Interview With Linda Clark – 2022 AKC National Championship Junior Showmanship Finals Judge
“I wish to thank the judges who sent the finalists to me for the final decisions on the winner and placements. All of these judges were skilled and talented beyond belief.” -Linda Clark
Can you describe your reaction to receiving an invitation to judge the Junior Showmanship Finals at the AKC National Championship Presented by Royal Canin?
Linda Clark: I have judged Juniors from coast to coast and I felt extremely honored and excited for this invitation. Having raised my own children in Junior Showmanship and mentored other Juniors during their careers, I have a vested interest in, and a passion for, Junior Showmanship.
How did you prepare for this assignment? Any “day of” strategies?
Linda Clark: I started with a clear conscious, a full heart, and an open mind, guided through experience and knowledge. My strategy was a good night’s rest and plenty of water for hydration.
Can you talk a bit about your typical process for judging Junior Showmanship?
Linda Clark: I look for a team approach, knowledge of their breed, balance, smoothness, and gracefulness. Listening to my instructions and having awareness are key qualities as well as safety for their dog.
Was there a heightened energy in your ring? Did you feel the energy of the spectators?
Linda Clark: Most definitely, I witnessed the enthusiastic parents, mentors, spectators, and the Juniors themselves. The ring displayed a very positive and energetic environment. The electrifying energy was exciting to be a part of and an honor to judge Juniors.
Did the Juniors in your ring seem especially focused? Any nerves on display?
Linda Clark: Yes, they were all on their best game; professional, focused, and aware of their surroundings. Especially, I noticed their attention to detail for the appearance of the handler, the breed, and their charges.b
Were there any nerves on display? Not at all, I was amazed by the courtesy and professionalism presented by all.
How evident was breed-specific presentation among the finalists?
Linda Clark: They all displayed and highlighted their breed-specific qualities. The handlers were smooth and effortless, presenting a flawless picture of breed-specific type, standing and in motion.
With so much talent in your ring, how challenging was this assignment?
Linda Clark: This was one of the hardest assignments I have ever had. I had minute and difficult decisions that were hard to make from such a skilled and talented lineup of Junior Handlers. It seemed that all the handlers were professional and flawless in their presentation. Truly one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make in my career.
Is there anything you’d like to say to the Juniors who made it to the finals this year?
Linda Clark: Yes, I would like to congratulate them and wish them all the best—continued success in their future.
Have you any advice you’d like to offer to your winning Junior?
Linda Clark: Keep up the good work and continue your professionalism and positive outlook. Continue to always be courteous and love the sport.
Based on this assignment, would you say that the future of the sport is in capable hands?
Linda Clark: Yes, I am impressed with the future of our sport and I feel positive that it is in good hands. I admired each finalist for their talent and skills. They have been educated and mentored by the best and this is evident through their dedication, love, and passion. Our future is certainly in good hands.