JUNIOR HANDLER Q&A
I really appreciate judges who not only take the time to judge and examine the handlers and dogs, but who also have fun while in the ring.
actually the first person to show dogs in my family. I show Bulldogs, and have been for six years. How was I introduced to Junior Showmanship? When did I start competing? I was introduced to Junior Showmanship at around eight years old, after I started to compete in puppy matches and conformation shows. As soon as I turned nine years old, I started to get into Juniors, and have been loving it ever since. What do I remember about the first time I showed as a Junior? I used my old Juniors dog, Gemma, and I won Best Junior; really young. I didn’t know how big a deal it was because I was so new to it. How do I prepare my dog and myself for the ring? I bathe my current show dog, Olive, the day before the show. Once I get to the show site, I groom her and potty her… then we practice. I always have to make sure she’s cool (fan, water, cool coat) before going into the ring. This makes me feel as prepared as possible before perform- ing in the ring. How do I assess my competition? Is everyone usually a good sport? I always watch the classes before I go in, to see what the judge is looking for and to see how well the competition executes it. For the most part, everyone is very supportive and positive. What about the judges? Do they seem to enjoy the Juniors ring? I really appreciate judges who not only take the time to judge and examine the handlers and dogs, but who also have fun while in the ring. Do I have a mentor in the sport? Have I assisted any Profes- sional Handlers? Yes, I do have a mentor who has taught me almost everything I know and, with his support and guidance, has taken me so far. I have assisted Professional Handlers a few times when they’ve needed an extra hand, and have enjoyed the learning and growing experience. Are there any wins for which I am particularly proud? My most memorable and proud moment was making the finals for the West- minster Junior Showmanship competition in 2020. Also being the #1 Bulldog Junior Handler and #1 Non-Sporting Junior Handler in the nation, currently. How do I accentuate my dog’s breed type in the ring? I accen- tuate the Bulldog in the ring by showing off her best features and highlighting the important parts of the breed such as the head, front, and rear. Bulldogs should be very vigorous, strong, equitable, courageous, and kind. They should be a medium-sized dog with a “heavy, thick- set low-swung body.” They should also have wide shoulders and very sturdy limbs. In the Bulldog conformation ring, we face the dogs front and inward to the ring; so that way the judge can see the dog “head on.” This is important so that the judge can determine which dog would fulfill the job it was bred to do; bullbaiting. Are some breeds better suited for Junior Showmanship than oth- ers? I think that with any breed you grow up with or love to show— no matter how hard or easy it is to train—you should be able to be a team in the ring. I show a Bulldog, which isn’t the most flashy or common breed to show in Juniors, yet I still love the sport and also love working with my partner in crime, Olive. Is there something that judges should know about judg- ing Juniors? Are all judges the same? No judge is the same, no
matter how many times you’ve gone into the ring. But I do think that every judge should know that Juniors is not about which dog looks the prettiest; it’s about how the handlers show their breed according to the breed standard. Have I bred or co-bred a litter? Though we’ve assisted our breed- er in breeding some of our females, we’ve never done it solely our- selves. It is something we might consider doing in the future. Is breeding something that I’d like to pursue? Breeding isn’t my focus right now, but I understand its importance. Breeding dogs that fit the standard is crucial to continue improving the breed. What are my goals for the future? Do I see myself continuing in the sport once I’ve aged-out? My goal is to win the Westminster Junior Showmanship competition and/or to win my first Best in Show. I do see myself continuing in the sport once I’ve aged-out, because I would enjoy learning about other breeds. Can I share a word or two about my relationship with my cur- rent dog? My dog, Olive, means everything to me. All the hours of hard work and practice together have made us a strong and con- nected team. We have accomplished so much together and have continued to grow. She is stubborn, smart, and sometimes, crazy. But all of those traits are what I love about her. She enjoys showing and being in the ring, and she has a passion for it as I do. Is there a funny story that I can share about my experiences as a Junior Handler? When I was grooming her, getting ready for the finals at Westminster, she drew quite a crowd of spectators. People loved her flashy purple-sequined cool coat, and were enamored with her. So many people asked to take pictures of her, and she loved every minute of it! I guess she was born to be on camera; a natural superstar. ALISON YOHO My name is Alison
Yoho, and I compete in Junior Showmanship with Golden Retrievers. I am currently 18 years old, and enjoying my last year as a Junior Handler. Compet- ing in Junior Showman- ship has taught me about dedication and confidence
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as well as connecting me with people I consider lifelong friends. I live in Stillwater, Minnesota, and attend St. Croix Preparatory Academy. Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? In addition to dog sports, I play soccer for my school’s varsity team. I also have a horse, and ride for fun. In the summer, I work at a local strawberry patch for about two weeks during the picking season. Have I grown up in a doggy family? What is my breed? My fam- ily has always had purebred dogs and participated in Field Work and Obedience with them, but never Conformation. I was the first one in my family to dabble in Conformation, but now my entire family is involved! My breed is the Golden Retriever.
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