Over two years have passed since I have competed in an AKC junior showmanship class, though it feels like just yesterday. Juniors helped to involve me in dog shows and gave me the encouragement and skills to continue handling my dogs in conformation classes and well as obedience and rally classes.
Looking back to my start in juniors I cannot help but laugh. Both my dog and I looked rather gangly and the awkwardness carried over into the show ring. Being the first and only member of my family involved in dog shows, I relied on outside help from anyone who would give it and I was lucky enough to find many mentors to give me direction and to train me in proper handling techniques. My hard work began to pay off and I eventually made it into the Collie Club of America's Top Twenty Junior Handlers, an achievement that made me very proud.
Around the same time I began working with the boy that I finished my juniors career with, a sable collie named Rowan. Rowan truly put my skills to the test, as he was definitely more of a handful than any other dog I had worked with. My skirt became a favorite chew toy in the ring and love of motorized vehicles made every outdoor show an adventure. To say the least, we had a slight dry spell as far as success was concerned. The dedication to training him and breaking his little habits did pay off in the end, however. One of the most rewarding experiences I had in juniors came when a judge came to me and complimented me on how well Rowan and I worked as a team. Through all of the problems we had encountered in the beginning, Rowan and I had formed an indescribable bond and there has been no other dog that I have enjoyed showing quite as much as my own boy. With Rowan as my juniors dog, I achieved some of my greatest goals in showing, including making it to Eukanuba. This past year he also became my first champion, with me having put every point on him myself.
In the future I plan to continue to show my dogs and to build up my kennel in the collie world. As a student at UW Madison, I also intend on continuing on my path of becoming a veterinarian and to hopefully be able to work directly with breeders in their breeding programs. Purebred dogs will always be a large part of my life and I hope to be able to continue to be a part of the dog show world for a long time to come.