Savannah and Moose at one of their very first shows.

Savannah and Moose at one of their very first shows.

Savannah's article-Interview of a Junior Handler in Bloodhounds

Savannah with her
Champion rabbit, Lady,
at the Lafayette County 4-H

Savannah's article-Interview of a Junior Handler in Bloodhounds

Our second show was
outside which presented
new challenges from an
indoor show.

Savannah's article-Interview of a Junior Handler in Bloodhounds

Winning in Minnesota.

It was huge confidence booster to be asked by a professional handler to help her show.

It was huge confidence booster
to be asked by a professional
handler to help her show.

Moose, shown by my Dad, Russ Swigart, at the 2013 Bloodhound Nationals.

Moose, shown by my Dad,
Russ Swigart, at the 2013
Bloodhound Nationals.

Savannah qualifying for her black belt with Dad holding her boards.

Savannah qualifying for
her black belt with
Dad holding her boards.

Showing a bloodhound from a Junior’s perspective is unique because we have so few Juniors in our breed currently showing. There are even fewer Juniors willing to also take this breed into the Showmanship ring. This presents a challenge that most of their competitors will not have as they show breeds that are more geared toward pleasing their owner and less focused on the next scent.

To gain more of a junior’s perspective we interviewed a new junior to the showmanship and breed ring, Savannah Swigart.

Savannah is an 8thGrade student at Lafayette County C-1 Middle School in Higginsville, Missouri. She will be turning 14 years old on November 15th, 2014. Besides showing dogs she has shown rabbits in 4-H having the County Champion rabbit earning 5 4-H plaques in 2012; she is no longer showing rabbits devoting her time to only showing dogs. Her other hobbies include computer gaming in which she would like to make a career out of in the future. Savannah also has a 1st Degree Black Belt in Karate that she spent 3 years earning.

When did you start showing dogs/bloodhounds?

I am currently working on completing my first year in showing any dogs.

Who helped you get started?

There are three people who helped me get started in showing – Susannah Anderson, Marlene Groves, and, my Mom, Julie Swigart.

Why bloodhounds?

My Mom was already showing Bloodhounds but I really like their squishy faces, wrinkles, goofiness, and fun attitude.

Do you show in both juniors and breed?

Yes, I currently do show in both the breed ring and the showmanship ring with the same dog, Moose.

Is there a difference between showing in the breed ring and showing in the junior ring?

There is a difference in showing in the junior showmanship ring because the judge is not only looking at your dog they are more focused on what you are doing while in the ring and outside the ring. When showing in the breed ring they are more focused on the breed verses the movement of the person showing the dog. Showing against adults adds to the competition in the ring not only from the dog being shown but also the adult who is showing the dog.

What are/were some of your challenges when you started showing especially with a bloodhound?

It was a challenge to figure out how to stack a bloodhound. Learning how to run and please the judge in the ring at the same time. Getting Moose to remain focused on me in the ring is still a challenge.

What were your successes?

Learning how to stack my dog, run around the ring, and please the judge is a huge success for me. I was also excited about actually winning my showmanship class a couple of times with competition.

What is different from the other dogs you have shown?

Well I have only ever shown one other breed which was a one-time experience and the breed I showed was a Yorkshire Terrier. I was showing a puppy and it was much easier than showing a bloodhound. I didn’t really have to stack the dog because of all of the hair. While it was much easier to show a Yorkshire Terrier I really didn’t like showing the dog because it didn’t present a challenge to me and I didn’t appreciate it as much as showing a Bloodhound.

What are some of the other aspects to showing a dog?

Traveling to different places to show is always fun. We get to stay in hotels and Mom always tries to get a hotel with a pool and I get to go swimming. Having to dress up for the show ring is not my favorite part but Mom says I need to appear professional and so I wear dress clothes. Meeting new people is also fun and that happens at every show but you also get to see people and the dogs that I already know is always fun and that is my favorite part. I also enjoy looking at all of the other breeds that are at the show too.

I see that you have also shown rabbits, what is the difference between showing a rabbit and showing a dog?

Showing a rabbit is completely different than showing a dog. A rabbit is groomed and then taken up to the show line and stuffed in a box. Then you walk away and wait for the judge to come along and judge your rabbit. There is no interaction between the person, rabbit, and judge; where when showing a dog you are actively involved with presenting the animal to the judge.

Is there Junior Showmanship in rabbits? If so how does that work?

Yes, you take the rabbit up to the table and pretend to be the judge in front of the judge with everyone at the same time. Once everyone is done judging he will ask each junior the name, breed, age, and have you re-judge the rabbit again in front of him.

Would you encourage other Junior’s to start showing, if so what would you say to them?

I would encourage them to start showing and if they enjoy a challenge then a Bloodhound is for them. If they want an easy breed to show that requires very little work while in the ring a Bloodhound is not for them.

How old was Moose when you started showing him in the junior showmanship ring?

Moose’s first show was at the 2013 Bloodhound Nationals in Topeka, KS at the age of 4 months old. The first show that we entered the Junior’s ring was the third show he had ever been shown in. He was only 8 months old the first time Moose and I went into the ring together.

How old was he when you first started training him?

We started working with him when he was little, making a game of stacking and being still; which would last maybe a second. He is a very active and busy boy.

A lot of young males are not always well behaved in the ring, what is your secret?

I don’t really have a secret besides just talking to him while we are in the ring together. He is a very easy boy to show for a bloodhound.

How do you keep him gaiting with you, rather than pulling or trailing in the ring?

I keep him close to my side when we run and he stays with me as we go around the ring.

What are some of the things you do in the ring to keep him focused on you?

I use bait as well as talking to him.

Many of the Junior’s classes tend to have big entries, how do you keep him entertained, from being bored when you are in the Junior’s ring?

I keep him focused on staying stacked while in the ring. This seems to help him stay less bored while we are waiting.

You have a first degree black belt in karate, do you think this accomplishment has helped you with confidence in the show ring?

I don’t see that it had an impact in my showing of dogs but my parents say that they could see my confidence, perseverance, and focus improve over the three years it took me to obtain my first degree black belt.