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AKC/Eukanuba’s Best Junior Handler Is a Repeat Winner

It’s a great honor to win Best Junior Handler at the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship, and even greater to win twice! In fact, it has only ever happened once before. This year 17-year-old Emma Grayson Echols took the top prize for the second year in a row!

Emma is not only talented, but she hopes to continue learning, showing and expanding her horizons into the sport! Learn all about how it feels to be a two-time winner, not only as Best Junior handler, but also as the Top Toy Junior Handler! Emma also has the chance to represent the USA for the second time at Crufts this year.

Emma Grayson Echols goes Best Junior Handler for the second year in a row with her 4-year old Yorkie ‘Tucker’ GCh. Silkiss’d Let’s Rock from the Open Senior class.

Best In Show Daily: How does it feel to win Best Junior Handler at the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship for the second consecutive year?

Emma Echols: It’s amazing! Last year was mind-blowing, and this time it’s even more mind-blowing. I never imagined I’d win it once, so winning it twice is truly incredible.

BISD: Everyone want’s to know… do you have plans to represent the USA for the second year at Crufts 2013?

EE: Yes! I will be attending Crufts again in March. I already bought the plane tickets!

BISD: With less than a year left in Juniors, do you plan to continue showing in hopes to qualify for AKC/Eukanuba 2013 and Westminster Kennel Club 2014?

EE: Yes, I will be attending as many shows as possible before I age out in April so I can qualify for Westminster 2014. I won’t participate in the 2013 Eukanuba.

Emma and her Yorkie Tucker await judge Bill Shelton’s examination.

BISD: Now that you have multiple scholarships, two of which are from Eukanuba, toward your college education, what do you plan to do after you graduate from high school?

EE: Once I graduate, I plan on spending the summer possibly expanding my knowledge on other breeds and learning how to groom and handle them. Then I’ll be attending college for two years at Gainesville, then moving to the University of Georgia for my last two years of college.

BISD: Not only are you the first junior to win with a Toy breed, but now you have done it twice! What words of advice do you have to say to all of the other juniors out there with Toy breeds?

EE: You CAN do big things with small dogs! Don’t feel pressured to switch to a bigger breed because you feel like Toy juniors aren’t as popular. Many judges know how difficult Toy breeds are to handle and will commend you for your hard work.

BISD: Also, congrats on being the Number 1 Toy Junior Handler for the second year in a row! How do you feel knowing you have represented Toy juniors so well?

EE: It’s a huge honor! I have worked very hard to come as far as I have, and I’m proud of myself. I hope I can influence other Toy juniors to never give up.

Emma holding her latest Top Toy Junior Handler rosette. Photo courtesy of Emma Grayson Echols.

BISD: Did you have any close friends with you in the final competition? Tell me a little bit about that experience.

EE: Yes, I had three very close friends in the ring with me: Kylie Soafer, Daniel Fabelo and Kristin Lawless. All three have been very close to me for a while. Kylie being the longest, as I’ve been great friends with her since I started showing. It’s great having your friends in the ring with you! Relieves you of some of the pressure and makes you feel more comfortable.

BISD: Upcoming shows? Will you be attending the Garden?

EE: I will be doing my usual local shows that come every year at the beginning of the year, and you can definitely expect to see me at the Garden!

BISD: Who was there to support you through your second Best Junior at Eukanuba? Anyone who wasn’t able to see you win last year?

EE: I had all my great junior friends there to support me and my mother there again.

BISD: Were you able to enjoy other events at AENC or were you totally focused on preparing for and competing in your sport?

EE: I was busy most of the time with juniors and conformation, but I got to watch some agility and dock diving briefly

BISD: And finally, any last words?

EE: I’d like to thank Mari-Beth O’Neill for all the hard work she puts in for all of us juniors, to the finalist judge Mr. William P. Shelton for honoring me with the wonderful win, and a big thank you to my parents for supporting me all these years!

Thank you to Emma for her time. We send her a big congratulations from all of us at Best In Show Daily. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for her!

Dogs Freakin’ Rule!

Written by

Kayla Bertagnolli is a 23-year-old from Ogden, UT, who's been involved in the dog show world her whole life. A former junior handler who learned about breeding Beagles from her mother Leah, she assisted several professional handlers and is currently working to become a Junior Showmanship judge. Kayla is passionate about photography and writes the twice-weekly blog, DFR. She plans to continue breeding and showing, and expects to stay involved in dogs "for life!"
  • Jaimee December 21, 2012 at 9:08 AM

    She is spectacular! What an inspiring young woman! I’m sure she’s a crowd AND judge favorite!

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