published: Friday, February 03, 2012
Westminster up next for teen
By SAMANTHA GHOLAR
SEBRING -- You first met Jayda Knight-Austin and her 130-pound bullmastiff Hoss back in early December when the 14-year-old was gearing up for a national championship dog show in Orlando.
Continuing to impress judges with win after win, it's only logical that Austin would be one of the few lucky dog handlers to be invited to the biggest dog show in the country -- the New York Westminster Kennel Club Show.
In just less than a week, Austin, her parents and Hoss will load up their vehicle and hit the road for the 20-hour drive to New York where Austin will participate in her first Westminster Show.
"She's got the countdown going," said Jayda's proud mother Jackie Knight-Austin.
Austin has been going non-stop since her Orlando show just before Christmas.
"We just got back from South Carolina last weekend. She did very well up there. She's been doing a lot," Austin said.
Practicing is definitely a good thing when it comes to this particular show.
The Westminster Kennel Club Show is a internationally televised event that draws millions of viewers and thousands of attendees.
The annual show is in it's 136th year and will be broadcast live from Madison Square Garden Feb. 13-14.
Austin will face 109 other junior handlers, 11 of which are from Florida, however she will also be showing two dogs.
"She will be showing also a German pinscher for a lady who is part of our dog club here in Sebring," said Austin. "She (the pinscher's owner) has seen Jayda show many times before and decided to let her. With her showing two dogs she has a good chance to get on TV."
Both Hoss and the German pinscher Austin will also show are members of the working breed category, giving her double the chances of being named Best in Show.
The Junior Showmanship preliminaries will take place under two judges. Each judge selects four junior handlers to advance to the finals.
A total of eight finalists meet in the ring for the Best Junior title on Tuesday evening, according to the WKC website.
Since the Junior Show was added to the WKC Show in 1934, there have only been three winners from the state of Florida (1977, 1996, 2002), all of which were male handlers. Austin is hoping to change that statistic very soon.
"We are excited. We all are. Hoss is very excited too. If he sees us packing bags he gets extremely excited and will squeal very loud and sit at the door. She (Jayda) never puts him in his crate at home but she has to when we get ready to leave for a trip. He really enjoys it," Austin said with a laugh.
"We've just had so much support from everyone, especially people in the community," Austin said.
The Junior Showmanship preliminaries will take place Feb. 13 with the finals to follow at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 14. The Sporting, Working, Terrier, and Best In Show competition will be televised Feb. 14 on USA Network from 8-11 p.m.
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