Splitting her time between the soccer pitch and dog show ring has been a way of life for Sophia Rogers for the past eight years.
Now the Bordentown Township resident is currently preparing to compete in the Kennel Club of Philadelphia’s National Dog Show next weekend with her Great Dane, Captain Crunch, and an American Foxhound, Angel.
Although she was primarily raised in a soccer household, Rogers, 20, and her family welcomed a Great Dane puppy into their home in 2010 and she soon found herself competing alongside her siblings in the succeeding years.
After garnering experience and winning multiple titles along the way, Rogers will showcase her talents at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center at Oaks on Nov. 17-18.
“This is one of my favorite dog shows because it’s so big and people come from all over the country,” Rogers said. “It’s so big that it’s the best-of-the-best, so when you win or you’re competing there, it’s just so impressive.”
Showing in junior competitions as early as the age of 13, Rogers is no stranger to the national competition in Philadelphia. This year marks her sixth appearance in the annual show, where she has received previous winning honors such as “Best of Breed” and “Best Junior.”
Along with multiple appearances in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York as well, Rogers won “Best Junior Handler” in 2016, which she says she’s “still in shock” over.
While the years of experience in the show ring has Rogers confident for this year’s event in Philadelphia, she said she’s still mindful of the obstacles and tasks in handling live animals over the years.
“When I start working with a new dog, the main challenge is to learn all the ins and outs for that dog. They are living, breathing animals and just like humans, no two are alike,” Rogers said. “It is a challenge, but it is also amazing learning each individual thing about them.”
As Rogers and her dogs head off to Philadelphia next week in hopes of bringing home another coveted title, she won’t be alone. She will be joined by her 14-year-old twin sisters, Emma and Faith, and her 10-year-old sister, Julia, who will all be competing with various breeds throughout the weekend event as well.
“My family does it, too. My younger sister started showing after I did, so it’s a family-oriented sport and that’s what I love,” Rogers added. “We would compete against each other and sometimes we would all show Great Danes. It’s very friendly until we get into the ring and then we all want to go for it.”
Although the awards Rogers and her siblings have earned over the years in shows have helped drive her success and competitive spirit, she said she enjoys the nature of working with animals, too.
“My biggest thing with shows in general is just working with the dogs. I get to love all them and it’s the best job in the world,” she said. “Besides the family aspect of it, it’s just a great experience and I learn a lot.”
As Rogers and her canine companions prepare to take on opponents in Philadelphia next weekend, they will be heading south in December for the American Kennel Club National Championship in Orlando, Fla.
With her work cut out for her in the following months, Rogers simply has her sights set on the Philadelphia event for now.
“I’m hoping to have the best time next week and hopefully bring home the big ribbon,” she said.