Showsight Express - July 1, 2021

JUNIOR HANDLER Q&A

Movement is very important when showing our breed. While the Corso is not a small breed, they need to move lightly, almost effort- lessly. I also love it when the judges are impressed by Royal’s tem- perament. He is a very good ambassador for the breed. Are some breeds better suited for Junior Showmanship than oth- ers? I don’t think that it matters which breed you are showing. It’s the bond between the handler and the dog that matters. It shows in the ring. Have I bred or co-bred a litter? I was always involved with whelp- ing and raising litters. I love seeing the little newborns turn into playful puppies. Raising a litter of puppies teaches you a lot. You must be responsible and compassionate when taking care of them. You cannot slack or cut corners. My mom used to say that a puppy is as good as the care it received. I’ve learned that this is so true. Is breeding something that I’d like to pursue? I am not sure if I want to breed. Right now, my plan is to be a dog chiropractor, and even to have a rehabilitation facility and sport medicine. I love interacting with dogs of all breeds. And if I can help them feel bet- ter, I would love to do it. What are my goals for the future? Do I see myself continuing in the sport once I’ve aged-out? I hope to continue showing. I enjoy showing my dogs, but I don’t think I want to be a Professional Han- dler; just to continue doing it for fun. Can I share a word or two about my relationship with my cur- rent dog? My Royal is a once-in-a-lifetime dog. He is my soul mate. We do everything together. There is nothing he cannot do, and this challenges me to do multiple things and to do them well. Royal is a true Corso, with the most stable temperament and endless capabili- ties. He is a dog that can show, do protection, compete in obedi- ence, rally, fast CAT, and be a therapy dog. I’ve learned so much by working with him. Is there a funny story that I can share about my experiences as a Junior Handler? One time, I forgot to change my shoes before entering the Owner-Handled Group ring. I was wearing bright pink Crocs with a blue suit. I ended up winning OH Group One that day. I guess those are my lucky Crocs. MIKALA SEYMOUR I live in Plainfield, Wis-

started focusing on Junior Showmanship, Obedience, and Rally work. I started competing in AKC Juniors when I was nine; my first few shows were St. Bernard Specialties and our National. What do I remember about the first time I showed as a Junior? I showed our big St. Bernard, Korbel, at our National in Nebraska. Everyone commented on how good I did with such a big dog; he was very gentle and listened so well to me. I was lucky to have him as my first Juniors dog. (A good temperament is so important when first starting out.) How do I prepare my dog and myself for the ring? I focus on my dogs, really love them up, and get them excited to show and focus on me. I work a couple of free stacks and I always kiss my dogs’ nose before gaiting them. I really don’t have any good luck charms, but I definitely have my favorite suits to show in and my favorite leads for each dog. How do I assess my competition? Is everyone usually a good sport? I am friends with most of the Juniors I compete with. I stay by the ring and watch how they handle; you can always pick up little tips from others. Yes, most of the competition are good sports. We all seem to have multiple dogs to show as we’ve gotten older, and we all help each other out when we can. Most of my best friends are at dog shows. What about the judges? Do they seem to enjoy the Juniors ring? Most of the judges really enjoy judging Juniors. I’ve only had a few who really didn’t seem to enjoy it, and those I usually don’t show to again. The best Junior judges are patient and kind to the new Juniors, and they offer tips, advice, and encouragement. I like it when judges are pleasant in the ring, smiling, and clap for Juniors on the final go-around. It shows a lot of class. Do I have a mentor in the sport? Have I assisted any Professional Handlers? My mom is my Number One mentor. She got me started and is always there for me, offering tips and advice—even when I don’t want to hear it. She’s always encouraging me and helping me with new breeds and opportunities. I’ve worked with a few handlers and they are all great; very supportive of me in my Juniors career, offering grooming and handling tips. I’ve learned the most from Danielle Goodland-Rose, Monica Lamontage, and Danielle Fryk- man. They’ve given me opportunities with many dogs and taught me a lot about grooming. One handler whom I really look up to, inside and outside the ring, is Elizabeth Salewsky. She shows my breed, St. Bernards. She’s an amazing person and friend. We have a lot in common with being tall, playing sports, and showing dogs. She is a blast to be with at our Nationals. Are there any wins for which I am particularly proud? My most memorable win was making it to the final eight at Westminster last year with my St. Bernard, Ellington. It’s something I’ve always dreamed about, and to make it to Madison Square Garden was amazing, truly an honor. It was even more special because my mom and younger brother and sister were there to cheer me and Elling- ton on. Another truly memorable win came last year in Orlando, when my Field Spaniel, Riley, won Reserve Best in Show Owner- Handled. Just recently, my Field Spaniel won back-to-back Bests in Show at a UKC Show on Mother’s Day. (I’m still amazed at my Riley and how far he’s come.) No real memorable losses; I just tend to go with the flow and move on to the next show. How do I accentuate my dog’s breed type in the ring? Every Junior should know the breed standard for the dog they are show- ing. With my St. Bernard, Ellington, I really show off his beautiful head and movement. I stack him slightly angled to show off his head and front; as our breed standard mentions, proportionately tall, strong, imposing, and with an intelligent expression. He moves effortlessly, so I always make sure that I’m in the front of the line so that I can really move him best. I’ve also really worked Elling- ton, and he now has an amazing free stack for me, which is very difficult to do with a St. Bernard. People think St. Bernards are

consin, a small town of about 900 people. I go to Almond Bancroft High School. Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? Do I have a job? I play Varsity Volleyball and Bas- ketball, and play on a Travel League for Volleyball during our off-season. I love music and I sing in our school choir. I enjoy swimming and water

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sports. I work at a local supper club as a salad maker, busser, and dishwasher. I also help my mom with her cleaning business during the summer. Have I grown up in a doggy family? What is my breed(s)? Yes, my grandparents had St. Bernards and my mom started showing when she was three years old; she showed in 4-H and AKC and was a top Junior for St. Bernards back in her day. My aunts also showed dogs in 4-H. How was I introduced to Junior Showmanship? When did I start competing? My mom is a judge, so I would go with her to judging assignments when I was little and I’d help her hand out ribbons. I started in Conformation, taking our St. Bernards in when my mom needed help. Then, when I was old enough, I started 4-H and really

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