Most parents of teenagers willingly admit that they have little idea what’s going on in between those earbud-plugged ears.
The same, logically, applied to the Juniors in our sport: Even when there isn’t a pandemic upending the dog-show world as we know it, do we really have any clue about ups and downs that are going on behind the high-wattage smiles and perfectly executed down and backs?
Kelly Lyn Marquis would like to find out.
Kelly, a well-known Doberman handler from Fremont, New Hampshire, is also a certified life coach. Since the onset of the pandemic, she has been offering pro-bono sessions to handlers and others in the dog sport who need help sorting out their feelings and priorities during these unsettling times.
On October 6 from 7 to 8 p.m. EST, Kelly will debut “Meet the Professionals,” an ongoing series of webinars via Zoom aimed at helping junior handlers feel more connected with dog shows and the people who are a part of them.
“I want to open the door and see what evolves,” she says of the webinars. “What better way to impact our world than with our youth?”
Kelly was inspired to create the program after observing her 12-year-old daughter Gabrielle feeling sad and depressed when she couldn’t compete in basketball because of the pandemic.
“I got to thinking about all the kids in our sport who must miss doing their favorite activity – showing dogs,” she explains. “Although I can’t make dog shows happen, I can help bring a sense of connection to junior handlers during these challenging times.”
The first webinar will feature “Tuni” Conti, an AKC-approved junior showmanship judge and the 2015 AKC Registered Handlers Program Handler of the Year. Ample time will be allotted for questions from juniors at the end of the session.
Handling and training styles can vary widely from breed to breed, and from coast to coast. “I see this as an opportunity to bridge that gap, and a way to open the door to seeing things a different way,” Kelly says, adding that this forum has the potential to unite juniors on a national level. “There’s a big world out there.”
In addition to allowing juniors to get to know top professional handlers on a more personal level and learning some hard-won training and handling tips, Kelly hopes the webinars will also give juniors who don’t have mentors access much-needed support.
“Many juniors can fall through the cracks or suffer greatly without a knowledgeable, trustworthy person to guide them,” Kelly says. “I want to provide information and resources that will help junior handlers navigate the dog show community safely, professionally, and enjoyably.
That includes teaching them what they will need mentally and emotionally in order to put things in perspective. “We all know what it’s like to put your heart and soul into a dog, and have a client or a competitor or just someone with a throw-away comment just pull that out from under you.”
The fee for “Meet the Professionals” is $25; several tickets have already been donated to help make the program accessible to everyone regardless of financial means. Fanciers who wish to support this project can sponsor a junior or purchase a ticket to be donated to another. Visit https://www.winall.us/events/meet-the-professionals-tuni-conti/ or contact Kelly at Kelly@winall.us or call or text 603-770-5607.