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Modest Beginnings Lead to a Lifetime of Memories

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76 – April, 2018

By Amy Fernandez

After a few successful years in this sport, it’s easy to forget that we all started somewhere. Regardless of the lofty status any expert eventually attains, you can bet there’s a long trail littered with inept, forgettable experiences along the way. Even George Washington, arguably the first venerated icon of America’s dog world, was legendary for the epidemic of mismatings in his Virginia kennel.

It’s important to keep this in perspective, especially at this pivotal moment for our sport. Nobody starts at the top. Take Judi Johnson, for instance. She’s a familiar face, showing and winning all over the Northeast. But she was just one more clueless novice when she first set foot in the show ring. There was no disguising that fact, even in the Juniors ring.

Johnson recalls, “It was Cape Cod Kennel Club in 1950. I was seven.” The show debut of her first breeder/owner/handled Beagle made for a doubly memorable occasion. “Her name was Shelley’s Candie. She was my first show dog and I was the breeder as my dad put her mom in my name.”

Junior Showmanship has been the launch pad for countless superstar careers in this sport, which is somewhat surprising when you stop to consider its modest beginnings. It has definitely exceeded the wildest expectations of Len Brumby and George Foley when they cooked up the idea back in 1932. Brumby, then a top handler, and Foley, equally notable for superintending shows from coast to coast, were then in the process of establishing the PHA. As they saw it, it wasn’t only handlers that could benefit from a bit of organizing.

They agreed that something had to be done about the hordes of unsupervised, rampaging kids that had become a standard feature of every weekend show. Possibly, some structured activity would keep them entertained and out of trouble while mom and dad were in the ring.

Originally dubbed Children’s Handling, it was a totally informal, impromptu competition held in the first empty ring of the day, judged by the first professional handler that finished for the day. All entrants received free candy as an incentive to participate.

Click here to read the complete article
76 – April, 2018

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Posted by on Apr 9 2018. Filed under Current Articles, Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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