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Meet Junior Handler Bebe Mathews

Bebe Mathews only began showing dogs in 2021, but she’s already solidified her place as a serious competitor. For the past two years, she’s ranked No. 1 Kerry Blue Terrier Junior Handler, and is also the current No. 2 Russell Terrier Junior Handler.

Lucy Pastore Posted by Lucy Pastore in Success 2 min read

A young woman poses with a well-groomed kerry blue terrier next to a topiary dog decorated with a colorful bow, holding a pink award ribbon. both are outdoors by a white building.

By Sassafras Lowrey, CTDI

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Bebe Mathews only began showing dogs in 2021, but she’s already solidified her place as a serious competitor. For the past two years, she’s ranked No. 1 Kerry Blue Terrier Junior Handler, and is also the current No. 2 Russell Terrier Junior Handler. Mathews didn’t come from a dog show family, but it hasn’t stopped her from getting involved.

When she visited her first dog show, Mathews fell in love with terriers. Soon after, she worked with her parents to find a mentor, and jumped right into the sport. She says she’s proof that you can make your dreams come true. The 17-year-old is now one of the top Junior Handlers in the country, closing out 2023 with her dog “Wizard” as the No. 3 Russell Terrier, and her dog “Reilly” as the No. 2 Kerry Blue Terrier.

Trying Something New

While many top junior handlers come from multi-generational dog show families, Mathews was the first person in her family to show dogs. And what brought her to dog shows is different than others’ routes into the sport.

Now a junior in high school, Mathews has always been a very artistic person. She plays piano, and has been playing classical music since she was 4 years old. In 2019, she became involved with photography, and went on to start her own pet photography business, called Happy Moments Photography. “Through the friends I made from photography, I went to my first show in 2021 just to spectate and take ringsides,” Mathews explains. She says she was hooked on dog sports immediately. At that first show, Mathews was instantly drawn to the sport. “[I] fell in love with the Kerry Blue Terriers,” she recalls. After that show, she got her own Kerry Blue Terrier and began participating in Junior Showmanship.

Achieving High Ranking Status

Mathews is currently the No. 3 Terrier Junior Handler in the country, and in the top 20 overall Junior Handlers, a ranking she describes as meaning “the absolute world” to her. But those successes didn’t happen overnight. Mathews says they’re a result of her commitment and dedication to growing her skills with handling and grooming. She notes she had to work extra hard because she felt like she was making up for getting a later start compared to some other Junior Handlers. “I did not win a ‘Best Junior’ until after a year of showing,” Mathews recalls. As she got started, she says she was barely in the breed rankings for juniors and “never thought I would succeed or make it to where I am now.” But, her hard work has paid off.