Showsight Express - July 1, 2021

JUNIOR HANDLER Q&A

Ultimately, what should matter in the Juniors ring is the bond that you exhibit with your dog, and how you can present it to the best of your ability.

that I attended in 2012, so to win this Best Junior in 2021 was a cool “full circle” moment for me. How do I accentuate my dog’s breed type in the ring? I always show my Goldens on a loose lead, just like the standard says. I will also, occasionally, fluff the tail. Goldens like to have fun in the ring, so I always keep it fun as well! Are some breeds better suited for Junior Showmanship than oth- ers? Ultimately, what should matter in the Juniors ring is the bond that you exhibit with your dog, and how you can present it to the best of your ability. That being said, there are certain breeds, such as a hands-on Sporting dog, that lend the opportunity to show the judge what you can do when compared to a mainly hands-off breed. There are many successful Juniors with all different types of dogs, so if you are willing to put in the extra work to fine tune your skills, any breed can make a great Juniors breed. Is there something that judges should know about judging Juniors? I like it when judges have us do something extra chal- lenging. For this reason, my favorite types of judges to show to are younger judges, fresh out of Juniors themselves, or judges who are current Professional Handlers. Judges should know that Juniors like to be challenged and that we appreciate any feedback! Have I bred or co-bred a litter? I have not co-bred a litter. Is breeding something that I’d like to pursue? In the future, I want to be a breeder/owner-handler of my own Golden Retriev- ers. My goal is to have fabulous, smart dogs that do well in the Conformation ring and also in the Field. Preservation breeding is something that is important to me. What are my goals for the future? Do I see myself continuing in the sport once I’ve aged-out? I definitely see myself being involved in dog shows and purebred dogs for the rest of my life. In college, I want to continue to spend my time learning and working for Professional Handlers. Can I share a word or two about my relationship with my cur- rent dog? My current Juniors dog, Sully, is incredibly goofy, and I love him so much! He has lots of energy, and I can see him trying so hard in the ring to be good for me. He always wants to please and he is a great companion. Is there a funny story that I can share about my experiences as a Junior Handler? I don’t have any specific moments, but I enjoy spending time with and laughing with my show friends. I always have such a great time with them, and we have had many memo- rable moments together!

How was I introduced to Junior Showmanship? When did I start competing? I became involved in Junior Showmanship through the Animal Inn Junior Showmanship program in Lake Elmo, Minne- sota. While taking Obedience classes at Animal Inn with our fam- ily’s Golden Retriever, my family found out that the training center offered classes specifically for Junior Showmanship. Once I turned nine, I started taking classes and attended my first show as a Novice Junior in January 2012. I have stuck with it ever since! What do I remember about the first time I showed as a Junior? I remember attending my first show and placing third in my Novice Junior class of about five. I was so excited! I was showing my pet quality Golden Retriever who had a lot of sass, so I was ecstatic that we’d won a ribbon. How do I prepare my dog and myself for the ring? I always start with a good show outfit, and make sure my dog is nicely groomed and in good condition. I always use the same show lead—and I don’t like to change it up—which could be considered my “good luck charm.” How do I assess my competition? Is everyone usually a good sport? Instead of assessing my competition, I like to focus on myself and my dog. I tune out those around me and focus on doing the best I can. Everyone is usually good sports, which is something I appreciate about Juniors. I am always sure to congratulate the win- ners as well! What about the judges? Do they seem to enjoy the Juniors ring? For the most part, I would say the majority of judges seem to enjoy the Juniors ring. I appreciate it when judges spend their time on Juniors by having us do a different pattern, face front, or do extra free baits. Occasionally, there are judges who seem to rush through and not care, which can be disappointing. Do I have a mentor in the sport? I have had many great mentors over the years, but two who stand out to me are Sandy and Dave Slattum, AKC RHP. Sandy was my first instructor at the Animal Inn program. She has not only taught me the basics, but continually helps me refine my skills. Assisting Dave Slattum has allowed me to expand my knowledge of different breeds. They are both support- ers of Junior Showmanship and I am grateful for their mentorship over the years. Are there any wins for which I am particularly proud? Making it to the finals at the 2020 AKC National Championships in Orlando, Florida, is one of my most memorable wins. I also recently won the “Midwest Top Junior Handler” award at the Land O’Lakes Kennel Club show. The Land O’Lakes Kennel Club show was my first show

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