Best In Show Daily is pleased to publish the next installment of Junior Handlers’ Edition, our newest publication dedicated exclusively to Juniors. JHE will publish weekly and highlight different Juniors from around the Country and the World. Each week, we’ll select six accomplished Juniors, letting them tell in their own words & own formats what makes them “tick”. Our next group of Juniors is another great group working hard to master their craft and making positive contributions to the Sport & their communities. We think you’ll enjoy their insights & perspectives. JHE is very special to us and we hope to you as well. Join us as we salute the future of our sport, the Juniors.

Annika Dechert

My name is Annika Dechert, but most people in the dog-show world know me as “Ridgeback Girl.” I started showing in AKC juniors the day I turned nine and have been hooked ever since. I’m 17 now and only have one more year to compete as a junior, so I plan to enjoy every minute of it. I love dogs, I love competing, but most of all I love the friendships that I’ve made as a junior handler.

We live in central Wyoming, not in the middle of nowhere but way out there beyond, close to the end of the world. Our family operates a 1,000-acre farm, growing alfalfa, barley, wheat, and beans. This is a great place to live, but a tough place for dog showing.

I started my showing career with Sydney, a Rhodesian ridgeback bitch who didn’t like to show very much but was 100% safe in the ring. After about a year, I started showing Puck, an 18-month old ridgeback male. He and I showed together for six years in both breed and juniors and had lots of success. He finished 2009 #7 all-breed and #8 in breed and made the cut in huge entries at both Eukanuba and Westminster. We were also the #1 ridgeback juniors team five years running. Puck is now retired, so I show my smooth fox terrier, Percy, and my German shorthaired pointer, Trapper. I’ve really enjoyed learning to show dogs in the different groups and appreciating their different temperaments, training styles, showing styles, and grooming.

When I’m not in the show ring, you can usually find me on the volleyball court. I’m not able to show at all in the fall since our games are on the weekends, but I love the sport and sometimes we all need to make choices. Although I miss showing dogs during volleyball season, all my work paid off this year when I was chosen for the all-state volleyball team. In winter I play basketball, which is also hard since both Eukanuba and Westminster fall during basketball season. It’s tough, but we make it work, and it also paid off when I was chosen for the all-conference basketball team. I draw the line at track, though! I would much rather show dogs in the spring than run around in circles!

The biggest piece of advice I want to offer young junior showmen is to not take juniors too seriously. Have fun! Although I’m always thrilled with big wins, the best times I’ve had at dog shows haven’t been in the ring, but with my friends long after Best Junior is over. When you’re an adult, are you going to remember your wins, or are you going to remember cramming 22 junior friends into someone’s RV for an ice cream party after the show is over? The best part of juniors isn’t in the ring; instead, it’s the friends you make, from all walks of life and all around the country, along the way.

Amy French

My name is Amy French and I live in Melbourne, Australia. Our junior handlers is a little different to a lot of countries. We compete in 3 age groups here, but we stay in those classes no matter how many we win. We must keep our dogs between us and the judge at all times.

  • I currently compete in the 7-10 year age group, but after our state handling finals, I turn 10, so go into the 10 and under 13 group. The final group is 13-17.
  • I have been handling for just over 2 years and am currently #1 handler in my age group in my state on pointscore (and have enough points to be #1 in the next age group up as well.)
  • I like to handle HPR gundogs (mainly Weimaraners and GSPs) but have handled a lot of breeds from Pomeranians to Bernese Mountain Dogs.
  • I love reading BISDaily and seeing all the beautiful dogs and one day would love to have my own successful kennel. My heart breed is Labradors, but I love GSPs too as thats what my mentor has.


Hannah Firchow

I’m Hannah Firchow, I am 16 years old from the central coast of California. I found my way into dog shows in a bit of a unique way. My grandfather was a show photographer from the 1950′s through the late 70′s. His family (my mother and aunts and uncles) had purebred Samoyeds and Fox Terriers growing up. My grandmother was also a AKC judge, ring steward, and club officer. Some of my uncles showed Sammies in junior showmanship, but my mom never showed a dog. Fast forward 50 years. When I was about 11 years old, I found out there was a dog show held in my hometown. I brought my best friend, Ashley with me and we went to check out the show. Somewhere on that fairgrounds, both of us caught “the bug”.

In a few months, Ashley had her first purebred Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and was showing in juniors. I took more time to pick out the breed I wanted. After many months, I decided on my breed: the Cardigan Welsh Corgi.

In summer of 2010, I got my first (show) dog ever, Conifer Stuck on You, aka Linus. I showed Linus in juniors only for two years, when I began to get the urge to get his Championship. Linus got his first point at a supported entry in Northern California, and finished his CH a year later at another supported entry in September 2013. His first weekend out as a special, he was awarded back to back Best of Breeds and two Group 4′s at our home show, the very same show where I caught the dog show bug. We also won our first all-breed Best Junior Handler. In December 2013 he was awarded Best of Breed and Group 3 in Costa Mesa, CA. For the end of 2013, Linus was a top 25 Cardigan in all-breed points. Today, he only needs 7 points to finish his Grand Championship. Earlier this year, Linus and I made the final four at Sun Maid Kennel Club’s California Junior Handler of the Year competition for a $750 scholarship.

I have started a new project in Juniors, with English Cocker Spaniel GCH Cedarglen Monarch of the Glen, aka Max. Max and I were awarded 3rd and 4th place in very large Open Senior classes at the Woofstock festival in Vallejo CA, our very first weekend out together. Linus and I were also awarded Best Junior at Woofstock as well, qualifying for AKC/Eukanuba 2014. Linus and I are also in the top 20 Herding Group for juniors.

There are so many people that have supported me and my dogs on this dog show journey. I want to thank my parents for supporting & encouraging me every step of the way. I also want to thank some of my friends and mentors: Kelly Shane, Marian Mizelle, Karyn Convertini, and Angie Hall, my best friend Ashley Barnes, Max’s breeder Debbie Hoffman, and Linus’ breeders the Greig family. There are so many more. I couldn’t have done it without you! And if my grandfather was still here, I’d thank him too!


Alyson Layser

Hello my name is Alyson Layser. I am 17 years old and I live in Collegeville, Pennsylvania. I am an upcoming senior at Spring-Ford High School. I started showing dogs when I was 14 and since then have accomplished many things with my Havanese, Gracie. In the three and half to four years that I have shown, I have qualified for Eukanuba and Westminster each year. Currently, I am ranked number one Havanese junior handler, number one Toy junior handler, along with being the number four All Breed junior handler in the country.

My younger sister, Amanda, was the one who got me interested in dog shows. I started out co-owning a LC Chihuahua named Spirit. A couple months later I received a beautiful 7 month old Havanese puppy named Gracie from Sandy Moyer and Wayne and Mary Harding, and we have been a team ever since. Showing a Havanese is completely different from showing and taking care of a chihuahua, so I had to learn all the different methods of how to groom, show, and train a Havanese.

I have had many amazing moments in my dog show career. One of the best moments was receiving a group four with Gracie under Mrs. Arlene Benko. In addition, I have made multiple cuts at Eukanuba and Westminster. In my dog show career, I have over 25 best juniors against really talented competition.

Since my sister and I show most weekends, I don’t do many activities outside dog shows. After I age out of juniors in October, I am thinking about trying agility with Gracie. I do not plan on becoming a professional handler, but I would love to become a juniors judge and encourage more kids to enter the sport.

I am so grateful to have met so many knowledgeable people who have helped me throughout the years. I am so thankful to have met Sandy Moyer, who has helped me tremendously with grooming, training, and showing, along with providing me with my Gracie. I could not be the handler I am today without the help of Greg Strong, who has encouraged me and taught me so many things about so many different breeds. I would not be able to do any of this without my number one supporter and fan, my mom. Without her I would not be able to travel every weekend and reach the goals I have set for myself. These three people have taught me so much that will not only apply to the dog show world, but outside it as well.


Lydia Frey

It all started when I was 8 years old, and after watching dog shows on television and continually begging my mom for a show dog she accepted. We purchased our first show dog, a Standard Schnauzer bitch, named Piper from Georgia Sabean. Piper would be my first show dog, and the first dog that I finished. She became Ch. Asgard Ruby Red Dress, and from there I was hooked.

After several year of showing schnauzers I got into Bedlington Terriers, and was fortunate enough to get a puppy from and start being the assistant at LAMZ Bedlington Terriers owned by: Laurie Zembrzuski & Gaby Gilbeau. They would become my dog show family and help me get to the next level in dogs. I have been very fortunate to work with many successful handlers, and each have helped me become the handler that I am today.

Ranking: #2 Bedlington Terrier Junior

Memorable Wins:

National Specialty Best of Breed & Best Junior Handler – 2014 National with Multiple Group Winning NBISS GCh. LAMZ Eleanor Rigby CAA CGC RATI under Ms. Peggy Haas – August 15, 2013

Best in Sweepstakes – 2012 Bedlington Terrier National Specialty – Ch. LAMZ Upstaged The Bride CA

Finishing my first Bred By champion, Ch. Snowbrook One Of A Kind – Standard Schnauzer with 4 majors

Taking 2 different dogs to the top 10 Bedlington Terriers in the country, GCh. LAMZ Derby Day Mint Julep and my personal dog and best friend, Ch. LAMZ Let Them Eat Cake CA

1st Award of Merit – 2014 Bedlington Terrier National Specialty – Ch. LAMZ Let Them Eat Cake CA

My future is bright. I plan to have a job in marketing, as well as keeping 3-6 client dogs to show on the weekends. I hope that my client dog’s handling & grooming fees will cover my own personal dog’s fees to show. So that showing is of little to no cost to myself, and I also have my job to pay for my house and family.

I thank my parents for letting me leave horses and the family business to start showing dogs, and for continually supporting me and my endeavors. I also thank all my mentors and everyone who has helped me along the way, for giving me the opportunity to show such phenomenal dogs, and training me to become the handler, groomer, and dog woman that I am today.


All Juniors are welcome to contribute to JHE. We will select the Juniors for publication on a first-come, first-served basis.  The Junior Of The Week will be the first Junior submitted that sends a short article on themselves and photos.  The clock for submission starts each Monday at 8:00A PDT.