By Katrina Davis
I began participating in AKC Junior Showmanship as a bit of a late bloomer. .. at the ripe old age of twelve! Dogs and dog shows had always been a passion of mine, but I waited several years before attempting it.
My family says I've been obsessed with dog shows from an early age. Watching the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on television is an annual event for us. One year, when I was about three or four years old, I blurted out "I want to do that! I want to show dogs!" and pointed to the handler and dog team on the screen. A few years later, the dream became a reality. I became involved in my local 4-H dog program as a nine year old. There I learned the basics of showmanship and obedience. Upon hearing how interested I was in AKC, my 4-H advisor got me involved and I handled in Novice Junior at an AKC show for the first time in 1998. After that, I was hooked! I moved up to Open Junior in 1999 and then to Open Senior, where I competed, usually in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana, until I turned eighteen in October 2003 and could no longer compete.
The show that I will never forget was the first day of the Steel Valley Cluster in Canfield, Ohio in 2002. I had already been there for two days participating in the Italian Greyhound National Specialty, and would be going home that day. Open Senior was a pretty large class - over thirty exhibitors, and the weather was extremely hot. With the heat and the huge class that was filled with many top Junior Handlers, I didn't think I had a chance. Lady (my Italian Greyhound) showed beautifully. We made cut after cut and wound up in fourth place. I was ecstatic! That show meant more to me than any other show, including shows I won. I will never forget making it through the high temperature and placing in such a large class!
I am looking forward to getting another Italian Greyhound soon that I will be able to handle in the breed ring. My plans for the future include breeding Italian Greyhounds and Manchester Terriers. I am looking into possibly handling dogs professionally, as well. Eventually, I would like to become a Junior Showmanship judge and an all-breed judge.
Dogs have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. AKC has offered me many opportunities and taught me many things about life. I will certainly continue to be involved in the fancy.