JUNIOR HANDLER Q&A
You need to work with any breed that you are going show and you need to be comfortable with that breed.
breedings for type, size, structure, movement, and temperament. Dogs need to be bred to their standard for form and function; they should be able to do what their ancestors were originally bred to do. 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 will always include dogs. This year, my goals are to compete well at Westmin- ster and the AKC National Championship show, and to finish out the year ranked in both the Sporting and Working Groups. I plan on attending college where I will, hopefully, be able to play volley- ball. I’ve taken an interest in massage therapy and chiropractic, so my goal is to earn a Bachelor of Science Degree and pursue a Chi- ropractic Degree. I hope to be able to convert both massage therapy and chiropractic care over to animals, and be able to work with humans and dogs and other large animals. While attending college, I hope to still attend dog shows on weekends. My younger brother and sister started showing, so I’ll definitely be encouraging them. Can I share a word or two about my relationship with my cur- rent dog? Ellington, my St. Bernard, is my “baby.” I’ve had him since he was 12 weeks old. I’ve done all the training with him and put all of his titles on him. He’s my dog. He’s in tune with me in the ring; he watches me for cues. Outside the ring, he’s my best friend. He knows how I’m feeling and when I need to be cheered up. He’s a very intuitive dog and has a great personality. He loves everyone. He’s truly special and is my heart dog. Riley, my Field Spaniel, I own; meaning I am his person. He lights up when I come home from school and does this crazy happy dance. At shows, he likes to snuggle up on my lap or on the camper bed. Riley respects me and we have a special bond. He won’t show for anyone else... or at least show like he does for me. Both dogs are very special to me as are all the dogs I show. I try to have a special connection with them all. There’s just something so special about Ellington, and all the places we’ve been, and all the opportunities and success that we’ve had together. It’s hard to put this into words. Is there a funny story that I can share about my experiences as a Junior Handler? Not really a handling story, but one time at a dog show, Ellington pulled me over to a lady in a wheelchair. (He thought it was my grandma, who’s also in a wheelchair.) It caught her by surprise when he nudged her arm. It turns out she had lost her own dog that past week, and Ellington’s love was just what she needed. After that, I began working Ellington as a Therapy Dog. Last year, right before the COVID shut down, he passed his Ther- apy Dog Test. BRIELLE VILLAREAL I live in Elk Grove, California. I
difficult to show, but they are not, really, compared to other dogs I’ve handled. With my Field Spaniel, Riley, I show off his topline and shoulder layback. He’s always happy, so getting him to stand still is a challenge at times. Riley was a Craigslist rescue, so I’ve really had to work with him; he never knew how to run or gait, and we’ve finally gotten consistent, fluid movement with his head up. The Field Spaniel is presented on a ramp. When I stack him, I’m kneeling, so it’s a lot different than with my St. Bernard. But I still hold both dogs’ heads, and run my hand down their toplines, show- ing off their best features. Are some breeds better suited for Junior Showmanship than oth- ers? No, I believe that if you have a good bond with your dog and truly love it, this will shine through. You need to work with any breed that you are going show and you need to be comfortable with that breed. When I first started, I was told to get a Sporting breed to be more competitive. So, I did... and I learned quickly that judges appreciated the skills needed to show my St. Bernard. So, Elling- ton was my main show dog for Juniors. I still work my German Shorhaired Pointer in Juniors and in Breed, but since Ellington has gotten older, I’ve been focusing on my Field Spaniel. But honestly, there’s a special connection with Ellington and it’s noticed when I walk in the ring with him. So, the best advice is to find a dog that you are comfortable with, love, and can build a connection with. The breed doesn’t matter; anything is possible if you dream it and work for it. Is there something that judges should know about judging Juniors? Are all judges the same? Judges should understand that all breeds are worked with and shown differently. Not all dogs are bred to free-stack or be shown that way. Judges should be looking at the handling. Can the Junior continue working with their dog even if the dog is being a little difficult, such as fidgety feet? Is the Junior staying calm with their dog, not jerking the leash a lot or being heavy-handed? They should be looking to see which Juniors are truly enjoying showing their dog. Judges are not all the same; we keep a notebook of the judges we show to, and note what they like and don’t like. (A few judges who don’t like drool, I show my Field Spaniel to instead.) Have I bred or co-bred a litter? When I was seven years old, I helped to whelp my first litter. I’ve assisted my mom with some AI breedings and we are going to breed a litter this fall. I’ve learned about health testing in various breeds that I show. Through some of my breed mentors and educational seminars at nationals, I’ve learned about progesterone testing, genetic markers, gestation, and birthing difficulties. I’ve also helped to evaluate a few litters and attended seminars on canine structure and movement. Breeding is not easy and it’s not something that should be taken lightly. A lot of planning and preparation goes into good breeding. Is breeding something that I’d like to pursue? Yes, definitely. I currently have two female St. Bernards, and we are planning to breed them this fall. We’ve been waiting for the right stud dog, as both my mom and I are very selective on type and tempera- ment in our breed. My Field Spaniel will begin health testing and, hopefully, next year, he will produce a nice litter with our mentor’s bitch. Preservation is very important to me, as I’ve seen through my mom’s past dogs and those of my mentors the importance of quality
just finished middle school and I’m off to attend Sheldon High School in the fall. Do I have any hobbies or inter- ests apart from purebred dogs? Do I have a job? I do not have a job, but I also love to act/sing (do musical theater). I also enjoy painting! Have I grown up in a doggy family? What is my breed(s)? I am
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