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Juniors Make Memories that Last Forever

As Junior Handlers, we all have what seems like a very short time frame to make lasting memories. For some of us, we have only eight or nine years in the juniors ring; others have even fewer.

I know, I know, eight or nine years sounds like a long time. But as the saying goes, “Time flies when you’re having fun!” And this is definitely true of the time spent in the Junior Showmanship ring.

For me, I have many fond memories of my time as a junior handler. My most revisited memories are of those wins that I really had to work for. The harder I had to work for a win, the more it meant to me. Even to this day, certain moments have stuck in my head when I honestly had no idea if I would be placed last or first in my class – everyone in the ring was just that

A few other great memories are of those really special wins. Winning at National Specialties and qualifying for the big shows are moments that I’ll never forget.

Qualifying to compete at the big shows are moments that many juniors will never forget.

Qualifying to compete at the big shows are moments that many juniors will never forget.

I had a chance to connect with current and former juniors who tend to agree with me that there is just nothing better than being recognized at your breed’s National Specialty and qualifying for shows like Westminster and AKC/Eukanuba.

Also, something “newer” that many current junior handlers are proud of is being rewarded those 10 first place wins to qualify to enter the Masters Class. And be proud they should!

Here are some of the memories that are sure to last forever:

Breed Wins:
Many juniors shared with me how fulfilling it is to win in the breed ring as well as in junior showmanship. Mainly it’s rewarding to win with the dog that you also show in juniors, but for some it’s also rewarding to show multiple dogs and to be recognized for handling with handlers other than juniors. I have to agree on this one.

Being Number One:
Perhaps the best accomplishment in your breed next to winning a National Specialty is to be ranked number one in the statistics for your breed. Heck, perhaps you can be tops in multiple breeds if you show more then one. Now that is quite an accomplishment and one that will definitely help make for a lasting memory.

One Last Time:
Lastly, the one thing that no one can ever forget is his or her very last time stepping into the Junior Showmanship ring. We all have either been there or will encounter this moment in the future, and there is just something special about it. It’s a kind of moment that is hard to describe in words, but it is truly unforgettable.

I’d like to extend a special thanks to everyone who took the time to reach out to me on this very special topic. Everyone has their own story, but in the end we all have one thing in common, and that’s the memories we create together with our dogs!

As always, feel free to comment below and tell all the DFR readers out there about your most memorable moments as a junior handler.

See, I told you! 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!"