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Junior Spotlight

Junior Report: Octavia Stensen

My experience at Crufts was truly a moment to remember. Not only did I get to experience one of the most fantastic dog shows I’ve ever attended, but I had the joy of showing some beautiful dogs and representing my country in the International Junior Handling Competition.

My Mom and I arrived a few days early to acclimate to the time difference and see some sights in London. We took a train to Bermingham the day before the show began, to get settled before all the excitement.

On the first day of the show, a planned itinerary unfolded for the entire afternoon and evening. Starting with a delightful tea and lunch session shared among all juniors and their chaperones, the event progressed with each junior delivering a brief introductory speech. Excitement mounted as we discovered the breeds we would be showcasing in the upcoming junior competition. There was then a lively gift exchange, offering a glimpse into diverse cultures worldwide. Talking to other juniors about the qualification processes of junior participants from various nations at Crufts added another layer of fascination to the experience, highlighting the unique journeys each individual had undertaken.

The next morning was the day of the International Junior Handling Competition. I woke up so ecstatic it felt unreal. The day prior I found out I would be showing a Hungarian Vizsla which was my first breed of choice. For this competition you do not get to show your own dog. You chose three breeds in order of preference. Crufts then sources the dogs for the competition. We are only allowed to meet the dog one hour prior to showing. My vizsla’s name was Bebe and she was such a sweet girl. She was only 19 months at the time and I believe she was the youngest dog in the ring. She was so well behaved and her willingness to please shined. We were the last country to walk in the ring as we are alphabetically last. Even though we were showing first thing in the morning it felt like no other walking out in the group ring at Crufts. Bebe and I had plenty of time in the ring to bond as they didn’t make any cuts or send anyone out. After all of the juniors had gone the judge wrote down his top ten short list (that is what they call a cut) and then sent everyone out of the ring. We would find out who makes it in the short list later that evening at 6 pm when we would all return to the ring.

During the hours before I would show in juniors again Bebe’s owner, Julia, asked if I would want to show Bebe in the breed. I was over the moon to say the least. Bebe and I went second in a large class of 18. It was such a wonderful experience showing in the breed ring at Crufts. I always love new experiences and that was one for the books.

Later that evening, Bebe and I met one last time to show in the big ring. This time there was a big audience cheering. Bebe was perfect. As they called out the names for the short list all I could do was breath and know I had put my best foot forward. The United States was called to make it into the shortlist, an out of body feeling. This was such a large accomplishment for me. We were not placed in the top three but that was okay because I had made a beautiful bond with an amazing dog I would never forget. I had the experience of a lifetime and that is worth a thousand ribbons. Bebe took me further than I could have imagined. I cried as I said my goodbyes to Bebe and she licked away my tears in her Vizsla fashion.

My trip to Crufts was so fantastic and I cannot thank everyone enough who has helped me get to this point in my life. I am eternally grateful.