||Senior shines in national dog show circuit
RELEASED: November 26, 2009
By Leigh Ivey
DANVILLE, KY—Senior Millie Perez of Glendale, Ariz., has a hobby that many Centre College students have only witnessed in movies. Since childhood, she has been touring the country as a contestant in numerous national dog shows, and she has found much success throughout the years.
Among the competitions in which she's participated are the All-World Coonhound Championship (eight showings), National Redbone Days (five showings), American Redbone Days (one showing), Autumn Oaks (eight showings), and the World Coonhound Championship (one showing).
During the World Coonhound Championship, Jean Ramm '66 says, Perez "won best of breed at the largest coonhound event in the nation—actually the world. This was no easy feat."
Ramm and another Centre alumna, Joanne Martone '73, have known Perez since she was a child, and both have had quite an influence on her.
"When I was younger we had two Redbone Coonhounds and would attend shows in northern Arizona," Perez says. "I was promised that when I turned 10, I could attend the local shows more frequently with two Centre alums, Jean Ramm and Joanne Martone. Then, when I turned 14, I was asked if I would like to go across the country and go to some bigger shows."
The answer to that question was a resounding yes, and for the past eight years, Perez has been participating in dog shows on the national level.
"I really enjoy showing dogs," she says. "I enjoy the fact that I'm able to form close bonds with the dogs I show—it's indescribable the relationship you can form and how understanding and dependable they can be. All they want to do is please you, and just the same, you want to please them."
And, she adds, "If it hadn't been for my showing dogs, I'd have never been introduced to this region of the country, nor would I be at Centre."
Throughout the early years of her dog show career, Perez frequently heard Ramm and Martone praise Centre, which led to her visiting the school during her college search.
"I knew I wanted to go to a small school, preferably not in Arizona, and somewhere I could get a lot of attention from my professors," Perez says. "Jean and Joanne kept telling me about Centre, and in 2005, when I went to compete at Autumn Oaks in Indiana, we made a trip to Centre so I could check it out. Needless to say, I fell in love with the school."
The drawback to attending college so far from her home, however, is that Perez is unable to work during the school year with the dogs she shows.
"That means there's little training involved," she says. "When I do return to Arizona in the summer, I have to put in several hours a day, every day for the two- or three-week period the dogs and I are together before we compete."
Despite this challenge, Perez has had much success in the dog show realm.
At the Autumn Oaks competition in 2005, she received the prize for Best of Class—Redbone Puppy Female and Best of Breed—Redbone Female with Ramm's dog, Legend.
"Another moment that I'm really proud of was at the All-World Coonhound Championship," Perez says. "The show lasts all day, and your dog competes in five events—you get one point for competing in each event, another if you win in your group or heat and a third if you win overall. I'd competed and received second place overall in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006. Finally, in 2007, we won the whole thing with a dog named Striker, owned by Centre alum Jean Ramm."
Receiving this prize was even more thrilling, she says, because "the dog, the owner, and I are all females and had won in a male-dominated sport."
And although she is unsure of when she will compete next, Perez hopes that more dog shows are in her future. "It all depends where life after Centre takes me," she says.
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Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Consumers Digest ranks Centre No. 1 in educational value among all U.S. liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://www.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/
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