JUNIOR HANDLER Q&A
Professional Handlers. I also learn a lot by doing, and I am not afraid to take a new dog/breed into the ring. My family has many friends and acquaintances with show dogs, so I have had the oppor- tunity to try many different breeds. They like to give me the wiggly puppies, or the shy dogs, or the dogs new to showing, which I actu- ally really enjoy. Are there any wins for which I am particularly proud? One win I am particularly proud of is my first Best Junior. I was showing my Vizsla, Louie, at the time. Louie is my neutered house dog who never saw the inside of a show ring until he was two. There was a time that, due to some unforeseen circumstances, I found myself without a Juniors dog. So, I started training Louie to show. After a few months of going dead last in my class, I finally got him trained. We went Best Junior from the Intermediate Class over a Master. It was my very first Best Junior, and it was with a “non-show” dog that I trained myself with no help, which made it that much more special. How do I accentuate my dog’s breed type in the ring? My breed is a Sporting breed, so I think movement is really important. They need to move swiftly and purposefully, with reach and drive. I show six different Vizslas, and they do not all move exactly the same. I am very careful about not dragging the slower one, and about mov- ing the puppy at a pace that does not bring out her “puppy paddle,” etc. My male is a great mover, so I am working on getting him to move out in front of me. Are some breeds better suited for Junior Showmanship than oth- ers? I do think that some breeds are better suited for Junior Show- manship. If it is difficult to make a dog/breed look smooth and pol- ished, it is probably not a great Juniors dog. I also think that people tend to fall for the flashier dogs. But it has been my experience that, no matter the breed, you will most likely be more successful with a dog that you have a relationship with. I showed a Siberian for a while, and even though he was an amazing dog, I have had more success with the Vizslas. They are my breed and they are the dogs I live with and love. Is there something that judges should know about judging Juniors? All judges are not the same! I wish there was more con- sistency in Juniors judging. If I could ask Juniors judges to judge according to one guideline, it would be: Judge the Junior and not the dog! Have I bred or co-bred a litter? I have bred a litter. My Vizsla, Sparrow, had a litter of six beautiful puppies last summer. I learned so much! I was there for the whelping, which was amazing. After- ward, I learned a ton about caring for newborn puppies; weigh- ing them every day, tending to dew claw removal and tail dock- ing, feeding and weaning, and exposing them to different types of stimulation (different surfaces, sounds, etc.) I also learned that it’s hard to let them go, but we picked a great group of families. Is breeding something that I’d like to pursue? I will continue to breed with my mom for now. After college, I will decide if I want to continue breeding on my own. I do think it’s very important to breed for the love and preservation of the breed. What are my goals for the future? Do I see myself continuing in the sport once I’ve aged-out? I have certain goals that I want to reach this year. These include earning a bronze grand champion- ship on my special, Quimby, having another litter, and finishing my bred-by puppy, Giggles. After these goals are reached, I would love to continue showing. Unfortunately, I will be going to college next year, so my time will be limited. Can I share a word or two about my relationship with my cur- rent dog? My current dog is my 22-month-old Vizsla named Qui- mby. He is a compassionate dog who is very in tune to human emo- tions. He can tell when I am sad or hurt, and he does everything in his power to try and comfort me. In the show ring, he is on the more difficult side to show. However, it is good to have a challenging dog
absolutely has a passion for me, so when we’re in the ring together we’re always as one. Is there a funny story that I can share about my experiences as a Junior Handler? I don’t really have any of those except that my hound, Bullet, is an absolute goofball and crazy puppy. We’ve had plenty of times where he has jumped, literally, six feet in the air after a perfect free stack! You’ll never see him not being goofy! ! ! ALEXANDRA LORENTI
Alexandra “Allie” Lorenti is a 17-year-old Junior handler from the Philadelphia area. She started in Con- formation at the age of 13. She also has experience in Hunt Training and Testing, Rally, and Agility. Her breed is the Vizsla.
I live in Collegeville, Pennsylva- nia, and I am a Junior at Methacton High School. Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? Outside of dog activities, I am an avid reader and writer. Have I grown up in a doggy family? What is my breed? I did not grow up in dog sports. However, I always had dogs growing up. When I was born, our family Vizsla, Sammy, was three years old. Sammy and I grew up together. Since his passing, my family and I have gotten three more Vizslas; Louie, Sparrow Jean, and Quimby. All of them participate in various dog sports with me. How was I introduced to Junior Showmanship? When did I start competing? I was introduced to Junior Showmanship when I was 12. My mom and I went to the Philadelphia Kennel Club show in Oaks, Pennsylvania, to meet our soon-to-be breeders, Susan and Berkeley Thompson, for the first time. I watched Berkeley, who was 16 at the time, show her dog, Crew, in the breed ring, and I instantly fell in love with the sport. I begged my mom for a show dog—and it all started there. What do I remember about the first time I showed as a Junior? The first time I showed as a Junior was at the Valley Forge Kennel Club show in 2017. I was 13 years old, and my dog’s breeders let me show their veteran, Paisley. I remember loving it and I could not wait to show again the next day. I am forever grateful to have had the chance to show Paisley as my first Juniors dog. She is full of personality and is so fun to show. How do I prepare my dog and myself for the ring? Whenever I show, I wear a locket with some ashes of my first Vizsla, Sammy. I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily a good luck charm, but it reminds me that, win or lose, I am there because I love spending time with my dogs. How do I assess my competition? Is everyone usually a good sport? When I watch other Juniors show, I try not to worry too much about how “good” they are. I try to stay focused on the dog I am showing that day and what I have to do to make him/her show their best. Most of the Juniors I have shown with are good sports. Of course, everyone wants to win, but with a few exceptions, every- one is really supportive of each other. What about the judges? Do they seem to enjoy the Juniors ring? All judges seem to be different in their approach to Juniors. I have shown under many judges who love the Juniors and enjoy having them in their ring. On the other hand, I have seen judges treat Junior Showmanship as just another assignment. Do I have a mentor in the sport? My dog’s breeder, Berkeley Thompson, is my mentor. She taught me everything I know about Juniors and so much about just showing dogs in general. I still ask her for advice all the time. I have also worked for a few different
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