My Contribution to the Sport of Dogs

By Grace Freeman

I began showing dogs at the age of nine in my county's 4-H program. After being successful in the 4-H shows, I wanted to expand my horizons and joined the AKC. In AKC, I have competed in Jr. Showmanship, Conformation, Rally and Agility. Overall, I invest the majority of my time in Conformation and Jr. Showmanship. I am also part of the Standard Schnauzer, Golden Retriever, English Springer Spaniel and English Setter national breed clubs along with my local kennel club, Columbia Missouri Kennel Club.

As a Jr. Handler, I want to gain as much knowledge about the sport as I can. I submerge myself in books about dog shows and canine health. I try to srround myself with good mentors and ask questions when I feel that it's necessary. I think that every good handler needs extensive knowledge about every breed they present in the ring. This is especially important if a person shows multiple breeds like I do. As I am learning more about the different breeds and the tips and tricks of dog showing, I also like lending a  helping hand wherever I can. I help my Standard Schnauzer breeder teach the new owners of the breed how to properly groom and hand-strip their dogs. I have assisted in many handling clinics and have taught young children to older adults on how to perfect their skills in showing their dog. I often lend a hand to professional handlers. I believe one of the better places to learn the art of grooming and showing dogs is to work for a handler. Particularly, by helping a handler it allows me to work with breeds I might not have the chance to be around very often.

As a current Jr. Handler, I am very aware of the exceedingly competitive atmosphere. It saddens me that the Jr. ring is so aggressive that people forget to make friends. In contrast, I try to reach out to and support others. I strive to be a good example to others especially to the younger juniors. Moreover, my outlook on dog shows is to strive to be a role model and have a positive influence. I make an effort to aid anyone who needs help whether it be advice or to simply be someone's friend.