One thing I love about the UKC is the time and attention they give to juniors who want to participate in the sport of dog showing.
This past weekend I had the opportunity to not only show but mentor two green junior handlers (and by green I mean this was going to be their very first dog show ever). The show was a UKC show held in Mason, MI at the Ingham County Fairgrounds. If you have never shown in UKC you’re missing out. These shows are relaxed, generally friendly and most people are more then eager to help. It’s not without it’s own ‘dog show politics’ but the laid back atmosphere coupled with the friendliness and ‘realness’ of those that show in UKC make it worth competing in. If your dog has an AKC registration then you can register for UKC.
Unlike the AKC which requires juniors be at least 9 years of age to start handling, UKC allows children as young as 2 years old to start getting experience in the ring. Pee Wee, Sub Junior and Pre Junior (all up to the ages of 7) allow a parent to enter the ring with the child or help from the sidelines. Once they get into Novice Junior they are judged and earn points. All of the ‘pre classes’ are run through their paces but not ‘judged’ per se. The idea is to get children experience in the ring, build confidence, build knowledge and most importantly give them a great spark for showing dogs.
My daughter Braewyn, who is 4 years old showed a dog for the first time ever this weekend. She absolutely loved it and had such a big smile the entire time I know it left a great impression with her. She was so proud of herself and the work she did. With each show she got more and more confident in the ring; so much so that by the end show she needed someone in the ring with her but not by her side.
One of the best things about UKC is that it’s not just cut throat competition with cold judges. Most judges genuinely care about the juniors who are starting out because they know that they are the future of their sport. They take the time to make it educational and do what they can to help juniors grow; they don’t just hand out ribbons and let them go without giving them tips on how to best grow and learn.
Showing in UKC doesn’t just require you know how to show the dog off, it also requires you have a wealth of information around the breed you’re showing, dog health and dog anatomy. They ask about what the dog’s purpose is, what they do and general anatomy questions such as where the dog’s stop, croup or withers are. The kids in the ring can’t just look good, they have to be smart as well.
Savanna, the daughter of a good friend of mine showed for the first time this weekend as well. She did absolutely amazing. In fact, she went from not knowing how to even handle a dog to not only showing in junior showmanship but going on to handle Oracle to his championship by getting him two Best of Breeds. She learned quickly, was eager and a natural.
If you want to keep the sport of dog showing going you have to have a future generation who is interested. To do this you have to make it fun. You have to build confidence. You have to let them know that their passion means something. UKC does this and they do it well. I am so proud of these two young ladies for the work they did this past weekend and I cannot wait to see them grow!