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Junior Handler question

Discussion in 'Getting Started in Conformation' started by JessicaR, Jul 22, 2014.

  1. JessicaR

    JessicaR Forums Enthusiast

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    I would like to encourage my daughter to show dogs. She is 10 years old and has been to shows with me, she even did show at an UKC show twice when she was 4 years old.

    The problem I have is since then she has developed a couple of problems, 1 is she is dyslexic, and has memory retention problems, the other is she has extreme shyness, possibly mildly autistic. (still waiting for more testing) Since her last time of showing she has become withdrawn to new situations and talking to people she doesn't know.

    Her therapist thought it would be a good idea to try and encourage her to try and do group activities, and get her around new people. Right now she is in 4H, she shows rabbits, which is a lot less interactive, the judge does ask a question or 2 but other than that all she has to do is put the rabbit on the table and the judge does the rest.

    I did talk her into taking the dog care project, which meant she had to talk to a judge and answer questions. She was so nervous that day that she had a stomach ache almost that whole morning, she just kept saying I cant remember anything, I know nothing about dogs :( Once it was over she felt so much better, she even said maybe she will show in obedience next year!

    I am thinking maybe if she does show in 4H next year I can try and encourage her to show in some UKC/AKC shows.

    So my question is do I let the ring steward/judge know about her learning disabilities or is that considered a no-no?
    I am also worried about, her showing with other kids, and her always being behind, since she does have such a hard time remembering and comprehending when she does new things. She also cannot follow a series of directions, she has to be told 1 thing at a time or she gets confused. All her 4h advisors know about her LD and work with her on it, I am afraid in something like JH they might not be so encouraging, or she will feel embarrassed.

    Any words of encouragement, do you feel this is something we should pursue or just stick with 4H?
     
  2. Lightplum

    Lightplum Forums Sage

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    AKC juniors the judges do not ask them questions like UKC or 4H, they have them usually do a simple ring pattern and just exhibit their dog to the best of their ability. I know my niece has done a few AKC Jr shows with me and they judges have been wonderful. The judges know hook the kids and they are the future of our sport, so they want to make it as good of a time as they can. They are not there to confuse or trip up the kids and with the younger kids they are more forgiving with them and making mistakes they understand this is a learning process, as long as she can do 4h she shouldnt have any issue with AKC.
     
  3. JessicaR

    JessicaR Forums Enthusiast

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    Thanks Lightplum! That's good to know! She loves to work with the dogs, she just doesn't like to talk to people. Which is why she hasn't done 4H shows before, they have an interview with the judge before hand and have to answer 6 questions. Hopefully next year will go good for her. :smile2:

    I am thinking that if she proves to me that she really wants to show and sticks with it, I will get her a puppy that will be just hers.
     
  4. Jess041

    Jess041 Forums Enthusiast

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    I am not familiar with handling or showing, but I was a very shy and anxious child (and still a mildly shy and anxious adult).

    I'm not sure if you've seen the "long" version of the Dogs 101 episode with the Shelties, but there is a little boy with autism who showed his Sheltie. I'm not sure if it was 4H, AKC, UKC, whatever. But it did amazing things for his confidence and social skills. I think for some kids, dogs just bring out the best in them, especially if they have a great relationship with the dog.

    I will say that for me, I can be pretty quiet around new or unfamiliar people. But if they start talking to me about my dog.. it's hard to shut me up. I can talk about Missy and dogs in general for hours. It makes me wonder how many people who have engaged in conversation with me at the dog park regret it :lol:.

    I wish your daughter the best of luck! I can't wait to hear how she does!
     
  5. Ann

    Ann Moderator

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    One word of advice I got for Juniors, since I'll be starting my granddaughter next year. Don't start your daughter with a puppy...let her handle a seasoned dog who's very used to showing so she can learn what she needs to do rather than coping with puppy antics in the ring. Since Juniors are judged on handling, not on the dog, they're much more successful with a dog who knows what to do.

    Emily, my granddaughter, will start out with my Checkers, who could happily show herself with no handler :lol:, and eventually graduate to Ruffles if things go well.
     
  6. Jess041

    Jess041 Forums Enthusiast

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    Yes, I thought Jr Handlers usually used a dog that had already finished? Isn't that was Tofu Pup did?
     
  7. Ann

    Ann Moderator

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    That's the ideal situation, but not always the case, if they don't have access to a finished champion. A dog who's at least experienced in the ring -- doesn't necessarily have to be finished -- is the best choice.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2014
  8. JessicaR

    JessicaR Forums Enthusiast

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    ok well then when the time comes maybe I can find her a retired dog, that is looking for a new home.
     
  9. tofu pup

    tofu pup Moderator

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    Good questions. I don't have any experience with learning disabilities, or with being a parent... but I did AKC juniors for years and years. (I also did 4H, but we didn't really have an active club, so I don't know that I can comment on the social aspect there.)

    I was a "quirky" kid. I didn't have any siblings, and I didn't have a lot of interest in socializing with my peers (I wasn't very good at it). I knew how to engage socially with grown-ups, and I felt more comfortable with them. I felt most comfortable spending time with my dog, though.

    It was easy to be a reserved, quirky kid at conformation shows. I didn't really have to socialize with anyone my age if I didn't want to, and I spent most of my time with my mother and other adults. Juniors isn't a team sport; you can just sort of do your own thing and focus on your dog and on honing your skills. When I wasn't working on my dog, I was working for handlers, ex-ing, grooming, and taking dogs into the ring.

    I guess what I'm saying is that AKC Juniors won't necessarily improve peer-to-peer social skills. It will put a high polish on a child's manners, though, and with the right supervision it will teach them at an early age how to navigate in a grown-up world.

    I like to think I turned out OK. When I was about 18, it seemed like everyone my age became more-or-less an adult, so the fact that I was utterly clueless about child/adolescent social skills became less of a liability. I have a loving husband and good friends, and a career where I spend most of my time working on behalf of people age 60+ (so I guess I still like spending time with "grown-ups"!).
     
  10. tofu pup

    tofu pup Moderator

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    Oh yeah, and I'll second (third?) the suggestion of starting with a more-experienced dog (or at least a dog who you know enjoys the dog-show game).

    Mark was far and away the best gift I've ever received. The right dog and the right junior can be a life-changing match. For me, it wasn't so much that Mark was trained (I ended up having to re-train him to my rhythm and signals) as that he loved to show and that we loved each other. When we worked together, we were partners with a common goal - and more than that, he was "my own dog", and my dearest friend.
     

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