On Sundays, we offer Junior Showmanship and Conformation handling classes. The fee is nominal for Juniors – $10 – or at no cost by special arrangement. If a youngster doesn’t own an appropriate show dog, one can be provided. We currently have 29 Junior Handlers and 2 PeeWees in the program.
The program is not just about winning and ribbons, although many of the juniors have gone on to great success in the sport. I have 12 students qualified for the 2021 Junior Showmanship Finals at the AKC National Championship show. This is the largest number of juniors from a single training program to qualify for the Finals in the history of the event. Six students from my program will be competing in the 2022 Junior Showmanship Finals at the Westminster Kennel Club show. Virtually every young handler competing in the Open division from my training program and nearly all are ranked in the national standings in their breed, their group or of all junior handlers in the country.
However, as exciting as winning is, the purpose of the program is far greater than that. The young people learn responsibility, self-reliance, time management, problem-solving skills, good sportsmanship as well as teamwork. They help and support each other, regardless of age. The juniors learn all aspects of dog care and dog show preparation and even the youngest child is responsible for getting their own dog groomed, trimmed and ready to go to the ring. And while the kids are competitive in the ring, that never carries over to friendships outside of the ring.
The Junior Showmanship program is open to youngsters ages 7 – 17 (Junior Showmanship competition age is 9 – 17/PeeWees under 9). Even if your child – and you! – are complete dog show novices, you’ll be welcome by the other students and their parents. It’s a VERY supportive group!
Finally, remember that the Junior Handlers of today are the purebred dog fanciers of tomorrow!
“I began showing dogs at age 11 in Junior Showmanship, an AKC event where a child is judged not on the quality of their dog but on how well they handle it and present it to the judge. Though I had a less-than-stellar representative of the breed (a Maltese), I was fortunate to be mentored by one of the greats in the breed. I was very successful in juniors and believe strongly that I have a responsibility to do the same for young people wanting to show today.” -Jody Davidson
It’s never too late to enjoy the sport of Dog Showing! If you’d like to give it a try or just begin to understand how the whole thing works, my weekly classes are a great place to start. Though my program was originally developed for junior handlers, over the past few years, numerous “Senior Juniors” have joined our ranks.
Many are people who have promising show puppies that they want to expose to the routine of the show ring. Others may be first-time handlers wanting to team better and feel more confident with their dog in the conformation ring. In a friendly, fun, supportive environment, newcomers are always welcome! Feel free to contact me for more information.