Dog magazine journalist and editor, breeder, dog show exhibitor and judge, and overall respected dog expert, Allan Reznik is a Renaissance Man
Growing up in Canada, Allan’s family dog was a Beagle and then, after that, a Standard Poodle. Allan explains, “We had a dog. They [Allan’s parents] didn’t believe in multiple dogs.” With this limited exposure as a child, one wonders where his passion for pooches comes from. It turns out, as a young lad Allan was a voracious reader and would religiously purchase the monthly magazine Dog World. “I just inhaled the content. It was this incredible fantasy world for me,” he admits.
His passion grew along with his knowledge of the subject and, at the age of around 11 or 12, Allan convinced his father to drive him to a dog show. After being dropped off, Allan was free to explore and meet many of the breeders he had read about. His experience at dog shows from a young age was key to putting him onto his multiple dog-themed career paths.
Combining two passions
At that first dog show, he was drawn to an Afghan Hound breeder. Allan describes the Afghan as, “a powerful, athletic and primitive hunter, yet very exotic,” and admits being “mesmerized by the breed.” This initial reaction would grow into a lifelong love of Afghans that would include owning, breeding, showing and winning with the beautiful dogs.
An introduction to the Afghan breeder, who would become a first mentor to Allan, happened because of his desire to watch her majestic animals. The breeder, an English woman, who Allan describes as, “a quintessential dog woman with sensible shoes,” noticed young Allan watching from a distance and decided to put him to work. Allan remembers her calling out to him, “Young man, make yourself useful!” before handing him a brush.
Allan eagerly obliged, and his mentor-to-be realized he was indeed very useful! The duo became a team at dog shows over a number of weekends spanning a couple of years. She was not only pivotal to Allan’s career path but also for his mentality toward sharing his knowledge and expertise. Allan remembers, “She saw I had promise, a love of dogs and a love of the sport.” One of the lessons he learned: “It’s really important that we pay it forward.”
Allan went to college, majoring in English with a minor in Psychology. He found he could combine his two loves, writing and dogs, by working with different dog publications in Canada and America. He eventually became the editor-in-chief of Dog Fancy and Dog World before working with the prestigious dog show publication Dogs in Review.
Although he loved his years with these different publications, as an editor of dog show-focused magazines, he was unable to do any judging. The American Kennel Club has a rule in place that prohibits editors of this subject matter from judging due to any possible conflicts of interest. In 2016 when Dogs in Review folded, Allan was free to apply for a judging license. He is now a well-respected judge of a number of different dog breeds.
The judging life
Allan moved from urban Southern California to live on a 16-acre farm in Northwest Arkansas with his animals. Currently, he has three dogs — a 12-year-old Afghan Hound female and two Tibetan Spaniels, one male and one female (all retired champions) — as well as a male cat who spends his days doing his job as a successful ratter, along with being adored by his four-legged siblings.
Allan is anxious to get back to his life judging dog shows and has been saddened by the 2020 shows cancelled due to the COVID pandemic. Allan confesses that 2020 broke his heart and lists the number of professionals at the shows whose lives have been impacted — breeders, professional dog handlers, vendors and groomers. He mentions more than once during our talk how welcoming and wonderful the people in the dog show world are.
It’s obvious he cares deeply not only for the dogs but for the humans as well.
Like other sports, dog shows are finding ways to come back, and Allan is already prepped on the changes that will take place to keep everyone safe.
There will be no audience cheering for the winners like he is used to, and contact will be limited and done behind masks, appropriate distance and sanitized hands. Even so, Allan is looking forward to the future, “It’s such a privilege to visit other parts of the country, evaluate the dogs and see what breeders
Allan is as busy as ever. He is a freelance writer — you can read his breed spotlights, Breed Bytes, in this magazine. He continues to be very active in the dog show world. Retirement isn’t in the cards for Allan. When it comes to dog shows, “You don’t retire,” Allan explains. “There are lots of folks in their 70s, 80s and even 90s who are still showing and judging, generous with their knowledge.”
As our discussion comes to an end, I ask Allan if there is anything he would have wanted to do but wasn’t able to. After a silence Allan answers, “No. I’ve been very fortunate.” Allan’s careers focused on his passion for dogs is something any dog lover would be envious of, the life of a Renaissance Man.
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