Showsight Express - July 1, 2021

JUNIOR HANDLER Q&A

Is there something that judges should know about judging Juniors? It should never be about the dog. Not every Junior is lucky enough to show a decent example of the breed. Have I bred or co-bred a litter? I have never bred or co-bred a litter, but I look forward to the opportunity one day. Is breeding something that I’d like to pursue? Preservation breeding holds significant importance to me. I look forward to the day when I will be able to participate in preservation breeding. What are my goals for the future? Do I see myself continuing in the sport once I’ve aged-out? I have already aged-out of the Junior program. I plan to make this a lifelong passion and a way of life. I aspire to one day become an all-breed judge. Can I share a word or two about my relationship with my cur- rent dog? My current dogs are my life. I cannot imagine life without them. Austin and Jenny, an English Setter and an All-American dog, taught me so much through Junior Showmanship and Com- panion events. I will be forever grateful for these dogs who gave me their all at every show and trial. Is there a funny story that I can share about my experiences as a Junior Handler? I wish I had a really funny story. But the truth is, by the time I was able to acquire a beautiful purebred dog and incredible mentors, the qualification dates for Westminster and the AKC Nationals were swiftly approaching. So, instead of offering a funny story, I humbly petition all who read this to take notice of Juniors who might greatly benefit from encouragement and the opportunity to show a well-bred dog in Junior Showmanship and/ or to be connected with a willing mentor. BRIANNA BEDROSIAN Forrest, the Papillon, shown in the middle, is turn- ing three and was my first Conformation, Agility, and Champion dog. Additional- ly, he’s my Junior Showman- ship dog, and I’m currently working towards his Grand Championship. I recently started showing and training my second Papillon, named Tiara, and my Dalmatian, Fantasia. The Irish Wolfhound puppy, Seamus, is the newest dog to join the pack! I live in Long Grove, Illinois, and I am a sophomore at Adlai E. Stevenson High School. Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? Aside from dog showing, I take part in photography and Hunter Jumper horse showing. Have I grown up in a doggy family? What is my breed(s)? I was born into the dog business with a mom who is a longtime professional dog trainer, focusing mainly on Obedience and Agil- ity. Growing up, we’ve had Dalmatians, Poodles, a Bulldog, and now, Papillons! How was I introduced to Junior Showmanship? When did I start competing? From a young age, I have always been very involved with dogs, whether it was training Agility or working on house manners with puppies. In 2018, my mom decided to get me my first Conformation and Agility prospect Papillon puppy when I was 13 years old. My dog’s breeder is extremely supportive of me and my Papillon. I feel she has played a big role in my confidence and success in Junior Showmanship. What do I remember about the first time I showed as a Junior? The first time I showed as a Junior I was completely lost; one moment you’re in the ring, the next you’re not. But, thanks to the

help of some amazing people I have met along my way, I was able to quickly learn the ropes. How do I prepare my dog and myself for the ring? My pre-game ritual starts with my Papillon’s beloved “squeaky,” then a couple of spins, kisses, and then we’re in the ring! How do I assess my competition? Is everyone usually a good sport? The competition between Junior Handlers is very tough, because everyone has worked hard and poured time into being the handler that stands out to the judge. Once you’ve been in the ring for more than a year or two, you start to recognize the Junior handlers who show dogs more frequently and even travel around the country. My experience with showmanship is that every Junior Handler I’ve met has been extremely kind, supportive, and posi- tive—both in and out of the ring. What about the judges? Do they seem to enjoy the Juniors ring? Many of the judges I have shown under have been really enthusias- tic and encouraging to me as a Junior Handler. I always appreciate the judges who provide insightful tips and feedback that can help me better my handling skills. Do I have a mentor in the sport? Have I assisted any Professional Handlers? Yes. I feel so fortunate to have the most amazing men- tor, Julia King, of Runway Papillons. Julia is a longtime breeder and exhibitor of Papillons who has helped me with grooming tricks and handling tips, encouraging me every step of the way. She also introduced me to one of her top handlers and a former successful Junior, Tegan Jarworski. Both have chaperoned me at shows around the county. Julia has even opened her home to me in Florida so that I could go to the AKC Nationals and show my dog! She has become a lifelong friend and mentor. Are there any wins for which I am particularly proud? My most memorable win, for me, was my Best Junior win at the Papillon Club of America Regional Specialty in Florida, in December of 2020. This win stood out to me particularly because I know that there were very good handlers in the ring, and I was confident in my handling when I went in the ring. How do I accentuate my dog’s breed type in the ring? I show my Papillon dog in Best of Breed. He has a really nice head, but he’s on the smaller side of the standard for his breed. When I go into the breed ring, I always stack him up towards the front end of the mat and leave plenty of space between him and the other dogs to make sure that he doesn’t get lost and overlooked next to the bigger dogs. The other thing I do when I show Forrest is, when I free stack him for the judge, I always showcase his head, since that is one of his best features. Are some breeds better suited for Junior Showmanship than oth- ers? Any breed can be successful in the Juniors ring. However, if you get a judge who specializes in your breed, it can be helpful. Junior Showmanship is judged on the handler’s skills and techniques, so it is not really about the dog. On the other hand, having a dog that shows well and is responsive and well-trained will always make the handler look better. I am very proud of my accomplishment at training my own Papillon puppy over the last two years and being able to win Best Juniors with him! Is there something that judges should know about judging Juniors? Are all judges the same? Judges should always bear in mind that this class is not based on the flash of the dog, but it’s based on the handling and how the Junior handles complicated situations. So, for instance, if there is a dog presenting more of a challenge, but that dog’s handler is doing everything he or she can and displaying good skills, they should have every opportunity to place as high as the Junior whose dog is perfectly behaved and responsive. Addition- ally, it’s really nice when you have a Juniors judge who is willing to give their time and some extra feedback after the class. Not all judg- es are the same. Some judges take more time, thoroughly assessing

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