Response to Juniors Article in January issue:
Boy, did this column hit home! My daughter has a lovely, raised by her, group winning Terv bitch she finished out her juniors career with. My son's dog is a wonderful Aussie from great breeding who turned out to be less than finishable quality. Baloo is a wonderful dog, sleeps on the end of Tom's bed, plays any game he is asked to, dresses up with aplomb for various photo shoots, knows plenty of clever tricks, loves to watch videos with Tom, etc. They compete in obedience, agility, rally, herding and hope to add tracking. Performance judges have always been encouraging and positive.
But in junior showmanship Tom was told time and again, until he finally quit, that if he wanted to do well he would need a new dog. So what is the kid to do? Dump his best buddy? I have offered Tom my Ch. Terv bitch and rarely will he use her, but basically his response was to drop doing junior showmanship.
Same thing happened with two of my 4-H kids - one girl had a lovely Standard Poodle she adopted (4th home for this dog & I can't imagine why) but she kept her in a kennel clip & another girl had a white German Shepherd Dog she adopted as a crazy adolescent & turned him into a super dog. Both girls were told they were nice handlers but needed a "different" dog.
In breed when at least theoretically we are looking for future breeding stock, I can understand telling someone a dog really isn't quite up to snuff. But in junior showmanship, with dogs who are obviously spayed/neutered, telling a kid that they need a new/different dog could be, and is a heartbreaker.
Deb Eldredge, DVM
Comment on Juniors and Judging Article in January issue: “Air miles. What a wonderful idea. I am new to judging and don't have any yet, but someday I will. And juniors are my favorite assignment. Thank you so much for sharing a wonderful idea to help encourage our youngest sportsmen and sportswomen!” - Susan Plouff
Comment on January issue: “I don't comment often but I was impressed with your article on Juniors and Judging. Would that some of your excellent insights could be extended for ALL judging. The wonderful heartwarming story at the end of your email is a good and perfect example of this. Not everyone, child or adult, is professional, rich, talented, athletic, built like a model or even physically able to emulate some of the top handlers. But I honestly believe what they almost ALL have in common is an adoration of dogs and their own dog in particular. It seems to me that a smile and word of encouragement is so much easier for a judge than a scowl and negativity. A judge is already expressing their opinion in the order they give ribbons and I know, for myself, it's a lot easier to lose under a judge who is pleasant than one who is brusque, indifferent or flat out crabby. The future of this sport lies in encouragement, not scorn.
I believe that a large number of excellent breeders start in the show ring with a dog that is frequently not the very top representative of that breed and whether they are 10, 20, 30 years or upwards, a ribbon, a smile, a positive word can be the difference between tomorrow's top breeder and someone who never returns. I think it should always be remembered that while breeders are in a great part responsible for preserving a breed, we are all, exhibitors and judges alike, responsible for preserving this sport.”
Francee @ Minda Akitas
"Akitas bred to be best friends"