Children aged 5-9 get first experience leading their dog in show ring.

Children who have watched dog shows on television and wondered what it would be like to lead their own dog into the show ring will get their chance June 24 at the Cumberland Fairgrounds in front of the largest American Kennel Club-sanctioned event in Northern New England, the annual Chickadee Classic Dog Show.

A Pee Wee Special Attraction has been added to the program this year to give youngsters aged 5-9 their first experience of leading their dog around the show ring in front of a judge.

“Although they will have a ‘judge’ in the ring, this is a non-judgmental experience to build the child’s confidence. In fact, the person chosen to be the ‘judge’ is there to teach, inform and encourage. All the young participants will be winners,” said Chickadee Classic show chair Nancy Daniels of Eddington.

The judge will explain the process of showing a dog in the ring to both the Pee Wee and accompanying adult. If the dog is of a size which requires being placed on a judging table, the adult will be asked to lift it instead of the child.

AKC-sanctioned Junior Showmanship, for youths aged 9-18 apprenticing to become professional dog handlers, which has long been part of the Chickadee Classic, will be the same day.

“We hope that some of the youngsters after participating in Pee Wee will watch the experienced Junior Showmanship entrants and become enthused enough to want to learn more about AKC dog sport competition,” Daniels said.

Children entered must be at least five years old and have not reached their ninth birthday.

A dog must be of at least four months of age. Bitches in heat season are not allowed on the show grounds. If a child pre-entered a bitch that goes into heat around the show dates, another dog may be substituted. All dogs must have a proper lead and collar.

Proof of rabies vaccination and other canine health certification from a veterinarian will be required to allow a dog onto the show grounds.

A responsible adult must be present with the child both inside and outside of the show ring and the adult must maintain control of the dog outside of the ring and around the show grounds.

There is no entry fee for the Pee Wee Special Attraction. Entries will be taken Saturday morning at the Show Superintendent’s tent.

Parents who want more information or other entry criteria should call Nancy Daniels at (207) 949-2112 or e-mail her at

“We welcome all children to come, learn and have fun,” Daniels said.

The 2023 Chickadee Classic will take place over four days between Thursday, June 22, and Sunday, June 25, at the Cumberland Fairgrounds, Bruce Hill Road, about 12 miles from the I-295 Cumberland exit.

Public admission is free. Bucket brigades will circulate to accept voluntary donations toward purchasing dog food for donation to local food pantries.
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