YAP Ambassador and Dog Handler, Amelia Smith Speaks about Jr Showmanship
How old are you?
13 years old
What grade are you going into?
Where do you go to school?
Dutchess Day School in Millbrook, N.Y.
Do you have a working dog?
What type of dog? Please tell us a little about Diesel.
Diesel is a 3 year old, red Norwich Terrier. He has been showing with me in Junior Showmanship and Confirmation for 3 years, now. We traveled all over the Northeast, showing, learning together about different judges and grooming techniques and meeting new people. We flew to Orlando, Florida two years in a row after qualifying for the Eukanuba National Championships. In 2012 we also traveling to New York City to compete at Madison Square Garden in the Westminster Kennel Club dog show. After finishing his championship at age 2, I retired him from the show ring and began agility training and therapy dog training, which he has been very enthusiastic about. I have recently been accepted as a member of the Norwich Terrier Club of America.
How did you get involved with dog handling?
When I was 10 years old, I decided that I wanted a little dog to show in breed confirmation and junior showmanship instead of our Rhodesian Ridgebacks that are currently retired from the show ring. I researched the Norwich Terrier and found a breeder in Newtown, CT. Then our journey began. Diesel and I trained together under the instruction of our friend and handler of our Ridgebacks, Joy Barbieri. Whenever Diesel was shown, I was always the handler, creating an unbreakable bond. We began showing, and after much work and coaching from my mentors, Lori Pelletier and Nicky Conroy, I was grooming on my own and helping them show some of their dogs.
What does it take to do Jr. Showmanship?
Junior Showmanship takes focus, enthusiasm, commitment, and most importantly, hard work. Your dog must be American Kennel Club registered and a purebred, although the dog may be spayed or neutered. The dog must also conform to its breed standard, which is what your breed should ideally look like. You and the dog need to learn showing techniques and how to properly present not only your dog with the correct grooming, but yourself. Going to shows and watching Junior Showmanship is a great way to get a feel for what it is all about. Go to akc.org <http://akc.org> and read about how to become a junior handler. If you can attend an AKC dog show, you can pick up a show schedule to see what time the juniors show. They will be happy to talk with you after they show and you can ask specific questions and meet their dogs. At every show there is also an AKC show superintendent who is very knowledgeable and will be eager to share information.
What can you gain from Junior Showmanship competition?
You will build an incredible bond with your dog and you become a great team. Although it takes a lot of work and dedication, junior showmanship is a great way to learn about your breed of dog, other breeds, grooming, and showing techniques. It is also a nice outlet to see new faces, meet other kids, and have fun with a new crowd. My confidence was boosted tremendously when I began showing because you are required to speak, dress, act, and show professionally in front of a judge. From this alone, I became more poised and confident.
What do you think about YAP starting at your school this fall?
I am proud to say that YAP will be coming to my school this fall to do a program with the incoming 6th grade class. I am positive that this will be a great experience for these children and that they will gain so much knowledge and awareness of working dogs. The rest of the school will benefit from this program as well because the 6th graders will prepare an assembly about their program and keep us updated on their progress. This topic is something that many if not all of the kids in our school are fairly unfamiliar with so it will be very new and interesting to them. I am very excited!
I will be in the YAP Macy’s fashion show on August 24th with my dog Diesel. Neither of us have ever been in a fashion show so this will be a new experience.