JUNIOR HANDLER Q&A
each handler. There are also judges who seem to know who their top pick is before any handling really begins. Have I bred or co-bred a litter? No, not at this time—but I plan to. Is breeding something that I’d like to pursue? Yes, definitely. Breed preservation is extremely important, and it should be to every breeder of purebred dogs. This is what keeps your dog’s breed authentic and true to the purpose, function, and structure of the breed. Without breed preservation, there will be more problems in health and temperament, and deviations from the traditional over- all appearance of the breed. I am currently getting health clearances done on my champion Papillon. My experienced AKC breeder is going to help me select a champion bitch that will produce true to the breed standard. What are my goals for the future? Do I see myself continuing in the sport once I’ve aged-out? Yes. I have found a true passion for dog showing and dog performance competitions. I would really like to work for a Professional Handler, so that I can further my educa- tion. My goals are to hone my own dog handling skills in the ring and fully understanding everything I can about as many dog breeds as possible. I would like to achieve this by training and handling a vast variety of different breeds. I definitely have plans to continue in this sport after I’ve aged-out. Dog showing is exhilarating, and addictive, and quickly becoming a way of life. Can I share a word or two about my relationship with my cur- rent dog? Forrest, my Papillon, is so much more than just a dog to me. He tries so hard for me every time, and I can always rely on him. He’s very intelligent and is the reason for my career in dog sports. I don’t know what I would do without him. Is there a funny story that I can share about my experiences as a Junior Handler? Nothing too funny has happened. But when I was flying to Orlando for the AKC National, I met another girl with her dog in a carrier while waiting in line to board the plane. I was seated in the row next to her, and it turned out that she was also a Junior Handler traveling from Illinois to the same dog show! LILY BENNETT I live in Sacramento, California,
What do I remember about the first time I showed as a Junior? The first time I showed in Juniors, I showed my MAS, Ginger. My first win made me feel so accomplished and proud that I wanted to do it again and again, because it was so much fun with a dog I’d trained myself. How do I prepare my dog and myself for the ring? Most all of my dogs get a small pep talk before we go into the ring. Some- times, I’ll sing to them, which puts them at ease. My one “good luck charm” has always been Sea Turtles; I have a small stuffed animal that goes to almost every show with me. How do I assess my competition? Is everyone usually a good sport? I don’t normally assess my competition because I don’t feel the need to. I just focus on my dog, the judge, and me when I’m in the ring as this keeps me more focused. Most everyone is a good sport, besides the few sour apples that I’ve seen throw their ribbons on the floor and stomp off. What about the judges? Do they seem to enjoy the Juniors ring? Most judges I have had genuinely enjoy the Juniors ring because they like seeing the future of the sport grow. Most judges are gra- cious and patient with the Novice Juniors, but give the Open Seniors a challenge, which the Open Seniors enjoy. But I’ve also had judges mistake my dog for a different breed—more than once. This is very frustrating to me as I’ve had to politely educate them in the ring about my breed. Do I have a mentor in the sport? Have I assisted any Professional Handlers? I’ve assisted a few Professional Handlers, but I’ve stopped recently to focus on my studies and my plans for my kennel. I have a few mentors in the sport, and I love them dearly. Are there any wins for which I am particularly proud? I have a few memorable wins that are my favorites, such as my two back-to- back Best in Show wins with a Standard Manchester (2019), Best Junior Handler of California (2019), Best of Breed at Royal Canin with my Cirnceo dell‘Etna (2019), and two NOHS BIS with my Wirehaired Pointing Griffon (2021). How do I accentuate my dog’s breed type in the ring? As I show many different breeds, it is very important to me that I memorize each breed standard so that I can show each dog to the best of my ability. Knowing how to show each breed’s standard has taught me how to correctly accentuate each part of the dog. Are some breeds better suited for Junior Showmanship than others? I believe every breed is good for Juniors, because Junior Showmanship is about showing your breed to its breed standard and showing how well you know the standard. Is there something that judges should know about judging Juniors? Are all judges the same? Judges should know the breed of dog the Junior is showing. Every judge judges differently, and it is a matter of their own opinion. They each look for something differ- ent, no matter which breed the Junior is showing. Have I bred or co-bred a litter? Yes, I have co-bred Boston Ter- riers and Cirnechi. I am a Breeder of Merit with Boston Terriers. Breeding dogs has taught me how important health testing is and how genetics comes into play. Is breeding something that I’d like to pursue? Yes, breeding is something I am starting to pursue, and preserving my breeds is very important to me. I love breeding dogs to keep their original pur- pose; as you see many dog breeds starting to disappear. What are my goals for the future? Do I see myself continuing in the sport once I’ve aged out? I am starting college and AP classes, so I’ll graduate with my AA, a degree in business and animal sciences. Hopefully, a judging license somewhere along the way, as I’d still love to keep active in the sport. Can I share a word or two about my relationship with my cur- rent dog? I have many personal dogs that I show, and I love them all dearly. They all have their specific quirks. To me, my dogs are my
and I’ve been homeschooled online at Peak Prep Academy for three years now. Do I have any hobbies or inter- ests apart from purebred dogs? Do I have a job? I do charity work and am an ambassador with Angels On Wheels Toy Drive, Wagon Angels, Highschool Challenge, and Curvy Chic Fashion show. I normally take
most of the month of March from dog shows just to attend these charity events. Aside from charity work, I enjoy going to Comic Cons, casually playing volleyball, and playing on my PS-4. I don’t have a job yet, but I’d love to have one. Have I grown up in a doggy family? What is my breed(s)? I did not grow up in a dog family, but I did start when I was nine in AKC and 4-H, and have been around animals ever since I was little. My main breeds are the Cirneco dell’Etna, Wirehaired Pointing Grif- fon, Belgian Tervuren, Cardigan Welsh Corgi, and Boston Terrier. How was I introduced to Junior Showmanship? When did I start competing? I was introduced to Junior Showmanship in 2016 through 4-H, completely by accident. I started showing in AKC Junior Showmanship a few months later with my Miniature Ameri- can Shepherd. A couple months later, I met my Cirneco, and started learning “bigger” dogs with German Shorthaired Pointers.
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