Showsight Express - July 1, 2021

JUNIOR HANDLER Q&A

with my little Australian Terrier, which was my original breed and what I was raised with. I won my class every day of the show, therefore, automatically moving up into Open after my first show in Juniors! How do I prepare my dog and myself for the ring? I just go in without even thinking because, if I do any prepping with my dog, he won’t want to show in the ring! I actually do have a necklace that I feel is my good luck charm—it has my dog’s name on it! How do I assess my competition? Is everyone usually a good sport? Everyone is definitely not always a good sport! I just try to be as nice and supportive of everyone as possible, because you don’t see this a lot, unfortunately. What about the judges? Do they seem to enjoy the Juniors ring? Most judges seem to enjoy the Juniors ring because, if not, in my opinion, they shouldn’t be judging it! I wouldn’t want to see a judge not liking to judge the future of our sport. Do I have a mentor in the sport? Yes. I grew up having the men- tor, Tracy Szaras, who is a very well-respected handler. Also, my mother and stepfather, June Beckwith, and Zack Helmer. Are there any wins for which I am particularly proud? Yes, for sure! Some of my best wins are last year of Royal Canin, which was my last year there in Open Intermediate. Me and my Treeing Walker Coonhound, Bullet, won a huge class all of the days except one. We went on to win Reserve Best Junior out of a lot of Juniors! We also made it to the finals, which is a huge deal! ! Another win that I will always cherish is back-to-back Reserve Best Juniors at the Philly shows (which are huge shows) with my Wire Fox! My Walker and I also finished the year, last year, being the Number 1 Junior in the country! And we have stayed in the Top 4 this year as well as No. 1 Hound! How do I accentuate my dog’s breed type in the ring? I have a very flashy boy, so there are many little tricks I have to make him more noticeable. One of my favorites is standing back and letting him stand there as a Hound should! Are some breeds better suited for Junior Showmanship than oth- ers? People would definitely say so, but they would only say that because some breeds are flashier than others, so you stand out more. But I can do different things to make each breed flashy, so no! Is there something that judges should know about judging Juniors? Are all judges the same? I think judges should really focus more on the relationship the Juniors have with their dogs. You can see how much they put into that dog and how hard they have to work for it, instead of putting easy dogs up; because Juniors who have to work for it, and succeed, could show any dog they go into the ring with, and Juniors with perfect, push-button dogs probably can’t truly handle a hard dog! All judges are definitely not the same, which isn’t the greatest because they should all be looking for the same thing... a good “professional” Junior. Have I bred or co-bred a litter? I have not been listed as a co- breeder or breeder, but have my first litter coming soon. I have, in fact, whelped a litter by myself though! Is breeding something that I’d like to pursue? Yes, it definitely is. I want to breed for the betterment of my breeds, meaning health and personality-wise, and the bonus... a pretty dog. What are my goals for the future? Do I see myself continuing in the sport once I’ve aged-out? My goals for the future are definitely, at some point, to be a Professional Handler. But also, on the side- line, to try to pursue entrepreneurship or my “influencer” dreams! Can I share a word or two about my relationship with my cur- rent dog? My relationship with my current two main Juniors dogs is absolutely insane! My hound and I have the strongest connection. We are always so in sync and, together, you can just tell he’s my heart dog! He was also one of the hardest dogs I’ve ever trained, so he’s a huge accomplishment! Then there’s my English Setter who

What about the judges? Do they seem to enjoy the Juniors ring? All the judges I’ve met have seemed to enjoy the Juniors ring. Do I have a mentor in the sport? Have I assisted any Profes- sional Handlers? I have, perhaps, the best mentor I could have asked for, Kay Peiser. She has helped me to better understand the Poodle breed. Watching her handle her dogs has helped me become a better handler as well. Are there any wins for which I am particularly proud? I am very proud of placing second in Elkton in a large class. It was the largest class I’ve ever been in (I believe there were 13 of us) and placing that high boosted my confidence a lot. How do I accentuate my dog’s breed type in the ring? Proper grooming is HUGE with Poodles, as everyone knows. One of the things that is also important while handling Poodles is to make sure the tail is always up. Are some breeds better suited for Junior Showmanship than oth- ers? I think the answer to this really depends on how much work the Junior is willing to put into the dog. I was told Poodles are a dif- ficult breed to handle, and that’s why not many Juniors have them. I love Poodles, so I continuously put in the work to keep learning and growing. You can show whichever breed you want to show, just put forth the effort. Is there something that judges should know about judging Juniors? Are all judges the same? After the class has been judged, I’ve come to enjoy it when the judge tells us, on our way out of the ring, what we need to improve. It gives us an idea of what we need to work on to do better at the next show. Have I bred or co-bred a litter? I have not co-bred a litter. Is breeding something that I’d like to pursue? Yes, I will pursue breeding. Breed preservation is very important and I would love to join other breeders in helping to better this breed. What are my goals for the future? Do I see myself continuing in the sport once I’ve aged-out? I am fully committed to continuing in this sport after I age-out this summer. Can I share a word or two about my relationship with my cur- rent dog? Lili is my best friend. We do just about everything togeth- er—short of taking her to school with me because she won’t fit in my backpack. She is crazy at times, but overall, she’s the most lov- able dog I’ve ever had. Is there a funny story that I can share about my experiences as a Junior Handler? When Lili was a puppy, she got excited in the ring and started jumping around and spinning in circles. When it happened, I was a little embarrassed. But now, I look back at the video and laugh. RYLEY KIRKLAND I’m 15 years old. I live in South Carolina, and I’m homeschooled. Do I have any hobbies or inter-

ests apart from purebred dogs? Do I have a job? Some other hobbies I have are being a singer/songwriter and, basically, my job is being a handler’s assistant! Have I grown up in a doggy

family? What is my breed(s)? Yes, both of my parents are handlers, and I’m third generation. So, I’ve always been in it! My breeds are Wire Fox Terriers and Treeing Walker Coonhounds. How was I introduced to Junior Showmanship? When did I start competing? I started competing as soon as I turned nine and was eligible for Juniors! What do I remember about the first time I showed as a Junior? I remember going in and acting like I knew exactly what I was doing

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