What Being in Junior Showmanship has Taught Me
Last year a cannon went off in the stadium next to the show grounds as the juniors were about to enter the ring. Buddy became so frightened that it took three months for him to regain confidence enough to stay on an examining table.
Buddy and I began 2006, and took a first place at the Scottsdale shows in March. Unfortunately that’s when I stopped listening to everybody. The next five months was spent with me making Buddy stay in a perfect stack while the judge watched other juniors perform their individuals which ended up with the two of us on the ground fighting each other for control. Dad and I spent countless hours on the front lawn with each session ending in frustration from my saying that "I was" handling exactly as Dad had suggested, even though the video tape showed otherwise.
At the Texas shows, a well-respected professional handler told me to relax, be smooth with my hands, never force Buddy, and do patterns like I was dancing with my dog. Actually have video saying to the pro, “that’s what my Dad told me all this time!” The next time in the ring after getting the pro’s lecture, Buddy and I placed first. My junior friend Lauren, was so excited for us to have won, that she jumped out of line to congratulate us. The judge said, “umm Miss you didn't win today”, and she happily replied back, "I know, isn’t it great, Jocelyn and Buddy won!” It was then that I truly understood Junior Showmanship. It wasn't about winning or losing at all. Junior Showmanship is about supporting each other through all the experiences we share. I invited my friend into our picture, and from then on have been inviting the juniors, breed folk, and dog show fans that made each show so memorable. By the end of Prescott, Buddy and I had qualified for the AKC Eukanuba National Championships and even got our very first Best Junior Handler award with seven juniors and all their dogs were in our win picture.
In December,Buddy and I go to Long Beach and even if we do not make a single cut in showmanship competition, the support of so many and the experiences we shared of this past year have been valuable lessons learned to carry forward.