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NHS Grad at Westminster Dog Show

When Gina Piffarerio first joined 4H, she likely didn't expect to find herself one day at the Westminster Dog Show. This past June, that's just where she and her rottweiler found themselves at the prestigious event in New York.

Piffarerio and TCB's Professor Minerva McGonagall, better known as Maggie, competed for the title of best of breed at the 2022 Westminster Dog Show. It was a tight competition with 30 dogs all scrambling to win in five different categories, but Piffarerio and Maggie held their own, though they did not win. .

"I was just excited to be there and to be invited," said Piffarerio.

She first began handling dogs when she was about 11, and when she got Maggie three years later, there were some people who doubted she'd be able to work with such a large dog. But Piffarerio didn't let that stop her, and instead, she focused on building a bond with Maggie–which she said is unbreakable–and that helped her both in and outside the context of competition. Since then, she's been involved in both AKC and UKC competitions, with Maggie and handling some other dogs.

Dogs have become a passion for Piffarerio, who, in addition to training dogs for shows, also trains them for service work. She's also passionate about teaching others about the art of dog training and handling.

"Training dogs can be very, very challenging, and I don't want someone to give up just because it's hard," she said. "When I was [first] training dogs, I had a lot of support and it made such a huge difference."

That support is key for Piffarerio, especially since handling dogs has been such a big part of her life. Not only has it taught her how to be more confident, but it also gives her the opportunity to connect with others.

So when it came to the Westminster Dog Show, that's how Piffarerio approached it–a time to be with Maggie and to connect with other people who care about their dogs just as much.

"It's definitely challenging, and it's obviously very competitive... [but] it was fun to just be with my dog."

To follow Piffarerio's dog training adventures and competitions, she can be found on Instagram @piffarerio_dog_training.


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