Interview with a Junior Handler, Cora Thomas
Where do you live? Where do you go to school?
I live in Johnson City, Tennessee, and go to St. Dominic Catholic School.
Do you have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? Do you have a job?
Have you grown up in a doggy family? What is your breed(s)?
Yes. We have German Shorthaired Pointers (GSPs). I love to show Portuguese Podengo Pequenos (PPPs).
How were you introduced to Junior Showmanship? When did you start competing?
What do you remember about the first time you showed as a Junior?
I remember showing “Jerry” (GCHG Houla’s Jerry Loule’ TNK), a Portuguese Podengo Pequeno I’d borrowed from Junior Taylor Stone. I found it hard at first to put the dog on the table.
How do you prepare your dog and yourself for the ring? Any rituals? Any good luck charms?
I like to pet the dogs, so they are happy and put their tails up. I like to make sure my suit and my dog both look good. I don’t have any good luck charms.
What’s it like in the ring when the pressure is on? Do you have a secret for handling the nerves?
I remind myself that I am supposed to have fun and learn.
Do you have a mentor in the sport? Have you assisted any Professional Handlers?
My Mom, Taylor Stone, and Lenore Hedemark are my mentors. Yes, I was asked by pro handler Michelle Smith Wolcott to bring the Winners Bitch into BOB in GSPs and I won Best of Winners.
Are there any wins for which you are particularly proud? Any memorable losses?
I love showing and winning in Juniors with the Portuguese Podengo Pequeno “Kutie” (CH Kaprikorn Karolina Kutie). She is a really nice dog. We get along really well, and she is the daughter of Jerry.
How do you accentuate your dog’s breed type in the ring? How do you try to stand out?
I try to follow the judge’s instructions. One time, a judge said to go around and then stack my dog the best way for the dog. Everyone else did a free-stack, but I knew my hand-stack was better. So, I did that instead. To stand out, I smile at the judge and talk to the judge, and I ask questions if I don’t understand their instructions.
Are there any breeds that you haven’t yet shown but would like to some day?
I’m looking forward to showing Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.
What can be done to encourage more young people to participate in Junior Showmanship?
Have more TV shows about it. Have them air more about Juniors on YouTube and Netflix.
Have you bred or co-bred a litter? If so, can you share what you’ve learned from the experience?
Is breeding something that you’d like to pursue? Is breed preservation important to you?
Yes and yes. I don’t want a bunch of dogs that no one would want or that would go into shelters.
What are your goals for the future? Do you see yourself continuing in the sport once you’ve aged-out?
I want to show PPPs more, and be a pro handler on the weekends when I am not working as a doctor when I finish school.
Can you share a word or two about your relationship with your current dog? What does s/he mean to you?
“Breezy” is like my sister. She loves to lick my face. I love her because she’s funny and she’s sweet.
Is there a funny story that you can share about experiences as a Junior Handler?
Last year, I was working with Mom’s dog, “Shatzi,” trying to get her to Dock Dive. She would only jump off the dock if I jumped first. It was fun for me, and it was funny to watch her bark at me and jump in to get the ball.