Search Menu
Kalvin Sherman

For “Enzo” the Saint Bernard, the conformation ring has been all about substance and style. For owner-handler and professional groomer Evelyn Dixon of New Market, Maryland, their success in the ring can be attributed to commitment and her can-do spirit. Over the past two years, Enzo (BISS GCHB Notorious Tru Enzo) has blossomed under Dixon’s guidance in the ring. But she’s not the only one handling the gentle giant. Dixon’s 13-year-old son, Paxton Sherman, who is deaf, competes with Enzo in Junior Showmanship.

From Pet Saints, To Show Saints

Dixon is not a stranger to this large breed, and has owned Saint Bernards for 15 years. Even before that, she knew that she wanted to get Saints of her own someday. Dixon had grown up with family dogs, including a Newfoundland and a Flat-Coated Retriever. Even then, she knew she was drawn to other breeds, which, at the time, she only saw on TV. “I remember growing up watching The National Dog Show and Westminster on TV,” she recalls. “When it was time for me to have my own dog, I was drawn to Saint Bernards. Something about them stands out to me — the jowls, masks, power, fluff, all of it. After owning two pet Saints, I asked to try a show dog.” Dixon says she’s always open to trying new things, and after having watched shows growing up, she wanted to give it a try.

And it’s worked out better than she could have ever imagined. Even after his successful show career, Dixon hasn’t forgotten the day Enzo came into her life, changing it forever. She’d gone to Bedford, Virginia, and met with breeder Jeff Creasey, owner of Notorious Tru Saints.

Evelyn Dixon

“I went there to look specifically for a male show-quality puppy that would also be an excellent house pet. Enzo was one of 30 puppies in two litters. He waddled over to me and sat at my feet. I picked him up, and he melted into my arms,” Dixon says. “I sat him down to look at some other puppies, but Enzo followed me wherever I went. No matter how many other puppies I looked at, I always came back to him. He never left my side as Jeff and I chatted about the litters. I think Enzo picked me more than I picked him.”

The next order of business was choosing a name for the puppy. “I wanted a unique, strong name for him,” Dixon says. She explains that her friend’s last name was DeLorenzo, and he had joked about naming his son “Enzo DeLorenzo.” They both thought it suited the puppy nicely, and he became their “Enzo.”

Connecting Their Family in New Ways

Dixon wasted no time establishing a connection with Enzo as a puppy. “The day I brought him home, I started stacking him and having a friend take photos, so I could analyze how he looked and what I needed to change,” she says. “I would do this almost daily starting when he was 8 weeks old.” Especially since this was the first time she or Enzo had ever done conformation, there was a learning curve for both of them. “We both had to learn the conformation routine,” Dixon says. “Consequently, he knew what was expected at a young age.”

Dixon’s son, Paxton, had an instant connection to Enzo as soon as she brought him home. Even before Enzo entered the picture, Dixon says that her son would help her groom her client’s dogs. This continued too when Dixon began to show Enzo. “Paxton has always had an affinity for animals,” Dixon explains. “When I discovered the world of Juniors and told Paxton about it, he wasted no time giving it a try. Since Enzo is a natural in the ring, he and Paxton are a perfect match.”


Enzo has brought their family together in a new way. Her other son, Kalvin, who’s 11, is also a junior handler. Dixon says that he is a key part of “Team Enzo,” helping her with show prep and chores, both at home and at conformation venues. Taking part in conformation together brought them all closer, and brought them into the dog world in a whole new way.

A Star From the Start

As soon as he got in the ring, Enzo started making a name for himself. He earned his Championship when he was just a year old, and his Grand Championship three months later. Dixon and Enzo took their first Reserve Best in Show Owner-Handler at 18 months. One month later, they won the coveted Best in Specialty at the 2023 Saint Bernard Club of America National Specialty. In 2023, Enzo took home Best of Breed at the prestigious 2023 National Dog Show in Philadelphia — one of the shows that Dixon had grown up watching on TV.

Even early on in Enzo’s career, it was clear that he had something special. A judge notes to Dixon that when he was stacked in the lineup with the other Saint Bernards, there was something that stood out about him. Being a natural in the ring definitely made Dixon’s role as owner-handler easier, but she and her sons still had to adjust to the expectations of the ring. Luckily, they had help: Dixon’s mentor, Billy Buell III of San Jacinto, California, was a huge help in their conformation journey.

Evelyn Dixon

“He’s been able to dissect the little things that I need to focus on in the ring,” Dixon says, “all the while, encouraging me.” Buell, who is an all-breed handler and longtime breeder of Saint Bernards, saw his potential from the start. “Enzo has excellent breed type, wonderful structure, and has that X-factor in the ring,” Buell says. “Plus, he’s a natural showman.”

Part of what Dixon learned over time was how important teamwork is the in ring. “In order to create a winning partnership, the most important ingredient is trust,” she says. “The dog must trust the handler to give the proper command at the proper time, and the handler must trust the dog to follow those commands. Enzo and I are a dream team.”

They’re not slowing down anytime soon. Enzo is still at the beginning of his career, and more big shows are on the docket for 2024. They’re planning on multiple specialty shows in the spring, as well as the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, and the Saint Bernard Club of America National Specialty in Loveland, Colorado.

Enzo’s Impact on Paxton

While he started by watching Enzo and Dixon in the ring, the family’s devotion to conformation extends past learning by doing. They’ve sought out private lessons with local professional handlers, which Dixon notes has helped them enormously.

Because Paxton is deaf, there is an added layer of preparation when he goes into the junior showmanship ring with Enzo. Paxton arrives to his judge’s ring early, where he and his family will watch the judge in action before it’s his turn with Enzo. Paxton takes note of the judge’s ring procedure, and studies what he may be asked to do when he goes into the ring so that he can prepare. Before judging for his group begins, Dixon lets the ring steward know that he’s deaf, who informs the judge before the group begins. This helps the judge communicate better with Paxton, using signals instead of words to communicate what he’d like to do.

Because Paxton handles Enzo in conformation, their familiarity and teamwork is one piece of the handling puzzle that he knows he can feel confident about. Through the sport, Paxton and Enzo have developed a special, close relationship, and have adjusted communication to understand each other well in and out of the ring. As Paxton enters his teenage years, Dixon says Enzo has been a “life changer” for Paxton. Doing conformation through junior handling with Enzo has helped the teen gain self-confidence, and only continues to strengthen their bond. Paxton’s ring etiquette and sportsmanship also continues to improve with every show.

Evelyn Dixon

Translating Talents to Other Dog Sports

The family lives on one-third of an acre in a lake community with many hiking trails and opportunities to swim. Enzo shares the expanse of Dixon’s property with the family’s other dog, a Pomeranian named “Precious.” There is an obvious size difference between the two dogs, but Dixon says that Enzo is as gentle as he is silly, powerful, and snuggly. “Enzo respects her size and has never injured her in play. When they both were puppies and wrestled, Enzo would gently grab her by the tail and lift her into the air. She never backed away, and her tail fur has never been the same,” Dixon recalls.

Their property is the perfect place to help Enzo stay in shape, Dixon says. “I take him every morning when it’s cool for a one-mile jog. I get on a golf cart, and he jogs alongside. The last quarter mile is up a hill. When we first started doing this, he would break gait because it was difficult to maintain the pace we do in the show ring,” Dixon notes. “Over time, he’s now able to keep the same gait the entire way.” The wide-open spaces also mean plenty of animals, like deer and squirrels, that Enzo loves to chase. Dixon hopes this drive will translate into a strong career in Fast CAT.

Despite looking promising as a Fast CAT Saint Bernard, Dixon says that Precious has the edge in terms of speed. When Enzo drops kibble at mealtime, Precious snatches it quickly before Enzo can react. Similarly, when the two zip about the backyard with Enzo in hot pursuit of his tiny housemate. “She definitely knows her limits with Enzo, and he respects those,” Dixon laughs. They keep each other in physical shape, just as Enzo stays mentally sharp with his handlers across the conformation rings that he shines in — and he’s just getting started.