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Doug Johnson & Jamie Hubbard – Passion for Dogs

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116 – April 2019

by Joan Harrigan

It all started with a $300 puppy. In the 1980s, Douglas Johnson was growing up in the rural Virginia town of Waynesboro — “Walton’s Mountain” country. Since junior high school, he’d worked for a local veterinarian, cleaning kennels and walking dogs out front. The job paid $1 per hour, which Johnson’s parents matched. He’d saved his earnings, and knew just how to spend them.

Sandy Blakeley took her Sandiam Clumber Spaniels to the clinic, and Johnson was captivated. “The first one I remember was a bitch named Rainbow,” he says. “Pretty exaggerated in type, big, chunky-boned, round all over, and just cute.” Johnson’s mother spoke to Sandy Blakeley about getting a puppy. “I was a young gay kid, somewhat socially-isolated,” Johnson says. “A little bored in school, not really enthusiastic about anything, I needed a friend and a bit of an escape.”

He went to pick up his puppy, and “an interesting passion” was sparked. Johnson began reading about dogs, studying them, and learning. That first Clumber was a dog named “Sandiam’s Scorpio” and Johnson handled him to his championship. “Our first show was Skyline Kennel Club, where Scorpio got Best of Breed,” Johnson says. “Everett Dean was judging, and he was very kind to me.” Dean became a mentor to Johnson — someone to learn from and to emulate.

Johnson “couldn’t wait” to graduate high school. He studied art history at George Mason in north- ern Virginia, and left in 1990 to concentrate on his dogs. He began to work with Margaret Curtis, a relationship in dogs that continued for three decades. A year later, he moved to Chicago and spent a year as an assistant for Bryan and Nancy Martin. He credits Nancy Martin with teaching him how to get a dog in top condition and keep it there, as well as the fine points of presenting a Clumber and maintaining its snowy white coat. In Bryan Martin, whom Johnson describes as very disciplined, he saw a savvy businessman.

Click here to read the complete article
116 – April 2019

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