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Charles City legal assistant to show her purebred dog at national show in Florida

  • Zara, a six-year old Spinone Italiano purebred dog, is held by her owner Pam Folz at the Charles City law firm of Eggert, Erb and Ellingson. Standing in the picture are from left to right: Sue Kloberdanz, attorney Danielle Ellingson and Theresa Farmer. Press photo by Kelly Terpstra

  • Pam Folz (right) and Zara, her Spinone Italiano, win Owner Handler Best in Show at the Mason City Kettle Club in October of 2018. Photo submitted


By Kelly Terpstra,

Sometimes dreams do come true.

That’s a reality that Pam Folz is able to live out with her Spinone Italiano dogs. Her passion of competing at dog shows across the nation with the Italian breed is only eclipsed by her love of the animals that are noted for their gentle and noble demeanor.

“I show because I enjoy showing. It’s a childhood dream of mine to be able to show,” said Folz. “If the dogs weren’t enjoying it, I would give it up tomorrow.”

“Best in Show” is a phrase Folz has heard often traveling to prestigious dog shows with her purebred animals. That’s what she’ll be vying for when she aims for the top spot with her 6-year-old purebred, Zara, next weekend in the American Kennel Club (AKC) National Championship dog show held in Orlando, Florida.

Folz, who lives in Floyd with her husband, Duane, is a legal assistant at the Charles City law firm of Eggert, Erb and Ellingson. The dedicated husband-and-wife handlers begin their trek down south this Sunday with Zara – who is ranked No. 3 nationally in the AKC National Owner-Handled Series Points.

Zara began showing at the age of 4 and attends the Spinone Nationals each year.

“She’s a grand champion,” said Folz.

Folz and Zara will compete in a variety of competitions at the dog show. Zara will have plenty of fans back home cheering her on as Folz said many shows will be able to be streamed online so her office co-workers can root for a top-dog finish.

“It is an esteemed dog show. You want to be invited to it,” said Folz. “The biggest thing that I want to emphasize is our dogs are family members first. I love to show, but it’s not a ‘for me thing.’ It’s a team effort.”

Zara, along with her 5-month-old puppy Ciro and 8-year-old Aldo, have each taken on a role as unofficial mascots of the Charles City law firm. Folz said they’re a welcome face for clients entering the front doors and can uplift staff when the mood is somber.

“They’re both people greeters,” said Folz. “They can tell if people are upset or they need some extra attention. I bring them here and the office enjoys having them here.”

Folz has been working at the law firm for two years. She introduced her co-workers to Riley, a 13-year-old Spinone Italiano who because the first office dog. Riley died a year ago, but his close relatives have continued to carry on the torch as some of the most friendly and loveable faces one can encounter when entering a business in Charles City.

“The dog’s are good for the staff. Whenever we’re having a bad day, it’s always good to be able to play with a dog – snuggle with a dog,” smiled Folz.

Folz began competing in obedience competitions and participating in pet therapy with a variety of different breeds of dogs back in 1996. She bought Riley in 2005 and entered the show circuit in 2008.

Zara was ranked No. 1 in the nation in her breed category but dropped two spots to No. 3 because she had to take some time off for maternity leave this past summer. She produced her second litter of pups last June. Folz said Zara has given birth to a litter of eight pups each time.

Zara won “Best in Show” in October 2018 at a local show in Mason City, Folz’s hometown. Folz said Duane plans on showing Ciro after the first of the year.

Duane and Pam also hunt pheasants and quail with the dogs. Pam said Aldo also did some extra training and can now hunt ducks. The ancient breed can trace its roots back to 500 B.C.

“They’re very versatile,” said Folz. “They point and they retrieve.”

The AKC Owner Handler show, which Zara will compete in, is scheduled to take place on Friday, Dec. 13, at the Orlando Convention Center. On Saturday, it’s the AKC National Championships. Each dog who takes Best of Breed will advance to the group competition.

Over 5,000 dogs from all over the world travel to Orlando to compete in the AKC National Championships, which features the top national and international canines athletes the world has to offer. Only seven go on to vie for the top title of “Best in Show.”

“We’ve worked hard. We’ve had to keep our rankings up to stay in the No. 3 spot because every weekend that you miss a show or you don’t go to a show, somebody else is playing catch-up to you. You always feel like you’re being chased,” said Folz. “People want the top spots.”

Viewers can watch from home or via their smartphone when the AKC National Owner-Handled Series Finals is live-streamed at at 10:15 a.m. on Friday. Saturday and Sunday’s National Championship competition will begin being streamed online at 3:30 p.m.

The AKC National Championship returns to Animal Planet as a three-hour special on Monday, Jan. 1, at 5 p.m.