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Westminster Rewind: Top Juniors at Westminster

By Amy Fernandez

Originally published: February 2015

Since 1933 Westminster’s Junior Showmanship Finals have focused the spotlight on countless exceptional individuals. Along with material rewards, that win is frequently cited as the launching point of a successful career. In reality, qualifying for Westminster’s JS finals represents a significant achievement in itself. Over the years, the eligibility requirements have gradually risen from one to ten first place wins.  Juniors typically compete throughout the entire year to qualify for that opportunity to face off against the cream of the crop.  Win or lose, making it that far is indicative of exceptional maturity, focus, and confidence. Past winners have directed those qualities in countless professional directions. But it’s no surprise that most of them have also remained involved in the sport.

For example, Dr. Charles Garvin, Westminster’s Best Junior in 1969, went on to become a successful Dalmatian breeder, owner/handling over 80 champions, and becoming a respected judge. Over the years he’s judged the DCA National five times and served multiple terms as DCA president and board member. Outside of his breed, he’s also contributed his time and energy as a delegate and officer for multiple all breed clubs. He is also a member of the AKC board and serves on multiple AKC committees, including the AKC Canine Health Foundation. Of course, all this falls under the heading of Garvin’s hobby. In real life he is ophthalmic surgeon and president of a 72-physician medical practice.

Westminster’s Best Junior in 1970, Dr. Patricia Haines, took her career in a more familiar direction. She graduated from The Ohio State University College of Agriculture in 1979 and the College of Veterinary Medicine in 1983. In 2013 she was elected President of the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association.

She’s also remained deeply involved in the sport on many levels. She has bred and handled multiple generations of top winning Goldens, Pointers and Foxhounds. In a formal capacity she has served as an officer in national and local breed clubs, and all-breed clubs, and as an AKC delegate and board member, and served on numerous AKC Board-appointed committees. In addition to that, she also breeds Shorthorn cattle at her Xenia, Ohio farm.

Needless to say, professional handling has been the career choice for many winning Juniors. The 1954 winner, George Alston, ranks among the most prominent winners. After decades of handling top winning dogs to record breaking careers, he became even more famous through his acclaimed handling seminars, which ultimately resulted in his award winning book, The Winning Edge.

This event is a training ground for overachievers. To date, girls have the lead, winning Best Junior 52 times, compared to 25 wins by boys. We will update that score Tuesday night.

photos courtesy Westminster Kennel Club

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