My Experience in Junior Showmanship
By Zia Zografos
I’ve been involved in the dog show community for two years now. I have my mother to thank for this, as she suggested I try showing, since I might enjoy it. At the time I was strictly a dedicated cat lover (still am), but I thought what was the harm in trying something new. So we packed up the old dog-show-mobile and drove for two days up north into Oregon. That trip really inspired me to show more. When we got back home, I started going to classes and joined Junior Handling.
When I first started showing I was incredibly shy and, looked very uncomfortable in the ring. I had a very limited vision of what a dog show entailed, even though my mother has been showing for twenty-something years. I walked into this indoor stadium thinking about the movie Best in Show, and hoping for the best. To be fair, the atmosphere of my first show was very high-strung. It was a frantic, jam-packed room filled with people brandishing brushes, dogs upon dogs who sat idly next to their owners, and the owners themselves who stood with strained eyes and ears, watching their competition. I walked into that ring with little confidence and shaky hands, and quickly found something that I never realized about myself- I did not like being closely watched. But then comes the part where you get to parade around the ring like a float, and that is my favorite. Running off the nerves helps immensely, and I remember feeling free and light- even thought I probably did not look it. By the end of it I came in second out of two, but I barely cared because I felt that I had shown well for my first time in the ring. I always try to remember this, that I am showing for the purpose of spending time with my dog and to have fun. Obsessing over winning I feel only ruins the experience, although it is nice to win for your efforts, should not be the main focus.
My Juniors dog, Lana, is one of the sweetest dogs we’ve ever had. She has such a loving energy, and a willingness to please. Although, I’m sure she would rather be chasing rabbits on a field, she puts up with playing the show dog for a weekend for us. It is a privilege to be able to show with her.
Overtime the general nervousness of showing started to wear off, and I started to have fun. The days that I get to spend with my dogs, my mom and dog family are the days that I look forward to the most. My breed is Saluki, and they have been in my family since before I was born. Growing up as an only child, my dogs were basically my “furry brothers and sisters”. I love being able to road trip around to different shows and travel to new places with my family by my side, and those times are irreplaceable.