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Ever wonder how handlers get into conformation? Well, many of them start out in Junior Showmanship. And it turns out the kids have a lot to say! We chatted with 12 youngsters ranging from the ages of seven to 16 years at the annual Seattle Kennel Club (SKC) Dog Show at Centurylink Field on March 10 & 11, 2018, to get their take on Junior Showmanship and PeeWee classes as a stepping stone to the big leagues. One recurring theme we came across was that showing dogs is a family affair. With their faithful sidekicks in tow, we picked a couple of the kids’ brains to see what makes a junior showmanship competitor tick, and even got some tips and tricks or two along the way. Check out the dynamic duo juniors and their dogs we came across at the two-day show in the Pacific Northwest.

taylor-and-cattle-dog

Taylor Pulliam

Age: 8

Tell us a little about your dog?

She’s 12. She’s an [Australian] Cattle Dog. I have shown her in PeeWees. I’ve been showing in PeeWees for three years.

How did you get into showing?

My grandma. She shows Cattle Dogs — this is her dog.

What’s your favorite aspect of everything?

Showing!

tegan-and-greyhound

Tegan

Age: 7

Tell us a little about your dog.

Livingston is a Greyhound, and he’s five. He’s a good dog. Sometimes he sleeps with me. He likes to play and jump. He’s friendly and nice.

How did you get into showing?

Parents! My parents show too — different kinds of dogs. I’ve competed a lot before.

What’s your favorite aspect of everything?

Showing ‘em.

octavia-and-nb

Octavia

Age: 13

Tell us a little about your dog.

I’m walking a Norwegian Buhund. She loves people; she’s a real “people person” kind of dog. She’s a very loving dog.

How did you get into Junior Showmanship?

Octavia: We got a Norwegian Buhund, and our breeder wanted us to show her and so I kinda just got into Juniors from that.

Octavia’s mom: We came to this show three years ago, and she had a lesson with Tammie (then president of the SKC), and then we started showing after that.

Octavia: We said, “We can do this,” and it’s kind of a family affair now. I’ve been competing for three years.

What’s your favorite aspect of everything?

I just love being around all the dogs and all the people — it’s just fun being around everybody and see everything. It’s fun to see things behind the scenes because before, when I would come here (SKC), I’d be like,”Oh it’s just cute dogs,” and now I’m like, “Wow, there’s a lot more to this,” and it’s just a lot more fun when you know what’s going on.

phoebe-mini-american-shepherd

Phoebe

Age: 16

Tell us a little about your dog.

This is Pansy; she’s a Miniature American Shepherd. We just do Juniors; this is her second AKC show, so it’s really exciting.

How did you get into Junior Showmanship?

We learned about it in 4-H. A lot of my friends in 4-H also went into this. I did 4-H for seven years, but this is my first year doing AKC shows. When I was done with 4-H, I wanted to continue showing, so now I do it in AKC! I’d like to become a handler.

What’s your favorite aspect of everything?

All the people enjoying their dogs. Dog people are pretty awesome! They’re so nice.

max-and-st-bernard

Maxwell

Age: 16

Tell us a little about your dog.

Bruce is kind of a doofus — he’s a lot of fun to show. He’s got a loving personality; you pet him and he melts in your arms. He can be a little bit of a butt sometimes in the ring. We call him “your majesty” because he has to have everything right, otherwise he doesn’t want to show.

How did you get into Junior Showmanship?

I was looking for a second Saint Bernard — his name is Mickey. I came into contact with my mentor now, Christen, and she just kind of introduced me to the AKC world.

What’s your favorite aspect of everything?

Probably just getting in and showing. Even if you lose, you come out of the ring with new knowledge every single time.

Any tips or tricks for other young folks looking to get into showing?

I’ve learned a lot about Saint Bernards, like their head is the most important thing. Just have patience. There are going to be trying days no matter what breed you show, and you just keep working on it and you’ll keep getting better and better.

emma-and-cav

Emma

Age: 16

Tell us a little about your dog.

This is my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Bentley. He’s five. He’s been showing since he was a puppy; I got him when he was five months. We do 4-H too, so he’s been doing that for a while.

What’s your favorite aspect of everything?

I like the skills you learn from showing. Not only do you have to learn to be patient, but you learn to groom and handle dogs. It’s really fun to work with animals — it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve been showing for six years, and this is my third year doing AKC.

Any tips or tricks for other young folks looking to get into showing?

Your dog’s gonna do what your dog’s gonna do, and you gotta go with it. You can’t get mad in the ring if your dog isn’t doing what you want it too. You just gotta work with them.

charlotte-and-collie

Charlotte

Age: 9

Tell us a little about your dog.

I show a Smooth Collie named Comet. His real owner is away in college, so I now co-own him, and he’s shy.

How did you get into Junior Showmanship?

I started in 4-H as a primary and I loved working with dogs, so I started doing AKC shows. Once I did AKC, I just loved dogs even more, and now I’m a Junior!

What’s your favorite aspect of everything?

When you go to dog shows, you get to see all these different breeds and learn about them.

Any tips or tricks for other young folks looking to get into showing?

Start in 4-H. It really helps you practice.

dinke-and-pumi

Dinke

Age: 10

Tell us a little about your dog.

He’s a Pumi, and he’s almost over one year of age. He’s really active.

How did you get into Junior Showmanship?

Dinke: My mom made me do it. So far, I’ve only done two rings.

Mom: I’ve been doing conformation for between 12 and 15 years. I breed Cavaliers and Pumis.

What’s your favorite aspect of everything?

Getting to have fun with my dog!

caleb-and-bullmastiff

Caleb

Age: 14

Tell us a little about your dog.

He’s a Bullmastiff. He’s pretty active. He’s a champion. I’ve been showing him for, like, two years.

How did you get into Junior Showmanship?

My aunt got me into it. She shows him too.

What’s your favorite aspect of everything?

Stacking him.

kiley-and-pwd

Kiley

Age: 14

Tell us a little about your dog.

This is Zeus. He’s a Portuguese Water Dog. He’s four years old and has been showing since he was a puppy. I’ve been showing for about three-and-a-half years, but I’ve been showing with him for about two of those.”

How did you get into Junior Showmanship?

The breeder we got him from is into the AKC, so she kinda helped us through it. I knew I wanted to do stuff with dogs, so we decided to do this.

What’s your favorite aspect of everything?

Probably just having a connection with my dog.

kayellen-and-borzoi

Kayellen

Age: 11

Tell us a little about your dog.

His name is Monty; he’s a Borzoi, and my friend shows him. Because my dog went into heat, I needed a new dog to show in Juniors, so now I’m showing Monty! He has 18 AKC pet titles.

How did you get into Junior Showmanship?

When I moved here with my grandma, she was showing dogs, and she had taken me to dog shows when I was little, and I really liked the environment, and she asked me if I wanted to show and so now I show a black Norwegian Buhund (normally). I’ve been showing for a year and a half tomorrow. I really love the breed, and I also love this Borzoi. He’s very well mannered.

What’s your favorite aspect of everything?

The family environment. Everyone knows my grandma in the Buhund world, and it’s awesome. I just love the family aspect of it.

gabrielle-and-toller

Gabrielle

Age: 14

Tell us a little about your dog.

Rusty is a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. He’s very energetic and loves to play and meet people and socialize.

How did you get into Junior Showmanship?

I got into Junior Showmanship because one of my friends owned a Toller and I went over to her house and really fell in love with the breed. She shows her dogs and she was in 4-H, so I eventually got into 4-H which led me here.

What’s your favorite aspect of everything?

Mostly just being with my dog and getting to hang out with them the whole time. Being able to do so many things like agility, conformation, and dock diving.

Any tips or tricks for other young folks looking to get into showing?

Don’t get too competitive, because it’s a fun sport. You can be competitive, you know everyone wants to win, but really just try to have fun with your dog because that’s what counts — making them happy. You’re not going to do well if they’re not happy.

Learn more about Junior Showmanship and how to get involved here.

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