Juniors at the 2019 Spinone National
Leslie Miller, Junior Showman Committee Chair
Wow, what a great National week! We had a fabulous group of seven junior handlers who participated in a wide range of events, including the hunt test, rally obedience, Canine Good Citizen testing, conformation, and, of course, junior showmanship.
To provide a little extra incentive to get involved with the festivities at the Nationals, we created a new Bingo-style game for the juniors. The kids would get their Bingo squares marked off for completing such tasks as meeting new people, attending seminars, volunteering, participating in events, and even cleaning up after their dogs. For each Bingo, the kids would get a small prize and be entered in a drawing for a handling book by Pat Hastings & Erin Ann Rouse called Let’s Make You a Winner. I think it is safe to say that the Bingo game was a hit! Throughout the week, we saw the kids with their Bingo cards, getting items checked off and having great experiences along the way. It was a joy to see all of these young people spending time with their dogs and learning more about our fabulous breed. Special thanks to the adults who welcomed these kids and provided them with opportunities to help out—thank you for your volunteerism and letting these young people learn from you!
Rather than hosting a juniors-only handling seminar, we encouraged the juniors to attend the handling seminar held by Wendy Rollins-Evans. What a great workshop! I would highly recommend Wendy’s seminar to handlers of all abilities—she did a fabulous job of offering constructive insights and helped all the participants brush up on their skills before the big show. Thank you, Wendy!
We were able to have a small get-together with the juniors after the handling seminar, complete with snacks and tales of unique dog show experiences. Recent juniors “graduate” Mattie Cobban was able to join us, and she shared some helpful information about the AKC Junior Recognition Program and some of the scholarships that are available for juniors. Thanks for paying it forward, Mattie!
The juniors did a lovely job showing their dogs in both Junior Showmanship and conformation. They brought out the best in their charges and showed their dogs with grace--something that’s not always easy when spinone antics are involved! For the National Specialty, Hannah Hicks was awarded Best Junior Handler, and Theron Hull-Walton was awarded Reserve Best Junior Handler. For the Parent Specialty, Kami West was awarded Best Junior Handler, and Hannah Hicks was awarded Reserve Best Junior. Congratulations to all of the winners and competitors—you give us great reason to be optimistic about the future of our breed and our sport! And, thank you to our fabulous donors who sponsored the Junior Showmanship prizes and made it possible for all of the competitors to receive goodie bags. Your support is greatly appreciated!
At the end of the Nationals week, two annual awards were presented for Junior Showmanship. The impressive Junior Handler trophy was awarded to the Best Junior Handler winner for the National Specialty, which was Hannah Hicks.
Thanks to the wonderful support of the Board and the Awards Committee, we had the opportunity to introduce a new award this year as well--the SCOA Junior Handler of the Year award. This award is presented to the highest ranking SCOA member junior, based on the American Kennel Club’s Junior Recognition Program ranking system for all competition types. The “all competition types” part means that juniors can earn points towards this award for qualifying scores/runs in performance and companion events like hunt tests, rally obedience, agility, etc., in addition to competing in junior showmanship. (Please note that some additional paperwork is required to get the performance/companion events points counted, but an event secretary can help with that.) Our hope is that this will encourage juniors to take advantage of the wonderful versatility of our breed and explore additional opportunities to work with their dogs. The winner of the 2018 SCOA Junior Handler of the Year Award was also Hannah Hicks. Congratulations, Hannah, on your achievements at Nationals and throughout the past year!
It was truly inspiring to see the all of the juniors being involved on such a significant level during Nationals and to see how supportive our club was of these young people. Parents, extended family members, co-owners, breeders, mentors, trophy donors, fellow competitors, show committee members, and volunteers all made great investments in the future fanciers and preservers of our breed—let’s keep up the good work of supporting these kids’ hard work all throughout the year! Leslie Miller, Junior Showmanship Committee Chair