Junior Showmanship competition has been part of the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship since the first event in Orlando, Fla., in 2001. Junior handlers are invited to this annual event to demonstrate their expertise in handling and for the opportunity to receive a $2,000 scholarship towards their college education, plus recognition as a top junior handler.

Let’s take a photographic look back at the juniors who paved the way, starting with the very first BJH at the 2001 AKC/Eukanuba National Championship…

2001 and 2002 – Kristin Heiden with Great Dane Ch. Diamond Danes Light My Fire, at left, and 2003 – Jennifer Nee with Norwegian Elkhound Ch. Windy City High Plains. Photos © AKC.

2005 – Lauren McIlwraith with Siberian Husky Ch. Trepak’s Gossamer Wings, at left, and January 2006 – Michael Brunner with Standard Longhaired Dachshund Ch. Barkerville M’Aimez. Photos © AKC.

December 2006 – Lauren House with Saluki Ch. Srinagar Raga Bahar, at left in group photo, and 2007 – C.T. Giese with Border Terrier Ch. Towzie Tyke Laird O’Glenmore JE. Photos © AKC.

2008 – Dylan Kipp with Doberman Pinscher Ch. Paradigm Pop Sensation, at left, and 2009 – Demery Paladichuk with English Springer Spaniel Esspecial Honeymooner. Photos © AKC.

2010 – Katie Mazurowski with English Setter Ch. Indian Bend Only The Shadow Knows, at left. Photo © AKC. 2011 – Emma Grayson with Yorkshire Terrier GCh. Silkiss’d Let’s Rock. Photo © AKC-Robert Young.

Nine girls and two boys have won in the past years with only one repeat, in 2001 and 2002.

The most recent winner, Emma Grayson, whom you can read about here or here, is the only junior handler in history to win Best Junior Handler at Eukanuba with a Toy breed. On a side note, Emma is on the qualifying list once again this year, and we wish her and all 190 juniors competing the best of luck!

This year another junior handler will be named Best Junior Handler of the 2012 AKC/Eukanuba National Championship, so who will it be? Comment below with your good luck wishes, and check out our Best In Show Daily Facebook page to see ringside updates, photos and, yes, the winner from yours truly!

Oh, just one more thing…Dogs Freakin’ Rule!