JUNIOR SHOWMANSHIP OPEN SENIOR DOG QUALITY
By Pat Gilbert
Someone has stated that they think that by the time a Junior gets to Open Seniors, most juniors have obtained a real show dog--maybe a finished champion that's been retired or something that has a lot of promise, so they don't have to suffer with a dog that is so clearly outclassed.
Pat responded as follows: “Pardon me, but I don't see what getting to Open Seniors has anything to do with the quality of a Junior's dog. "Suffer with a dog that is clearly outclassed?" "A real show dog?" To these kids, these dogs are their "real show dogs".
Just this past weekend, I had a girl in my ring with a 12 yr. old. Golden Retriever that had won it all in her younger day. She had two litters, was a little lumpy and clearly an older brood bitch with her sweet grey face and missing teeth. Still this girl knew to show me full dentition. This 14 yr. old girl grew up with her dog. They were a life long team and clearly committed to each other. Her dog paced intermittently and the girl knew it. It was much too hot and humid even though her handler kept her damp and hydrated. The dog looked at her handler with unconditional love and tried her best. Was her dog outclassed? Maybe to some but not to me. The girl and her dog were not "outclassed" to me. She took time and patience and a lot of love to work with her dog and not overtire her. She placed in a very strong class because of her love and handing of her "outclassed" dog. They were still winners.
It is very easy to overlook the quality of the animal for me. I could care less knowing that some of my students work all sorts of jobs to buy and afford their "outclassed" but still purebred dogs, one good outfit, and show entries. They try to travel with handlers to work the weekend expenses off. These Juniors are committed and are the future.
I don't ever look at the quality of the animal. I look at the quality of the Junior and their rapport with their best friend.