It was a regular routine for some, but a first time for many, including me. I’m talking about the Reliant Park World Series of Dog Shows held last weekend in Houston, Texas! The limited-breed and all-breed shows were the reason for my first visit to Texas and, for me, it meant having a chance to watch a group of dogs and handlers that I don’t often see.

A group of Toy junior handlers line up for their placements.

If you know me, then you probably can guess that I was at the junior ring, and I was happy to see a wide variety of juniors that I don’t get to see in the flesh on a regular basis. From the Novice to the Master class, it was great to see so many great handlers with smiles on their faces – win or lose!

This young handler enters the ring like a pro with her Brittany!

For those of you who may be wondering, the competition seemed different in Texas from what I’m used to seeing. I feel that on the West Coast, the toughest class at the moment is the Master class, but in the South the class with the highest entry and the toughest competition was the Open Senior class. From the girls to the boys, with big dogs and small, those handlers really had their work cut out for them. A placement, or even making a cut, was bound to put a big smile on a junior’s face!

Winner of the Open Intermediate class, Cameron Henson, and his Beagle ‘Daisy.’

Speaking of smiles, how about winning your Novice Junior class from a group of six the very first time you walk in the ring? Well, one young man was a standout in his class, and nothing but a natural handler! His dad was ringside providing support and couldn’t have been happier when his boy stood by the first place sign and gave him a number one sign with his index figure. His dad just smiled and chuckled. As I congratulated the father, he told me how it was his son’s first time in the ring and that he was very proud. How cool is that?

Gabriel Lopez won the Novice Junior class his first time in the ring!

In the end, Best Junior Handler went to the Master class winner with a very good partner as a junior dog – a Golden Retriever. These two, without a doubt, have a great connection with each other, and it showed in the ring.

Best Junior Handler from the Master class, Haley Curran.

Houston and these junior handlers remind me – and hopefully you – that Dogs Freakin’ Rule!