Linda D. Witouski,
AKC Judge and Legislative Liaison
AKC rules state when Juniors are judged by an official AKC Judge, it is the quality of their presentation that is judged, not the dog.
The Junior Handling rules also state that a judge should know the standards of those breeds in the ring and proper presentation of same, i.e. examined on floor, table, or ramp. But then, AKC tossed in that qualifier that the mixed breeds must be registered (read that as income!) as the breed it closest resembles.
Junior Showmanship judges are not looking at the dog’s faults or virtues, they are supposed to judge the interaction between kid and dog. Personally, I have issues with those that enter the ring with a seasoned champion that more or less, the dog shows the kid!
I'd rather see a kid with a dog that is a little spunky and note how that kid deals with it to gain control of the dog. I give them every opportunity. Junior Showmanship is about how the youngster performs and how well he or she presents the dog.
I believe it was in Maine - this little girl came in the ring with a dog she obviously had not had much opportunity to work with. The dog was determined to give her a hard time. She quickly had that dog doing exactly what he was supposed to be doing. She was outstanding. I gave her Best...she cried for an hour she was so happy.
Aside from the kids, I've always believed that judges either have an eye or they don't. That is, of course, depending on which direction they're looking...
We have to keep in mind that kids who have not been fortunate enough to have been brought up around the breeding/showing arena love their dogs, too. Just like we do.
I've been fortunate to judge 4H clubs that have dog classes and have seen first-hand the love these Junior handlers show for their dogs - mixed breed or purebred. Imagine their excitement to be able to show off at AKC events. Who are we to quell that excitement in future generations, especially knowing that these kids with their mixed breeds are our future. These Juniors may find a breed that they want to work with forever.
It is they who will become professional handlers, groomers, breeders or dog show judges.
There aren't enough kids today that have interest in animals and those that do - we need to stoke that fire, not extinguish it.
So, to answer the question, I have no problem with judging mixed breeds in Junior Handling. There are no Championship points and it is all about ability, showmanship, politeness, and comradery - the thrill of victory and agony of defeat - something desperately needed in these times for the kids. Something that makes us become teachers...in more ways than one.
I would hope that more of our seasoned breeders and handlers will take an interest in these kids and groom them towards a rewarding future for themselves and for our dogs.
Mixed breed or purebred dog owner, it is the young dog lovers of today who insure the future our sport. What happens in the future of our sport/hobby is entirely dependent on what we do today.
Editor’s note: Ms. Witouski is known for her legislative leadership in fighting bad laws, here is something you may not know
happened, (Posted by PFDC (Pennsylvania Federation Of Dog Clubs): The HSLF Presidential Endorsement - The Political Action Committee (PAC) of the Humane Society of the US (HSUS) is called the Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF). Here is a post from their website dated Tues, Oct. 6, 2020 - Today, the
HSLF endorses Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris in their bid to lead the nation. Biden and Harris have established themselves as good faith actors in sponsoring and supporting animal protection legislation and policies through the years, and it’s easy to endorse them straight up on the basis of their records.
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