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At the 2018 Brittany National Specialty, Paige Giebel and her Brittany, Turbo, were awarded the People’s Choice award.

“I was so honored to know that Brittany breeders and Brittany lovers chose Turbo as their 2018 People’s Choice winner,” says 16-year-old Paige.

That moment was the highlight of the teenager’s dog show career so far. Half her lifetime ago, at age eight, Paige first went to a dog show as a spectator.

“We just so happened to get there at the time when junior showmanship competition was happening, and I told my mom that it would be really cool if I got to do this sport,” Paige says.

Becoming a Junior Handler

Paige and her mom met with a few breeders, who recommended Paige should start with an experienced dog. “That I could just polish up on my skills and not have to train a brand new puppy,” Paige says. “So, we got in touch with a breeder, and they gave us Melanie, and the rest has been history.”

Melanie is now 11 years old and one of four Boston Terriers Paige owns: Coco (7), Troy (3), and Stacker (1). She also own a Boxer (Luna, 7) and four Brittanies: Dahlia (5), Pebbles (1), Bullet (1), and Turbo (3).

Today, Paige participates in Conformation, Junior Showmanship, Hunt Tests, Diving Dogs, Trick Dog, Coursing Ability Tests, and Canine Good Citizen (CGC).

“To be a good handler, I think it takes a soft hand, positivity, consistency, and always putting the dog’s health and well-being first,” Paige says.

Want to Get Involved?

The AKC Juniors program offers children under 18 an opportunity to develop their handling skills and learn about good sportsmanship, dogs, and dog shows.

Juniors are eligible to compete in Showmanship, Obedience, Agility, Rally, Tracking, Hunt Tests, Herding, Field Trials, Earthdog, Lure Coursing, Coursing Ability, and Coonhound Events. There is no minimum age requirement for sports other than Showmanship (where you must be nine).

If your child is interested in becoming an AKC Junior Handler, the first step is to watch a show and sign up for a class. Juniors under 18 years old can sign up for a Junior Handler number here. This number will be used to track their participation in AKC sports.

Except in Junior Showmanship, Juniors will exhibit in the regular classes and in the field along with all other exhibitors at the trials and tests, where they can obtain the same titles on their dogs and awards as adult handlers if they qualify.

Junior participation in AKC sports will be recognized through the AKC Junior Recognition Program and at the end of the year, AKC will award the Junior Versatility Awards and Scholarships. You can go to this link to learn more about the AKC Junior Recognition Program.

For more information, email your questions to Juniors@akc.org.

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