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AKC Canine Partner Juniors – A Worthy Hot Potato?

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74 – March, 2021

By Wayne Cavanaugh

We waited somewhat patiently for the announcement over the PA system. “Junior Showmanship will be held in Ring 3 at 2 PM.” You had to pay attention because the time, ring, and judge were never part of the judging program. It depended on when available handlers had time between showing their dogs to serve as judges. Back then everyone stayed all day so it worked just fine. There was no such thing as entering Junior Showmanship ahead of time; you just showed up at the ring.

Because there wasn’t an entry involved, if you were lucky enough to place, you went to the judge’s table and told the steward your name and address. Mr. Paul Nigro from Popular Dogs magazine collected the information. Junior Showmanship was his baby. If you earned five wins, you would receive the coveted invitation to show in Juniors at Westminster.

Westminster was in the “Old Garden” then with its wonderful maze of hallways for kids to explore. Before the competition began, we all assembled in cement-block rooms off of those hallways for instructions from Mr. Nigro. It was nothing short of sensational. This is how it was when I – and many of today’s handlers, breeders, exhibitors, conformation judges and officials – were showing in Junior Showmanship.

If you go to the AKC Museum of the Dog – and you should – you’ll find a gem of a book on Juniors by Connie Vanacore in the library section. In it, you’ll read about juniors who went on to become officers at AKC including Mari-Beth O’Neill (and me). For well over a quarter-century, no one has done more to successfully develop the AKC Juniors program than Mari-Beth. She truly cares about Juniors and can relate. Back in her Juniors days – with superb black-rimmed glasses, a determined stare, and an abundance of adorable – Mari-Beth and her Toy Manchester Terrier were smart, knowledgeable, and tough competitors.

Click here to read the complete article

74 – March, 2021

Short URL: https://caninechronicle.com/?p=198011

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  • May 2021