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Vicki E. Allenbrand – 2023 National Dog Show Junior Showmanship Judge

Vicki E. Allenbrand


Interview with Vicki E. Allenbrand – 2023 National Dog Show Junior Showmanship Judge

Can I describe my reaction to receiving an invitation to judge the Junior Showmanship competition at this year’s National Dog Show Presented by Purina?

I was absolutely thrilled to receive the invitation to judge the Juniors at this prestigious event. I have been an advocate for Junior Showmanship for a very long time, and to be able to see some of the best in the country compete was an honor.


How did I prepare for this assignment? Any “day of” strategies?

To prepare for the assignment, I studied the breeds that would be showing from the list that was provided to me in advance. I wanted to see each of the individuals showing their dogs in a breed-specific manner. The day of strategy was to be prepared to ask for additional ring procedures, ones they may not be asked in every competition, because I knew it was not going to be easy to select a top Junior from a group of elite handlers.


Can I talk a bit about my typical process for judging Junior Showmanship?

My process is to pay close attention to each of the Juniors from the moment they enter the ring. Are they paying attention to their dogs, the judge, and where they are in the ring? There are multiple breeds being presented, and most should be handled differently than others. For instance, the way they should be stacked or the speed they should be moved can vary from breed to breed.


Was there a heightened energy in my ring? Did I feel any energy from ringside?

Definitely! There was a lot of energy in and out of the ring. The Juniors were on their game and the crowd was growing as we moved closer to the final line up.


Did the Juniors in my ring seem especially focused? Any nerves on display?

They were all extremely focused. I could tell some were nervous, so I tried to help keep the ring enjoyable. They were all there to win and that is what I love to see!


How evident was breed-specific presentation among the finalists?

It was very evident that the final line-up knew their breeds well and were very focused on showing me just how well they knew them.


With so much talent in my ring, how challenging was this assignment?

This was a very challenging assignment. Every one of the Juniors in the ring could win on any given day. It was my job to narrow it down—and that was not an easy one. It was a step-by-step process of watching to see who stood out the most by being the most effective with their breed.


Is there anything I’d like to say to this year’s Junior Handlers?

Every one of you is very talented and could win on any given day. Keep working with your dogs and watch professional handlers showing your breed to see what they are doing to showcase their dogs. It is always a great idea to learn from others. Also, talk to some of the professionals, they would be more than happy to give you some tips and help you out.


All of them were great sports, very pleasant, and you can tell they truly have a passion for their breeds.

Do I have any advice that I’d like to offer to my winning Junior?

The young lady who was awarded Best Junior was incredible to watch. She was showing an Australian Cattle Dog that is not always the easiest breed to show. It was obvious they had a close bond; how she paid attention to her dog the entire time and made sure that she was presented the best she could be the entire time. She is incredibly talented and has a great hand. It was all about the dog, with her in the background, just like it should be. She definitely has a great future ahead of her!


Based on this assignment, would I say that the future of purebred dogs is in capable hands?

Absolutely, so many enthusiastic Juniors in the ring that day. All of them were great sports, very pleasant, and you can tell they truly have a passion for their breeds.