Manitoba Junior Kennel Club host’s the first CKC sanctioned Stand-Alone Junior Handling Competition
In 2018, Beth Chopey, Zone 8 Junior Handling Representative for the Manitoba Junior Kennel Club, had a meeting with her friend and the Manitoba Director for the Canadian Kennel Club, Mr. Larry Kereluke. The two were discussing ideas and plans for the Manitoba Junior Kennel Club, as well as the success they had when the Northwinds Dog Club held a dog show in conjunction with the Winnipeg Pet Show earlier in the year. At that event Junior Handling was offered both days and drew a large crowd, as well as gathered interest from new people who became members of the MJKC. Like most provinces, Manitoba has seen a decline in dog show entries which has caused some clubs to fold. Larry and Beth discussed the future of the dog show world, and ideas on how to keep the interest alive.
“My concern over the dwindling number of dog shows in our province raised a question; how do you engage new dog show members if there is little opportunity to compete? Junior Handling is a fantastic way to interact with a new generation and their love of purebred dogs, but a Junior Handling competition once every 3-4 months is not going to attract new people. Our conversation sparked an idea to host an event that would give Junior Handlers an opportunity for the spotlight to be solely on them.”
Beth found out that because the Manitoba Junior Kennel Club is a registered club with the Canadian Kennel Club, they could apply to host Junior Handling only events. Larry and Beth discussed this and got to work. Larry was very excited for the event, however he sadly passed away a few days before Beth received confirmation for their historical event.
To prepare for their stand-alone Junior Handling event in May, the MJKC first hosted a Fun Match where the Juniors were in charge of running the show. The community attended the Fun Match on a brisk -20C Sunday in January, typical weather for any Winnipegger. Family and guardians of the MJKC members helped by selling food, donating prizes for the raffle table and cheering for all competitors. With the success of their Fun Match, the members of the MJKC were ready to make history. The club’s stand-alone Junior Handling competition was open to all Junior Handlers, PeeWee’s to Senior Open, from all Zones. The event even included a Junior who came all the way from Newfoundland- talk about National support!
In order for the Juniors to compete, they needed to complete an entry form as they would for a regular competition, and include their dog’s registration number, breed, and registered name. Justin Kereluke, Larry’s son, was the official Show Secretary. Justin and Larry ran the Northwinds Dog Club. On May 5th there were 14 Junior Handlers in the competition, with a full crowd ringside.
Former Manitoba Junior Handler and multiple Zone Finals winner Laurel Fletcher was the Judge. Laurel took her time and demonstrated her knowledge of the sport by making it a tough and intense event. She had 2 hours to work the participants. Laurel used this opportunity to educate the Juniors by having her mark and return the same score sheets used in Zone Finals, and she answered any questions the Juniors had regarding their placement.
This is a real story of the Canadian dog show world coming together. “Words cannot express how grateful I am to the entire Manitoba dog show community; they supported in a variety of ways, including monetary donations to pay for the building rental and ribbon cost, donating prizes for the raffles, taking candid’s of the event, setting up the ring, as well as professional photography for the participants” says Beth.
Beth's advice to any Zone interested in applying for an independent Junior Handling competition is to speak your members. The youth are the members of the club and should be active within it. If you are ready to commit, be a leader and mentor by becoming a member of your local dog show club and encourage the Juniors. Apply for your Junior Kennel club to be recognized by the Canadian Kennel Club as you require an official club number to host Junior Handling only events.
The Manitoba Junior Kennel Club will host two more stand-alone Junior Handling competitions at the Junior Handling Weekend Extravaganza on September 21-22, 2019 in Winnipeg, Manitoba at the Viscount Gort Hotel. Allison Foley will be offering Junior Handling and All-Breed Seminars for all ages and skill levels throughout the weekend. For more information, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
All photos by Lesley R. Finlay.