Juniors: Your Support Is Needed
Is your breed in need of new, young breeders? Or should I ask, what breed isn’t at this point in time?
Junior Showmanship competition is where many active breeders and club members were originally introduced to our sport, whether as competitors or the parents who caught the dog-show bug while watching their junior compete.
If you are not familiar with Juniors in your immediate area, watch the Junior Showmanship Classes at upcoming shows and get to know who may be exhibiting your breed in your geographic area. Talk to the juniors and their families. Perhaps you may be able to assist or mentor them in your breed and assist them with developing a breeding program. A junior might also be an outlet for a dog you would like to place in a good home.
In addition to Junior Showmanship at conformation shows, the AKC National Junior Organization recognizes juniors who compete in companion and performance events with a certificate for each title earned. Juniors have been successful in every AKC event offered, earning master-level titles, competing on the World Agility Team, winning classes at the AKC Agility Invitational, as well as handling their dogs to VCD titles.
Robert Young ©AKC
Pass It Forward
Juniors are an integral part of our future. We need to foster their involvement in the sport and encourage them to be the guardians of our breeds in the future. To acquire the necessary skills, they require the guidance and mentoring that we were fortunate to have received from those who preceded us. Not a small task, but should we wish to have our sport survive as well as the breeds we each have worked to improve, your support is needed. As breeders, you may be able to assist or guide a committed young person who will influence your breed in the future. Your assistance is appreciated.
The AKC has offered Junior Scholarships for secondary education since 1995, having distributed well over $500,000. The past recipients have aspired to all types of careers, including genetic research, veterinarians, dentists, teachers, lawyers, computer-software developers, and CPAs, well as members of the AKC Registered Handlers Program. Most importantly, the majority of them are still actively involved as breeders, club members, exhibitors, and now judges of AKC events.
THEIR OWN WORDS
“AKC Jr. News,” the quarterly newsletter of the AKC National Junior Organization, features stories for juniors written by past and present juniors. In this excerpt from the January 2011 issue, talented young professional handler Lindsey Kuhn summarizes the importance of Junior Showmanship on her life and career.
“Winning is not the only fun part about this sport. The people I have met over the years and the things I have learned are priceless. Juniors really helped me come out of my shell and meet new people. It was nice to meet people my age who shared a common interest. Competing in Juniors really was the best tool for developing my handling skills, I learned how to handle multiple breeds and I learned how to compete to make my dog and me look our best.”
“My experiences in Juniors are what kept me involved in the sport of purebred dogs. I hope that I can help keep other juniors involved by offering advice, tips, and my friendship. I would like to get my license to judge Juniors when I graduate from college. I will also continue showing and breeding dogs to fulfill my passion. I plan to be a part of AKC events for the rest of my life, by taking part any way that I can.”
“Jr. News” is archived here. If you have questions or comments about the AKC Junior Showmanship program, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.