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page last updated March 19, 2015  

JUNIORS STORIES

Never a Dull Moment
by
Amanda Barabas 

            It’s easy to spot the Junior Handlers that enjoy a challenge; just take note of who’s showing a scent hound. This definitely includes those who have chosen the merry little Beagle for their Juniors dog. This breed may be more difficult to train and less flashy than some breeds in Junior Showmanship, but once a strong bond is formed between the Junior and their Beagle, they can have just as much success and much more fun than any other person competing.

When I first became interested in showing dogs, I naturally started with a Beagle because my mother was already involved in exhibiting the breed. Even though I had travelled with her to many shows before stepping in a ring myself, I was blind to how much work is involved. I entered Juniors for the first time with one of her older males who had an idea of what was expected of him. I assumed this meant I didn’t have to practice and, despite many arguments with my mom, I didn’t. My first experience in the ring was also my worst. My dog was more interested in sniffing the ring than being stacked and my attempts to free stack instead were a failure as he jumped on me to get his bait. I immediately claimed I’d never show a dog again, but later on my travesty ring performance made me even more determined to continue showing.

            I later moved on to showing a ten month old puppy for Juniors and since then I have trained any dog I show. Training any Beagle requires a plentiful amount of food. They get bored easily and will only work if there is some kind of reward for them. Outside of a weekly conformation class, I have many short training sessions a day with puppies. Randomly, throughout the day I will stack the puppy for a few seconds with a tasty reward to follow and practice short gaiting patterns. They catch on quickly, so keeping sessions short prevents boredom from setting in.

            Beagles are a breed that will always keep you on toes in the ring. They were bred to have their noses to the ground and that’s where it will be if given the opportunity. Your efforts to keep that head up will be greater if you encounter a ring full of bait from previous classes. They also have many surprises of their own that will come up at some point in their show career. One time in Juniors, I had slightly loosened my grip on my Beagle’s collar to fix her foot and, just as the judge walked down the line, she lunged forward and grabbed the bait from another girl’s armband. This same Beagle is also known for unexpected lunges at my own armband for bait and knew to look ahead to the next one for more food.

            Beagles definitely aren’t the easier breed to show, but your ring experiences with them are bound to be anything but boring. Their antics will keep any handler prepared for the unexpected and once their energy is harnessed, they can be amazing show dogs for a Junior to work with.