Our Junior Handling National Champion is heading to England for the International title
14-year-old Kayla Penney of Chilliwack, B.C. won the Canadian Junior Handling National Championship in October and is now headed to Birmingham, England to compete in the Crufts International Junior Handling Competition on Saturday March 9th, 2019. I had the chance to ask this representative of Zone 12 – B.C. Interior and Yukon some questions before she takes off across the pond.
When did you get your first dog?
I got my first dog 2 and half years ago from Valerie Berry in Mission, BC. He’s a Portuguese Water Dog “Tanaki's Happily Ever After”, call name Kash.
How did you get involved in Junior Handling?
My grandparents, Dave and Diane Labiuk, are involved in the dog show world and brought me to one. After seeing what it was all about, I wanted to try it. I started showing their male Golden Retriever “Fyreglo's King of Hearts”. It didn't take long for me to start love showing dogs and I quickly became very passionate about the sport!
Who have your mentors been?
I have had many mentors over the years, from professional handlers, owner handlers and other Juniors. I have had the opportunity to work closely with Bev Dorma, Guillermo Fano, Jen Knudsen, Amanda Williams, Edgar Rojas, Heidi Gervais, Cynthia Seeling and Margaret Lehmann.
Tell me about your experience winning the Junior Nationals and becoming the Canadian Kennel Club’s Junior National Champion for Conformation.
My experience winning the Junior Nationals and becoming CKC's Junior National Champion for Conformation feels awesome; a dream come true! My parents and oldest sister, along with some family members from Alberta were there cheering. They were so proud of me as were all my supporters. I am glad they were a part of this experience.
How does it feel to be representing Canada at Crufts?
The feeling of representing Canada at Crufts is overwhelming. I am nervous and excited at the same time. I am looking forward to the competition and meeting all the top Juniors in the world. I would love to be the next Canadian Junior to win Crufts.
How are you raising funds for your trip to Crufts?
Lots of fundraising is needed to raise funds for my trip. There are many clubs and supporters making donations to help with all the expenses. Also, my mom is helping me raise money by doing crafts and selling them, like welcome signs, wreaths and fake plant terrariums. We have been doing raffles at every local dog show and collecting bottles as well.
How are you preparing for Crufts?
I am preparing for Crufts by watching previous juniors at Crufts compete on YouTube and watching the different breed videos that I am interested in showing. I have chosen the Portuguese Water Dog and the Golden Retriever as my pick breeds to show. I also read an article about Caroline Holicka and her experience after winning the CKC Nationals and representing Canada last year at Crufts. I had the opportunity to speak with one of the previous winners at Crufts, and got some tips that will help me in this experience.
What’s the best advice you’ve received when it comes to showing dogs?
Some of the best advice I have received when it comes to showing dogs is to focus on my own dog and show its conformation to the best of the breed, but most of all to have fun.
There will be several Canadian Kennel Club members at Crufts this year, cheering on Kayla! We wish her the very best of luck and know that she will make us proud!