Junior Showmanship Finals Judge
1. Can you describe your reaction to receiving an invitation to judge the Junior Showmanship Finals at the AKC National Championship Presented by Royal Canin?
Debbie Melgreen: I was so excited to be asked to judge the Juniors Finals at the AKC National Championship. I have always been a big supporter of Juniors, and judging Juniors is one of my favorite assignments!
2. How did you prepare for this assignment? Any “day of” strategies?
Debbie Melgreen : I prepared for this assignment the same way that I prepare for any Juniors assignment—other than the need to be aware of where the cameras were located, to give them the best angles from which to film.
3. Can you talk a bit about your typical process for judging Junior Showmanship?
Debbie Melgreen: My typical process for judging Junior Showmanship… SAFETY FIRST! I also want to see a Junior with soft hands on their dog, who shows the dog in a BREED-SPECIFIC manner, who works as a team with their dog, who shows a display of courtesy and is dressed appropriately.
4. Was there a heightened energy in your ring? Did you feel the energy of the spectators?
Debbie Melgreen: Yes, there definitely is a heightened energy in the ring… you can FEEL it! As far as spectators go, I am able to focus on the task at hand IN the ring. I do know, as a spectator of the Junior Finals for many years, that the energy outside the ring is as heightened as it is inside! There is so much support of our Juniors!
5. Did the Juniors in your ring seem especially focused? Any nerves on display?
Overall, I would say that they were quite focused. Some “nerves” is natural, but nerves didn’t seem to interfere with performance as a whole.
6. How evident was breed-specific presentation among the finalists?
Breed-specific presentation was VERY evident, especially in my four finalists!
7. With so much talent in your ring, how challenging was this assignment?
Debbie Melgreen: By the time they get to the Finals, they are all so talented that it is challenging—yet it is hard to make an incorrect choice! The smallest detail can come into play!!
8. Is there anything you’d like to say to the Juniors who made it to the Finals this year?
Debbie Melgreen: The one thing that I would like to say to ALL of the Juniors who participate in this sport… PLEASE remember that there is so much more to this sport than merely walking into the ring and showing your dog! PLEASE join a kennel club and become involved in all aspects of our sport. Kennel club members are not getting any younger and we need YOU to step up and become involved! You won’t be sorry!
9. Have you any advice you’d like to offer to your winning Junior?
Debbie Melgreen: Advice to my winning Junior? Keep doing what you’re doing! You have wonderful hands on a dog, and as with most great handlers, you are able to make your dog shine without drawing attention to yourself!
10. Based on this assignment, would you say that the future of the sport is in capable hands?
Debbie Melgreen: Based on this assignment? Yes, I would definitely say that the future of our sport is in capable hands. It was an honor and a privilege to judge this event!
Junior Showmanship Judge Debbie Melgreen