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Where Are They Now

Since 1934, The Westminster Kennel Club has bestowed the title of Best Junior Handler to one deserving recipient. These talented handlers, who are between the ages of 9-18, come from all across the country to be judged on their dog handling skills, with eight advancing to the finals competition. These dedicated dog lovers spend countless hours training, grooming, and perfecting their ring techniques throughout the year to qualify for a chance to show at Westminster. Each year, approximately 100 qualified Juniors make their way to New York City for the most prestigious junior handling competition in the sport. The Westminster Kennel Club congratulates these Juniors for their continued involvement and future success in the sport of showing dogs and beyond.



How did you become involved in showing dogs? My family purchased a Great Dane puppy when I was 14, and I probably weighed only about 120 pounds. Very quickly my future teammate was bigger and heavier them me. I was fortunate to have some very kind Great Dane handlers in California, who were willing to help me with this undertaking. (Many of whom I am still friends with today.) They spent time teaching me about different aspects of showing and moving a large dog.


How long had you and your dog been showing together before Westminster? We showed together for two years. I was 16 years old when I went to my first Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in 1984 when I won Best Junior Handler. We purchased my Great Dane from his breeder that we meet a few years earlier.

Great dane awarded "best of show" at a dog show event, with two handlers displaying the winning rosettes.

Describe what you remember from showing in the Junior Showmanship Finals at WKC. After a very successful year in 1983, being ranked #1, all-breed, for junior handlers by Canine Chronicle magazine, I was introduced to Marsha Hall Brown. She worked with me from January to the beginning of February. I still feel to this day that she, and my fabulous teammate, Ch. Terrydanes Hans, is the reason I won. I remember telling myself as I walked into the ring, don’t change anything, show as you have been trained. It’s a team sport and our dogs are so very important.


What were you most nervous or excited about showing at The Garden? I was very excited to show at ‘The Garden.’ I am a big sports fan which made me think about all the sporting events I watched on TV from there. The challenge of getting a Great Dane to New York from California was difficult. Being new to dog shows we did not know the ins and outs of going to WKC. (Where to stay, how to travel with a dog, etc.) We had to hide the dog, flag down a cab, then just jump in, hoping he would not kick us out. I remember the juniors meeting that went on in the small room before judging was a lot of fun. I had the opportunity to meet people that I had only read about before.


How has winning Best Junior Handler affected your career and your love of showing dogs? After walking into that finals ring, in hindsight, it made it a lot easier to walk into any ring at anytime. I love showing dogs, win or lose.


What did you do after winning at Westminster and how did you celebrate? I made many phone calls back to California, to family and friends, on a pay phone! I believe we also celebrated by having a couple of slices of New York pizza. I still enjoy this tradition when I’m in New York City.


What did you do after you were too old to show in Juniors? After juniors, I went to work for Bruce and Gretchen Schultz in California. I learned a great deal from them. We are still friends today.


What is the best advice you could give to Juniors showing at WKC? I always tell juniors to enjoy your time with your friends, but, once you step into the ring, it’s just you and your teammate. I have had the opportunity to train and work with at least four juniors that have won Best Junior Handler at WKC and many more that have placed.


How have you made an impact on future generations of the sport? I have been able to be a part of many juniors seminars and judging seminars. I am also a licensed juniors judge. I am always willing to help or train juniors. I want juniors to know that even if you win a lot, you can get even better. As in life, we never stop learning.

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