THE CHEERLEADERS: Interviews with the Partners of our Better-Known Judges, Breeders and Professional Handlers
By Allan Reznik
This month's instalment: Ben Thum, husband of Betty-Anne Stenmark, who will be judging Best in Show at Westminster in February 2018
1. What is your profession?
Television producer and voice actor.
2. Where, when and how did the two of you meet?
We met several years ago by chance via the Internet.
3. How was it to marry into the dogs? Did you know anything about the dog show world prior to meeting Betty-Anne?
Being introduced to the world of show dogs has been fascinating and quite educational. It’s a vast universe rich in history, beauty and delicious gossip.
4. How many dogs do you currently own?
We have two Dandie Dinmonts and a litter of three, plus a Poodle-Bichon mix that Betty-Anne has chosen to groom in a decidedly Dandie-like fashion.
5. Who does most of the cooking?
That would be Betty-Anne. She is a great cook and a gifted baker as well. I bat clean-up and also double as her personal sommelier.
6. Who does most of the grooming?
Betty-Anne is the groomer and I am the sweeper.
7. Does Betty-Anne indulge in any particular rituals before leaving to judge a show?
She is a meticulous packer and rarely forgets to bring all that she needs with her. She organizes her breed standards for the upcoming weekend to review on the plane.
8. Do you attend many dog shows?
When we first met I attended quite a few. Lately, I’ve become the chief dog sitter, a role I am well suited for.
9. Have you ever exhibited a dog in the ring or wanted to become active in the sport?
Not in this lifetime. My sport is handball but I love watching dog shows.
10. How does Betty-Anne decompress when she gets home from a show?
Bathing and grooming the dogs, reading novels, keeping up on world events, enjoying classical music and staying in touch with a multitude of friends via email and Facebook.
11. What hobbies and interests do you enjoy together?
Travelling with our dogs, hiking, dining out, landscaping and decorating our new home.
12. Is there much dog show "pillow talk," rehashing the weekend's events?
Depends on the show. Lately we have been talking about a soon-to-arrive Dandie puppy and my dog-related TV pilot project.