Braden (my baby brother) started going to shows with me 5 years ago when I got my first show dog, my beloved Italian Greyhound, Aramis. Braden and I participated in our first show together (an AKC show) - me showing Aramis in breed, and Braden showing Aramis in Junior Handling. At the age of ten, never having handled a dog before or taken any lessons (indeed, we were both complete beginners), Braden took fourth place in a decent-sized novice junior class in that very first show, and I was so proud I was bursting at the seams.
Since that day that sealed both our fates (we were both bitten by the bug at that first show, and have never looked back!), Braden has gone on to win many first in class placements, and five Best Junior In Show. He had to move up to the open junior class after just a few shows because of his number of first place wins in just that short time. Braden has still never taken any handling classes - his knowledge has come from experience, with some pointers from myself, judges, or other exhibitors thrown in.
After I lost Aramis and Chevy (my male Weimaraner), we were without a dog to show for awhille, until I brought home Kaima - my first AKK. We started up again, Braden handling Kaima in Juniors, and me handling Kaima in breed. Even in the open senior class (the children must move up from junior to senior when they reach 14 years of age) - the toughest class in juniors - Braden has still taken home several first in class placements, and he won three of his BJIS out of the open senior class.
In October of 2007, I got Willow. He instantly became Braden's juniors dog. Braden also handles Willow in the breed ring, as Kaima and Willow are currently in the same class, and I certainly can't split myself in half and handle them both.
Not only has Braden handled my IG and AKK in both juniors and breed, but he has also handled the following breeds in the breed ring for other exhibitors: AKK, shih tzu, Boston terrier, black and tan coonhound, Italian greyhound, American Eskimo dog, and a Siberian husky (who he showed in the group ring, handling her to his first Group 1!).
Braden consistently places in the Top Ten Juniors Standings for his region each year. He was first in his region one year.
In addition to handling dogs with a soft hand and keen eye, Braden has a huge heart of gold. He is always willing to jump in and help out with whatever needs doing. Of course he cares for his juniors dog and helps care for my other dogs throughout the weekend at a show, but he *always* has a helping hand available for anyone. Whether it's holding dogs, moving chairs, setting up/tearing down for a show, cleaning up, dashing across the show site to run errands, helping people unload/load/carry crates, suitcases, expens, bags, etc, helping people set up their crates and expens at the show site or hotel, taking a dog into the ring when at the last minute someone discovered they were short a handler, running our breed club's raffle table at the national specialty - he will do it all, and do it all with a smile. So many other exhibitors have thanked him for his helpfulness, and many are quite disappointed if Braden is not coming to a show with me. He is a joy to have at the shows, and he and I have shared many, many wonderful hours together because we share the sport of dog showing. I hope this is something he and I can do together for many more years.
Braden has been a junior member of both AKKAOA and UAKKA since 2007. He has had articles about him and written by him published in the AKKAOA and UAKKA newsletters.
~*~Bubby, I am SO VERY PROUD of you, for not only your handling skills, but for ALL you do for me and everyone around you. Words cannot even begin to express the depth of my pride and gratitude! I love you!!!~*~
** Braden is so graciously sponsored by AKKAOA member Terry Wright. Thank you so much, Terry! Braden really appreciates your support and encouragement. =) **