Name: Sophia Rogers
Westminster Kennel Club Best Junior Handler Year: 2016
Breed shown: American Foxhound
How did you become involved in showing dogs?
My family always had pet dogs, but we did not become involved in exhibiting until we brought home a four month old fawn Great Dane puppy named Joy in 2010 when I was twelve. I set a goal to earn Joy's championship and then started in junior showmanship and joined a 4-H dog club. Joy later became Gch. Ch. OHBIS. Lothlorien’s Ode to Joy RN CGC CGCA AOM AOE. I fell in love with this sport and I hope to always be a part of it. My mom likes to joke that I didn’t come from a dog show family, but I created one, as now my younger sisters and nieces do dog shows. It is truly a family sport.
Describe what you remember from showing in the Junior Showmanship Finals at WKC?
What I remember most about showing in the Junior Showmanship Finals at WKC was that I knew this would be my last time showing in juniors, as I had aged out. I wanted to go in the ring and leave it all there. I wanted to just enjoy my last time in the juniors ring with Bobby. I knew whatever happened I was so happy to just be there with my dog , so when I was chosen as one of the lucky 8 to go the finals I was over the moon. Walking into the stadium at Madison Square Garden for the first time was so electrifying. You can feel the excitement from the crowd, the other exhibitors to the dogs. Excitement is in the air. I remember thinking how blessed I was to be there as there are so many incredibly talented juniors.
What were you most nervous or excited about showing at The Garden?
I was excited about showing at the Garden. Every junior dreams of competing in the finals at Westminster. Of course, waiting in benching with Bobby I was nervous, but once we stepped out onto that green carpet under all the lights I was just focused on Bobby and enjoying our last time in the ring.
How long had you and your dog been showing together before Westminster?
Bobby is an American Foxhound. He is the sweetest dog in the world, but also the most stubborn and obstinate. I had been showing Bobby for about a year before going to the Garden with him. Bobby is always ready for any adventure, from following me when I go ride my horse, to saving the world from evil barn cats. His favorite treats are Philadelphia Pretzels and pizza crusts. I got Bobby from the amazing Lisa and Harry Miller of Kiarry Kennel. Bobby was my family’s first American Foxhound. I have fallen in love with this breed. I am very excited to be planning my first foxhound breeding and to always be a part of the American Foxhound breed.
How has winning BJH affected your career and your love of showing dogs?
I don’t know if winning BJH has affected my career really. I guess more people know who I am now. However, I am just so grateful and honored to have been chosen BJH at Westminster. There are so many deserving juniors who never got that opportunity. All seven other finalist were so talented, it could have gone to any of them. I am so blessed. I don’t think winning BJH affected my love for showing dogs. Nothing compares to the unconditional love we get from our dogs. I love the dogs first and foremost and getting to show them is just icing on the cake.
What did you do after winning at Westminster and how did you celebrate?
After winning BJH I remember getting interviewed after getting my picture, then walking back to the benching where my friend Angele asked what I said during it and I couldn’t remember a word I said. I was in such a wonderful daze. I got flooded with so much love and support from my dog show family that made the win that much more special.
I rode home that night on cloud nine. When I woke up the next morning I got a text from Lisa Miller saying “It wasn’t a dream, you really did win Westminster!” It still feels like a dream… A dream come true. I went to school the next day, but I won’t promise I remember what was taught that day. It was all such an amazing experience and a memory that I will always treasure.
What did you do after aging out of Juniors?
After aging out of juniors I wanted to continue working for professional handlers so that I can learn all I can. I also enjoy showing my own dogs as well as friends dogs. I am very excited to become more active on the breeding side and I have a Great Dane litter due in January. I really have a heart for children and love helping other juniors and Pee Wees.
How has the WKC BJH scholarship aided your passion for dogs? What did you go on to study in college?
I am so grateful that the WKC offers a scholarship for the juniors, and I was excited to hear that they raised it to 10,000 this year. I am currently in college right now studying to be a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. Sadly, showing has taken a backseat right now as I focus on school. However, I know that dogs and dog shows will always be in my life.
What is the best advice you could give to Juniors showing at WKC?
The advice that I would give to a junior showing at WKC is to have fun and just enjoy it. You earned your spot to be on that green carpet from all your hard work and dedication, so now go out there and enjoy it.
How have you made an impact on future generations of the sport?
I feel that the future of our sport is very important. The future generation is what will keep this sport alive. I think more people need to realize that and help and support the juniors all they can. I currently have my permit to judge All-Breed Junior Showmanship. I have helped in many PeeWee shows. I love seeing the happy faces when they get to go in the ring. I am always happy to help any junior that needs it. I am very excited to be judging my first juniors assignment next year. And down the road, I would love to judge juniors at Westminster.