HOW TO ENCOURGE OUR FUTURE – THE JUNIORS
By E. M. GILBERT JR.
Recently a proud young man, about 9 years old, entered the Juniors competition at his breeds National. The breed is not mentioned in order to protect the innocent and the guilty. The young man brought his oversized dog to the competition. This is acceptable in Juniors competition.
He collected his arm band and both nervously and proudly with HIS dog entered the ring – a class of one. When the judge had the Junior place his dog on the table – he did so with pride. Then someone from ringside stated out loud for all to hear – “Either get a smaller dog or a bigger handler.” The ringside broke out in loud laughter. When the young man left the ring with his dog it was in disgrace and humiliation, instead of pride in both his dog and himself. At least his dog still loved him. Another causualty to the sport.
Why wasn’t action taken against the offending party under AKC’s Code of Sportsmanship? The Code states: “Sportsman welcome, encourage and support newcomers to the sport.”
It would be good if all members of the fancy understood the reason for Junior Showmanship as outlined in the AKC rules:
Junior Showmanship Judging Guidelines
Section 1. Definition and Purpose. Junior Showmanship classes are non-regular classes which are judged solely on the ability and skill of Juniors in handling their dogs as in the breed ring. The purpose of Junior Showmanship Competition is twofold: to introduce and encourage Juniors to participate in the sport of dogs; and to provide Juniors with a meaningful competition in which they can learn, practice, and improve in all areas of handling skill and sportsmanship. It is important that judges of Junior Showmanship Competition understand the definition and purpose of these classes and take seriously their role in guiding the future guardians of the sport. JUDGES ARE EXPECTED TO HAVE A GENUINE INTEREST IN JUNIORS AND IN JUNIOR SHOWMANSHIP COMPETITION.
In the case of this particular National and the ringside – as Pogo stated: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
HOW TO REALLY ENCOURGE OUR FUTURE – THE JUNIORS
By E. M. GILBERT JR.
In the last issue we covered a sad incident at a National when a Junior was being judged in Junior Showmanship. Unfortunately someone passed a wise crack about both the Junior and his exhibit. The exhibit was the young man’s pride and joy. The ringside unfortunately broke out in laughter embarrassing the young man. At this point, the judge had a responsibility to strongly correct the situation.
Those of you that are old enough to remember Mary Nelson Stephenson, she would have embarrassed the perpetrator on the spot and encouraged the Junior. Heaven help the perpetrator if they later entered Mary’s ring with an exhibit.
Had I been the judge, the action I would have taken would be to stop judging, go to the center of the ring and request that the person who passed the remark come into the ring and apologize to the young man and his exhibit. I also would tell the ringside that the young man is going to make a victory lap, and I expect applause.
If no one stepped forth I would request the Show Chair to have the Bench Show Committee conduct an investigation and file a report with the American Kennel Club.
The action of the perpetrator and the ringside fails to meet the requirements of the AKC Code of Sportsmanship.
At a time when the fancy is not growing we need all the new blood we can get. We need to be mentoring and encouraging new comers. That is the function of the individual and the breed clubs. Whether we need new blood or not, we always need common decency.
The next time you see Juniors being judged go ringside and clap for them. If you think you can help, introduce yourself and offer assistance – you might just save someone for the sport, but more than that you may win a friend.
There was a book report in the last issue on: “Showing Kunga. From Pet Owner to Dog Show Junkie,” by Alxe Noden, Dogwise Publishing. This book covers how mentors converted a pet owner to a dog show junkie. If you do not know how to be mentor read “Showing Kunga.”