Wellington resident Lydia Armstrong Frey is among the judges at the 147th annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, presented by Purina Pro Plan, in New York on May 8-9. The iconic dog show is set to return to New York City at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows. She is one of two judges for the Junior Showmanship Preliminaries.
Armstrong Frey began in dogs after years of watching dog shows on TV and dreaming of being in the sport. She received her first show dog, a standard schnauzer puppy, for her ninth birthday. From there, she traveled and learned from many breeders and professional handlers who mentored her in the sport.
At age 12, Armstrong Frey got her first Bedlington terrier from Laurie Zembrzuski and Gaby Gilbeau of the acclaimed LAMZ Bedlington terrier kennel. After several years of learning the breed, she became successful in both the breed and Junior Showmanship ring. At 15, she was Best Junior Handler at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show and the World Dog Show in Milan, Italy. By the time she was 18, she had won Best of Breed at two Bedlington terrier national specialties, holding the record for the youngest handler to do so.
In recent years, Armstrong Frey had added pointers to her household, handling several dogs to top five breed ranking positions and accumulating several wins with the help of her co-breeder and mentor, Tina McDonnell. She has bred champion standard schnauzers, Bedlington terriers, Kerry Blue terriers, toy Manchester terriers and pointers.
As the daughter of two famous horse show professionals, her life has always been focused on animal sports and events. This is her first Westminster judging assignment.
Junior Showmanship is a competition assessing the handling skills of children 9 to 18 years of age independent of the traits of the dog.
The competition promotes proper training and care to prepare future generations for responsible dog ownership, sportsmanship and future success in the sport. There is a preliminary judging round where nearly 100 juniors from across the country are judged with eight finalists being selected to move on to the finals.
The finals competition brings the eight finalists together for one more round of competition. The first-place winner is crowned Best Junior Handler followed by second, third and fourth placements. Since 2010, the Westminster Kennel Club has offered Junior Showmanship Finalist Scholarship Awards to the eight finalists at the show.
Learn more about the show at www.westminsterkennelclub.org.