On Junior’s for the Junior’s by a Junior

By Dani Bodeving  beckie Sept 2002 The Butterflies are building up in your stomach. Your forehead has sweat beads glistening on it. After months of practice, it all comes down to this…. No, this is not the state basketball play-offs, it isn’t a soccer match against your rivals. In fact it isn’t any sport that you would consider. It’s your first junior showmanship competition. Junior showmanship is like basketball and soccer in one way… it is a team sport. Not necessarily the type of team you would normally think of, it’s a team of two. This team is you and your loyal canine companion. Just like any team you and your Juniors dog need to know each others every move, you need to be able to read each others thoughts. If one of you is having an off day then chances are the other one will feel it. If your dog is having a bad day you’ll get frustrated with your dog and if it is your bad day the dog will feel it down his lead. This is why practice makes perfect. Just like any other sport, practice is the key to success. If you really want to win you need to spend time each day not only practicing but also conditioning and establishing a rapport between you and your dog. The best Juniors are those that have a well conditioned dog that looks adoringly at them. When practicing you need to play around and try new things. The best place to do this is in front of a mirror, there you are able to see your team from the judges point of view. Remember you are trying to accentuate all the good points of your dog while trying to be as invisible from the judge as possible. You must go in to the show ring thinking this is the best dog out there. All though different judges look for different things, there are some aspects that seem to be a must under any judge. They are grooming of the dog and handler, professionalism, eye contact, listening to directions, knowledge of proper ring procedure, control of your dog, showing of the dog to correct breed protocol, and of course handling skills. Your dog should be groomed according to the breeds standard (but wipe off the drool)!. You as the handler should also be properly groomed, girls need to wear dresses and boys need to wear suits. Remember you need to present yourself and your dog in the most professional manner and don’t be caught in the Juniors ring without your slobber rag. Another important aspect to showing in the Juniors ring is eye contact. You need to look at your judge but as one of my past judges said you need to concentrate on your dog and know where your judge is not just stare at your judge. A great little trick I have found is to look up at your judge on the corners when you take your dog around. Before you go into the ring you need to have a general idea of what proper ring procedure is and how to follow it you need to know what to do when and you need to know the patterns. The best place to learn this is by watching other rings before you go in. There is also various literatures you can consult if you have any further questions. One of the most important things in Juniors is listening and following directions exactly. I remember once I had won my novice class and in the Best Junior ring, the judge asked me to move my dog ½ way down and back. When she said this my dogs leash came undone and I quickly clipped it back on, because of this I missed everything she said and moved my dog all the way down and all the way back. In instance’s like that it is okay to ask the judge to please repeat her directions. These are my Juniors tips. Please do not think they are the only thing out there because there is by far much more to learn about Juniors. I think the best way that you are going to learn about Juniors is through experience so I leave you with the most important advice I can give: Practice makes perfect and Live and Learn. Amy June 2003 best jrBeckie June 2005 Dani Adam Jan 2002