A true gentleman

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Destiny and the Junior Dog Judging Contest

To my great delight, Destiny, my 12 year old granddaughter, was a last minute addition to my Louisville show trip. It was too late to enter her in any Junior Showmanship classes but she was able to participate in a junior handling clinic and a Junior Dog Judging Contest.

The announcement came over the loud speaker: Last call for all kids interested in signing up for the Junior Dog Judging Contest. Most of the Juniors pre-entered the contest when they sent in their Junior Showmanship entries and received their packets by mail. When Destiny signed up, she received a packet which contained four breed standards: the Boxer, the Border Collie, the Boston Terrier and the American Staffordshire Terrier. Destiny had never read a breed standard before (not even the Curly). She had exactly 30 minutes to prepare and learn all she could about the four, selected breeds.

It was an interesting competition. An AKC Judge did a show exam of the four or five dogs in each breed presented. His exam included a physical exam and bite, down and back, then around. The Judge ranked the dogs 1st through 4th but did not announce his placements. The Juniors were to try to place the dogs the way the Judge had.

The Juniors were allowed to spread out on two sides of the ring to watch the Judge’s examinations. When the Judge completed his placements, they were invited into the ring for a closer look at each dog while the entry was stacked in the center of the ring. They did not perform a physical examination or further movement exercises. The Juniors wrote their placements on a card and handed it to the Steward as they left the ring. This was repeated for three breeds, the Bostons showed up but didn’t wait around to be examined - they’d already had a long day.

After all breeds had been examined, the Judge conducted a personal interview with each Junior. The Juniors had to explain to the Judge why they put each dog in its particular placement order and what they liked/disliked about each one. During the interview phase, only one breed was discussed, the American Staffordshire Terrier. Some of the Juniors appeared nervous during the interview phase of the competition but Destiny was quite at ease and very animated in explaining what she liked about each dog and why she placed it in the order that she did.

Upon completion of the interviews, the scores were tallied and the Juniors were awarded placements from fourth through first. Out of the 20 or so Juniors who participated, Destiny was awarded second place. She had tied for first in her rankings of the dogs with the personal interview being used as the tie-breaker. Not bad at all for a kid who started "show doggin" 10 months ago.

I do believe she has "the eye" for it.

Originally Published in the June, 2008 Issue of The Curly Commentator, the official publication of the Curly-Coated Retriever Club of America (CCRCA)

Q & A for the day:

How does a youngster learn more about Junior Showmanship?

The American Kennel Club has a Juniors' section on their website at There are links to the rules and lots of other resources for kids. Juniors are separated by their experience level and their age so that they compete against similarly situated kids.

You can even compete with your spayed or neutered purebred dog, and/or your previously unregistered purebred (with just a few steps to get it a PAL number - info also on the AKC website).

Junior Showmanship is a growing sport and it is fun for the kids that compete. New kids have started at almost every show we've been to. And, a kid that tries hard can compete with the seasoned competitors in no time.