and revising to what you are comfortable with…making it you) after learning what others do. I believe it also depends on how the dog may or may not present them self and on what mood the dog is in that day or should I say moment. LOL. 

Helga National AOM

What sort of techniques did you use? (stand in front of mirror, read books, videotape yourself handling)

I did try a mirror some. It does help. I found after a while if your dog will stand still after you set them up then standing back you can see them. You can see the head without standing back so far. However if you have a dog that won’t stand still after you let loose the head then a mirror would be helpful. I never video taped myself but often thought about it. It is a good idea. I have read some books. They are helpful too.

Mentors are the best to learn from for a particular breed. They also see you in the ring and can pick up something you don’t know you are doing or could do better. So you can be more aware for the next time. I can’t think of a single mentor that actually does everything the same as another handler. Every dog is different too. So you may need to present him/her differently. I have made many phone calls to some wonderful mentors. There are things that come up your dog is doing something different. 

The Confirmation classes are great tools that prepare you and the dog for ring experience. This is all just my opinion and what worked for me. I am still a work in progress. I learn something new all the time.

Helga Genesee Valley Group 2

In case people don’t know, can you tell us about Helga’s and your accomplishments to date?

As a puppy Helga excelled in many Best In Sweepstakes, Best Puppy and Puppy Group wins,with her first Best in Sweepstakes win at 5 Months old at the Great Dane Club of Raritan Valley under Judge Barbara Delane. (Liam, 4 Months old won best Male that same day and competed against Helga for Best Puppy in Sweepstakes.) That was our first real experience in the ring other than confirmation classes. I really got nervous when I needed someone else to take one of them into the ring for me. A very nice gentleman took Liam back in for me (Humberto Cruz). He also showed me how to clean up a dane neck. Confirmation classes do not always teach you specifics about your breed. I attended different places for confirmation classes in the area. Someone came up to me and asked if I wanted pictures after the show…..I looked at my Rottie friend (Jenn) and she said YES! She brought me there only to give me some ring experience.

Then at 7 Months old in one weekend Helga was awarded her first points, both her 4 point Majors on a Friday at the Great Dane Club of Raritan Valley (Judge Betty Lewis) and the Sunday at the Trenton Kennel Club (Judge Bill Stebbins) What an awesome weekend!

She finished her Championship at 12 Months old under Judge Mr. Kenneth Buxton at the Warrenton Kennel Club Dog show. I could hardly keep my feet on the ground with excitement.

Helga’s Record

AKC #4 Great Dane 2007 in Breed
AKC #8 All Breed Great Dane 2007
AKC #15 Great Dane 2006 in Breed
AKC #14 All Breed Great Dane 2006
*Top 20 Placing 2006-2007*
*2007 Westminster Best of Opposite Sex Winner*, Judge Mr. Donald M. Booxbaum
*2007 Great Dane Club of America National 2nd AOM Winner*, Judge Mr. Lowell K. Davis
*4 Group 1 Wins
*4 Group 2 Placements
*1 Group 3 Placement
*3 Group 4 Placements

Plus 10 Best in Specialty Show Wins

1.) Great Dane Club of Michigan – Judge Mrs. Auli Vitikainen, 9/30/06
2.) Great Dane Club of Western Pennsylvania – Judge Mrs. Gina Jaeblon, 5/24/07
3.) Great Dane Club of Lehigh Valley – Judge Mrs. Judith Ann Smith, 4/29/07
4.) Wolverine Great Dane Club of Western Michigan – Judge Mrs. Linda L. Ridder, 5/26/07
5.) Heart of Ohio Great Dane Club – Judge Mr. Wayne G. Peterson, 6/22/07
6.) Heart of Ohio Great Dane Club – Judge Mrs. Sharon Hennessey, 6/23/07
7.) Great Dane Club of Western New York – Judge Mr. Leon E. Reimert, 7/5/07
8.) Great Dane Club of Western New York – Judge Col. Jerry H. Weiss, 9/1/07
9.) Great Dane Club of Michigan – Judge Dr. Robert A. Indeglia
10.) Greater Cincinnati Great Dane Club, Inc. – Judge Mr. Leon E. Reimert, 11/9/07

Helga 2007 Top20



Many people say you have to have a Handler to win as big as you have. What do you say about that?

Hmmmm…..I have heard that more times than I can count. No, I don’t believe everyone needs a handler. I think it is something only the person themselves feels comfortable with.

Helga Mattaponi KC BOB

Did you do something to be so successful? 

It’s a lot of hard work, costly with registration fees, hotel and the enormous gas prices. I have a lot of drive in what I like to do….passionate.  I listened to friends….took in a lot of criticism (LOL). 

I also had a lot of support from many people. Friends who handle their own dogs and Professional Handler friends took time to give me advice. Without all that help I don’t believe we could have made it as successful. Most were more than willing to help.

Thank you ALL so very much (especially for your patience)!

Also, when you have such a beautiful dog that conforms to the breed standard the judges will find your dog, handler or no handler.

I have a friend (Deirdre Petrie) that campaigned all her own Chinese Crested specials herself. She gave me inspiration to give it a try. I tend to be shy until I get to know people. So she and a few other friends suggested getting training and some confidence from someone (Khalid Karriem) that could work with me. This training really helped, especially with the confidence

Liam 02042006 Glen Falls KC WBWOSCH
Liam Glen Falls KC New Champion


Helga 09302005 Warrenton KC W CH
Helga Warrenton KC

Do you have a magic formula? 
Not really. After awhile of falling down…. brushing yourself off…..and picking yourself back up again. You learn what makes your dog tick. What makes the dog a SPECIAL. Try to emphasize these qualities and seek out judges who appreciate them. 

Do you travel a lot?
No. We pretty much stayed in the North East Mid-Atlantic area. Sometimes traveling to other local areas. All within driving distance. 

Liam 11132005 Mispillion KC BOW
Liam Mispillion KC BOW

Do you advertise a lot? 
No. My advertising consists of mostly the Great Dane & Working Dog magazines.

Of course we all know that you must have a good dog to win but what made Helga the type of dog that a 1st time owner handler could do so well with? 

Helga to me is what the standard calls for in a Great Dane. Helga has it all. Breed Type, Conformation, structure, impressive movement and elegance. I am blessed to have her

Helga 10022005 Old Dominion KC BOB
Helga Old Dominion KC BOB

Were people supportive of you for owner handling?
There were some that were supportive and some not so supportive.

Did you get pressure from people to use a handler? Yes from some. It was never about finishing my dogs Championship. It was about me finishing my dogs Championships. It was something that I wanted to do. Not everyone wants or feels comfortable in the ring showing their dogs.

I have some wonderful friends, mentors, respected competitors and would like to Thank them….Arnie, Jenn Bianchini, Ray Cataldi, Mike Chiles, Jane Chopson, Humberto Cruz, Tom Davis, Khalid Karriem, Theresa La Brie, Cindy Kelly, Patrice & Jeff Lawrence, Darlene Meredith, Robin Mohrmann, Judi Parr, Deirdre Petrie, Laura Pyles, Jose Ribo, Joel Rosenblatt, Betty Streeter, Jon & Myra Stusek, Rita Suddarth, James Perry Taylor, Bill & Donna Urban, David Vitagliano, Rick Zahorchak, Mary Anne Zanetos, Nancy Zinkhan and many more wonderful people that I have met


Helga Westminster BOS

Did you talk to judges about your wins or loses? Sometimes……

What was your favorite win? 

Wow. There were many. Helga and Liam’s Championships. I still remember how exciting that was to finish their Championships. Helga finished her Championship on a Friday at 12 Months old (Judge Kenneth Buxton)…BOS (Judge Donna Buxton) on Saturday from a large entry…..BOB (Judge Cathy De La Garza) on Sunday from a large entry over Specials. What an awesome weekend.

Liam my 2nd Great Dane Champion was awarded his 1st Major and points at a Specialty (Judge Barbara Dempsey Alderman) at 6 Months old. When he was 9 Months old he won WD/BW/BOB over specials in New York under Judge Terri Goldman. It was hot as Sadies out. But I loved every minute of it. It was my first time in the Specials ring. The next day he won WD/OS and Helga won WB/BW under Judge LaMar Mathis
His second 2nd Major was awarded by (Judge Judy Harrington) at 12 Months old. He then needed a single to finish his championship. I put him up for the winter. He finished his first day back out with a WD/BOW/BOS under Judge Dr. Alvin Krause.  What a wonderful weekend!

See and you thought I forgot about the Championships….It was the beginning…the foundation of my learning experiences. Then the awesome win’s with Helga as a Special…..every one of them so memorable. From her very first BOB at 12 Month’s old to the last BOB when we moved around the breed and Group ring for the last show of the year in 2007. She was so perfect in Group. I could feel it on the end of the lead. We just glided around the Group ring while the December, 2007 Ohio Blizzard bellowed outside. She didn’t win a ribbon in Group that day. But it didn’t matter. She was Beautiful. 

 Every Specialty win, Group win and Group placement I remember and every Judge that awarded her. Thank you Judges for these wonderful wins and memories!

I understand you will be breeding Helga soon.

Yes. Helga (Fawn) has been bred to Tyler, Ch Jerdans Prince of Vigo (Brindle). Tyler is a square, balanced, good moving sound dog full of breed type. He compliments Helga with his pedigree and these attributes. Her pregnancy has been confirmed. I am very excited to announce that she is due at the end of March!


Helga GDC Leigh Valley BISS

 Will this be your 1st litter? 

If you are as successful at breeding as you were at handling we can all look forward to some spectacular pups! 

Thank you Caryn for interviewing me for the Great Dane Review. What an honor to be thought of to do this.

Great Dane Review woull like to thank Cat Urner for taking the time to share her experiences with us.