Junior Showmanship and Beyond
My AKC career began as a Junior Handler, but over the years I became involved in the sport of dogs in other ways. Although I did not want my time in Junior Showmanship to end, I found that aging out was not the end of competition with my dogs.
I became interested in dog shows when I was three or four years old. It was several more years, however, before I stepped into the ring. In 1995, I discovered my love for showmanship through 4-H. An advisor encouraged me to get involved in AKC, and I started out in Junior Showmanship as a twelve year old in 1998 and aged out in 2003. During that time, I competed in many shows with my Italian Greyhound in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. Occasionally I took dogs in the breed ring. In addition, I was actively involved in the 4-H dog program for ten years. Among the many awards I received in 4-H, my most memorable was when I won the Ohio State Fair Senior B Showmanship class in 2004. It was the last time I would ever show my old Juniors dog, Lady, and it was a perfect ending to her career. I also ran my Manchester Terrier in agility through the USDAA (United States Dog Agility Association) Junior Handler Program, earning two titles.
I took about a year off from showing while waiting for my new Italian Greyhound puppy, but in October 2004 I was back in the ring. Now I handle my young Italian Greyhound, Lovesong La Scala Rufina ("Ru") in the breed ring regularly. I hope to finish her championship and possibly special her. I plan to handle my other Italian Greyhound in Rally and agility. I remain active in 4-H as an advisor, where I teach showmanship and coach the dog drill team that travels to state competition each year.
In the future, I plan to continue my involvement in the Italian Greyhound breed ring. I look forward to becoming a breeder of Italian Greyhounds and possibly Manchester Terriers. Unfortunately, I have not participated in agility for a while since my Manchester Terrier has been unable to run due to health problems, but I can't wait to get back in the sport with one of my Italian Greyhounds! I hope to open my own dog training business someday and help people learn how to train their dogs for many types of dog competitions. I am also interested in handling dogs professionally. Later on, I want to become certified as both an AKC Juniors judge and eventually as an all-breed judge.
Looking back, my experiences in Juniors became a stepping stone for my involvement in the fancy. I have explored and enjoyed several aspects of the dog world, but conformation will always be my favorite. I know that I will continue to remain involved in the future.