2011 Scholarship Recipient: Chad Malinak
I was born in Harvey, LA to a family that had always owned AKC dogs, but they had never even considered showing dogs until I was thirteen. My older sister Lisa and I had watched shows on TV and wanted to try it out. So she bought a Labrador Retriever and started going to dog shows with the dog’s breeder. Soon, I was tagging along to shows with my sister. The more I learned at shows the more my love for dogs developed. My sister told me I should get a dog of my own, so I did some research and decided on a Vizsla. However, after talking to a breeder, I realized that I could not afford a Vizsla puppy. After further searching, I found a Pointer breeder that had one puppy left that was pet quality. Deciding to try showing in conformation anyways, I took my new dog, Shaker, into the ring. In a surprising twist, not only was his dog finishable, but at only 11 months, was the first dog from the litter to get a championship title.
At 14 years old I had gotten a late start in Junior Showmanship, but I worked hard to catch up to my peers. I began working with handlers Terry Galle and Robert Chaffin. I worked for them for several years, learning how to handle various breeds, deal with a multitude of client and dog-related issues, and become more polished as a handler. During the school year, I would meet them at shows on the weekends, but in the summer, I would hit the road with them for 8 to 12 weeks at a time.
While a junior, I qualified to show at Westminster in 2001 and 2002 and went to the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship in 2002. In 2003, I turned 18 and aged out of Juniors, but not before qualifying to show in Juniors at Westminster one last time. Because I had aged out, I spent the weeks leading up to Westminster working for handlers and practicing my handling skills. The night of Westminster, I entered the ring with the only goal of having fun and making my last experience as a Junior handler enjoyable. Shaker was on that night and showed his heart out and my handling skills were at their best from all the practice prior to the show. To my amazement, I left Juniors on the ultimate high note: winning Best Junior Handler at the Garden! That night was one of my proudest moments because I accomplished something few others in the sport have, and I did so with only four years of dog show experience.
After high school, I attended Louisiana Tech where I majored in animal science. Currently, I am in my fourth year of veterinary school at Louisiana State University. I wanted to become a vet because of my love for dogs. In 2000, my dad passed away and it way a very difficult period for me. However, the one thing consistent was my dog. I feel that because dogs are always there for us, even during our worst moments, I want to return the favor by devoting my life to helping animals. For me, it would be an honor to be able to give something back to man’s best friend.
Although I am unable to show dogs at the moment, dogs are still an important part of my life. I would like to someday have a successful show Pointer kennel, but I do not know when in my future career as a veterinarian will allow this to be possible. However, one thing is certain: no matter where my career takes me, a dog will always be by my side.