|Where it All Started:
Junior Handling and the Westbury Kennel Association
By Iris Frankel
The sport of dog showing originated on the East Coast, specifically on Long Island, Westchester, New York and Southern Connecticut. Thus, it was only natural that Children’s Handling Class would also share its origins here.
The first recorded Children’s Handling Class was held at the Westbury Kennel Association show on Long Island, New York in 1932. This competition was created by the efforts of Mr. Leonard Brumby, Sr., a professional handler of the time, as well as an officer and member of the Westbury Kennel Association. In the late 1920’s, dog showing was considered to be a “wealthy man’s sport.” Children who accompanied their parents to shows were bored and restless. Leonard Brumby’s idea, when put into action, provided these children with a purpose for attending the shows. These children soon exhibited handling skills, grooming techniques, along with socialization and experience from participating in the dog world. Not only did the bond between child and dog strengthen, life-long friendships were forged. Many of these children eventually took over their parents’ kennels, while others became breeders, exhibitors and judges.
Westbury Kennel Association shows’ premium list offered this new event providing the following class divisions:
Class A: Boys under 14 years of age
The next year, at Westbury Kennel Association’s 1933 show, the club combined boys and girls in one class and for the first time, there was an age division:
Boys and Girls under 15 years of age
The only requirement mentioned was “no unruly dogs”. Each entrant was awarded candy. This award marked the beginning of one of the many Junior Showmanship traditions that were to follow, offering prizes for all entrants to entice children to compete.
This year in celebration of Westbury Kennel Association’s 75th Anniversary with the Junior Showmanship Competition, each competitor received a 75th Commemorative Rosette. Rosettes were awarded for class placements. A trophy was awarded to the best Junior Handler by Westbury Kennel Association. To bring back the custom of awarding sweets, all enjoyed a cake congratulating all competitors. Twenty-five Junior Handlers participated in this year’s historic competition.
1Text excerpt from The American Kennel Club’s A Source Book 1884-1984; Excerpt taken from the 1932 Westbury Kennel Association Catalogue.