|Still in the Game!
By Brook Counts
In one week I will turn thirty years old. The daughter of a colleague, who is turning sixteen, told me, “Thirty?! You don’t look that old”. But, when I am at the shows I still think of myself as sixteen and I am sure those who watched me grow up and age out of juniors still think so too.
I still show Vizslas with people I competed against in Juniors. We still help cover each other’s dogs when we get stuck in different rings and we still have that bond that develops after spending eight years of weekends together.
Even though I am thirty, showing in Juniors still affects my life. The American Kennel Club was generous enough to give me scholarships while I obtained my B.A. from Centre College in Government and while I obtained my J.D. from the University of Kentucky College of Law. The AKC helped me obtain my career, and more, the dog world has supported me by first being friends and then clients.
I am still active within the AKC by attending shows and hunt tests with my Vizslas. I am also still breeding, but not as frequently now that I have a two legged kid along with my four legged kids. But, as I look at my daughter Lauren hugging her doggies, I see the future of the AKC.
I was asked to give advice to today’s Juniors – I have three pieces of advice. First, is to take advantage of the AKC Scholarship. Obtain your degree, even if showing professionally. Marketing, economics, veterinary medicine, business management all will be useful to a professional handler. Just like any sport, you can be injured and unable to show for a time. Having a degree will give you options. Second, try different things within the AKC. Try putting a JH on a sporting dog, try obedience, agility, lure coursing – I guarantee you’ll have a blast. Third, and most important, have fun and enjoy every weekend.