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Junior Handlers Deserve Recognition at Every Show

This is not the first or last time that I will be blogging about “the future of our sport.” Yes, I’m talking about our up-and-coming junior handlers, not only in conformation, but in performance sports as well.

At a recent event where I thought a lack of support for our younger fanciers was pretty obvious, I realized that this kind of slight probably happens more often than we all would like to think.

In brief, I believe that every single Best Junior Handler winner should at least be offered by the club, superintendent or show chairman the chance to have a presentation during the Groups or before Best in Show to highlight his or her special win and to support the future of our sport.

At a very large show I attended recently, I was on a mission to find out exactly when the presentation would be held, to guarantee that I wouldn’t miss out on being there to see it. Come to find out that there actually wouldn’t be a presentation, nor was the junior handler offered a chance to showcase the win.

I was completely baffled and took it upon myself to talk to the superintendent, who then directed me to the show chair who heard me out, and agreed that there was no reason they shouldn’t have a presentation. He then told me he would make sure it would happen. At that point I was relieved and happy to hear that the best junior would get a chance to showcase the win before the large crowd. Sadly, as the Groups proceeded, it became more apparent that the presentation would, in fact, not be happening.

Now, this is no one’s fault in particular, but I felt like I needed to share my story and suggest that the Best Junior Handler, or a parent, or judge, can always ask the club for a presentation during Group judging.

I reached out to a handful of junior handlers to find out exactly where things went wrong. I asked them this: “As a junior handler, have you been offered a presentation in the past or do you take it upon yourself to do so yourself?” I was not surprised to hear that the majority of juniors are not offered the presentation and, for the most part, they take it upon themselves to ask the judge if they would be able to do so. Also a few juniors mentioned that they never thought about asking the judge, nor have they ever seen a presentation for BJH! I couldn’t believe it.

On the upside, a few juniors mentioned that in the past they were offered not only a presentation, but they held the BJH ribbon until the official presentation. I think that’s how it should always be!

Sadly, sometimes one voice isn’t enough. So I’m writing this blog to be a voice for every junior and young fancier out there who deserves his or her chance in the spotlight!

As if you didn’t know … 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!"
Comments
  • Ann MacKay November 29, 2012 at 10:15 AM

    Thank you! Now I know what to add to my show in January! I chair a Herding Group Specialty Club show, and I do think it is important to encourage juniors. I came to the sport as an adult, so I was never a Junior handler. I do think hard about appropriate trophies for them, and ways to honor them. But it actually never occurred to me to offer a presentation before the Group. Now I will! Thanks for bringing this to my attention!

  • Jolyn Owen November 29, 2012 at 10:42 AM

    I would just like to say, Congradulations and good luck to Roxeanne Bashor, and Her Australian cattledog who qualified and is going to Eukanuba! We have seen this girl grow and develop into a wonderful person and handler, Best of Luck!

  • Patty Harbison November 29, 2012 at 10:52 AM

    Kayla, I absolutely agree with your main point, and only want to know, why did you not name the show in question?? Negative publicity is a GREAT way to change bad behavior. You probably were afraid of ruffling feathers, but maybe they should have been ruffled.
    I recently attended a 4-day cluster in Priceville Alabama. One of the kennel clubs involved (sorry, not sure which one) not only did a very nice presentation of Best Junior before BIS, they also gave a $2,000 SCHOLARSHIP to the winner. This is the same size as what AKC hands out at Eukanuba!

  • Randy Paladino December 7, 2012 at 10:13 AM

    Kayla, good point, it seems that at the shows after Junior Show Showmanship is over that is it, it’s over! I guess my club is the same! My wife always tries to watch the competition at shows we attend and applauds the Jr. Handlers. As we know many Jrs. and many former Jrs., our son started showing in Jrs. has gone on to become a Jrs. Judge and is still showing dogs, as are many other former Jr: Handlers. I know sometimes the Best Jr. Handler has left the show grounds before BIS, but I am going to bring this up at our next Kennel club meeting and make sure we can do something. A nice go around the Ring before BIS would be great, it would also be nice to have all of the 1st place winners included. Thank you for another informative article!

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