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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? I became involved in showing dogs through my mother. At the time, we raised and showed Rottweilers. I would go with her to the shows, bored out of mind, begging to leave as soon as she was done. Back then there were always close to 100 Rottweilers at the local FL shows so it was always an all-day event. It wasn’t until I was 10, filming the local show for a school project, that it clicked and I wanted to show dogs too. My poor mother hoped that I wanted to be a videographer, but alas, no.

Describe what you remember from showing in the Junior Showmanship Finals at WKC. The night of the finals at the Garden is one I will never forget. There is nothing like being on The Garden floor under the lights with the electricity of all that comes with that famed arena and Westminster itself.

What were you most nervous or excited about showing at The Garden? Surprisingly, I was not nervous but excited. It was the second year I showed in juniors at the Garden but failed to make the finals the year before.


How long had you and your dog been showing together before the Garden? My dog, Maverick, and I had shown in juniors all of 2015. We bought him from Vicki Chriscoe, Koslich-Von Ursa Rottweilers, as a stud dog for our breeding program. I showed him in the breed myself because he would not show for my mom. I finished him when I was 16 with specialty 5pt majors under breeder-judges. Something that just didn’t happen back then. My mom didn’t want to special Maverick so I made him my juniors dog. He was a natural show dog and loved being in the ring.


How has winning BJH affected your career? How has it affected your love of showing dogs? I don’t feel winning or not winning juniors at Westminster affects someone’s career if they choose to become a professional handler. Hard work, natural talent and good ethics come from the individual and not from a result that happened in the ring on one particular night. I will say Junior Showmanship as a whole is an invaluable experience. It gives young kids the chance to learn and experience the highs and lows of competing at dog shows.


What did you do after aging out of Juniors? After aging out of Juniors I applied for my judge’s license. I felt it was only right to give back what I received from Juniors, 2018 will mark my 20th year judging juniors.


How has the WKC BJH scholarship aided your passion for dogs? What did you go on to study in college? The WKC BJH scholarship wasn’t around when I was in juniors. I think any program that offers scholarship money to help kids go to college is a great idea. It doesn’t matter if you have decided you are going to be a handler, go to college! After I graduated high school, I applied to the AKC for grant money for college. Every year I applied I received money to help defer costs. I will always be grateful that the AKC offered Juniors a chance to earn grant money for college. I graduated University of North Florida with a business degree.


What is the best advice you could give to Juniors showing at WKC? Some advice I would give to Juniors competing at Westminster would be to relax, enjoy the experience and remember to show the way that got you there. New York City can be an overwhelming place, especially if it is someone’s first time there.


How have you made an impact on future generations of the sport? I always look to give back to the younger generation. Judging juniors is only a small portion. Locally, I have helped alongside other friends/handlers, with clothing drives and handling clinics. We should always focus on encouraging the next generation of pure-bred dog lovers.

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