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Be Ready for a Bitch in Season

For those of you who don’t know: as a junior handler you cannot show a bitch that’s in season. So what do you do when your girl comes in season in the middle of a dog show circuit or when you’re already at a show?

It’s good to have a backup plan if your regular juniors dog is a bitch because even though we can schedule for when our girls might come in, there are no guarantees on timing. However, when it does happen, we can have a plan in place to make our lives a little bit easier.

Junior handler Emily Montoya, who is normally seen in the juniors ring with her English Springer Spaniel, is shown here handling an English Setter.

Backup Plan 101
The best method is to have backup dogs. Yes, plural “dogs.” By this I’m not talking about literally taking extra dogs with you to the circuit. I’m saying that if you have other dogs that you take to shows with you besides your juniors dog, be sure to have your name on their papers. This is also good if something else unexpected happens. For example, if your dog isn’t feeling quite on its “A”-game or if it injures itself, it’s always good to have another dog in either your own setup or a close friend’s that you can work with and show.

Create the Opportunity
Not that not showing your dog is a good thing, but if something comes up and you’re unable to show your regular dog in the juniors ring, you can keep things on the positive side and learn how to show different breeds. I would suggest taking a long, hard look at what breeds interest you, and let’s face it, we all have a long list of breeds that we are interested in, right? I know I do, and the best way to get to know different breeds is by using a hands-on approach. Wouldn’t you agree? There have been times when I’ve thought to myself, “Oh, I would really like this breed.” But as soon as I get to know it and work with it, I quickly realize that breed just isn’t for me. The opposite goes for other breeds about which I’ve told myself, “I would never want to have that breed.” Then I had the chance to work with one, and I soon found myself falling in love with it.

So don’t be shy. Take the time to talk to the right people involved with breeds that interest you to see if they will help mentor you. Keep in mind that most of the time fanciers are more than willing to teach you about their breed and would also be happy to see a junior handler show their dogs in the juniors ring! You can also use this for specialty junior competitions. It can be a great way to get extra experience in the ring and possibly extra wins toward qualifying for the big shows. There are endless ways to create opportunities for yourself!

These are just a few things to keep in mind so you’ll be prepared for the unexpected. If you have any other ideas, leave a comment below and share your insights with everyone!

P.S. 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!"