Erika Lanasa, Conformation Handler

woman holding small white chihuahua dog

Q:  We want to know more about your history and how you got to this level with your dog(s). Please provide a short biography.

A: I started showing dogs in Juniors and bred several breeds before settling on Chihuahuas. I owned and/or showed several of the top Chihuahuas in the history of the breed. I met my Xolo partner, Richard Yenchesky, 5 years ago and fell in love with the Xolo. I have campaigned my Xolo to #1 and he has multiple BIS and we have since bred many litters and finished many CH.

Q:  Why do you feed Purina Pro Plan dog food?

A: I have always fed Pro Plan and I am loyal to the brand because it has proven time and time again that it works.

Q:  Why do you recommend Purina Pro Plan for show dogs like yours?

A: Pro Plan is complete and balanced nutrition which supports all aspects of canine health and performance.

Q:  Why are you passionate about what you do?

A: I love the sport of purebred dogs and have dedicated my life to creating dogs that are healthy happy and the best representatives of their breeds.  Every time a new litter is born it represents a new beginning, brought on by careful planning and represents a new hope for the next big winner! As a breeder and handler there is no greater joy then the success I feel when one of my bred by animals is well received by the fancy.

Q:  When it comes to your career in conformation, what are you most proud of?

A: I am most proud of 2 special dogs, the first one I whelped and raised and finished and he went on to be the top winning Long Coat Chihuahua of all time CH Bayard I believe I can Fly “Teddy” and the second dog was SC Chihuahua, CH Sonnus Filho Sanchez “Sonnito” the top winning Chihuahua of all time with 48 BIS and over 170 group 1’s also the winner of the 2014 toy group Winkie Award.

Q:  What advice would you give to others looking to reach your level of success?

A: Diligence and passion. The ability to keep trying and the passion to love the dogs so much you are willing to sacrifice for the end goal.

Q:  What makes your dog(s) exceptional?

A: I think that part of a great dog or an exceptional one is luck. I also believe that planning and researching pedigrees and continually health testing is of the utmost importance.  The last part of the formula, for me, has always been nutrition. I have always fed Pro Plan and I feel that by supporting the dogs’ nutritional needs completely they are able to thrive, reproduce, and do whatever job is put in front of them – whether it be a strenuous campaign, performance work, or a beloved pet.

Q:  What do you find most rewarding about the time you spend with your dog(s)?

A: I love the bond I share with all the dogs I work with. I do not have assistants and I do not show a huge string of dogs. For me, the reward is building the bond and establishing the trust with each individual animal.

Q:  If you could train or compete with your dog(s) anywhere in the world, where
would you choose to go?

A: I love it here in the United States. I have traveled to other countries to show dogs but the beauty of the landscape of the US and the ability to travel in my motor home and see so many places is truly amazing.

Q:  What do you think it takes to get your dog(s) to perform at the highest level?

A: I believe that performance is largely nutrition-based. A well-trained dog cannot keep up with the stressful schedule of weekly dog shows and all the travel involved without complete nutritional support. We ask so much of the dogs in our care and by feeding them a complete and balanced diet, their physical needs are supported, allowing them to perform at their highest level.

Q:  Of all the dogs you’ve had, which one has had the biggest impact on you and why?

A: This is the toughest question to answer. I have had the privilege of showing many number one dogs, but the dog with the largest impact on my life was my retired Australian Shepherd, Dickie. He did his fair share of winning but he was my life partner and loyal until the day he died in my arms.

Q:  Please list any notable awards & accomplishments


  • CCA National Specialty winners
  • Winkie winner of the toy group 2014
  • Toy Group 3 at WKC 2015
  • Many BIS winners in several breeds

*This individual is a Consultant for Nestle Purina Pet Care Company.