Dog show’s young handlers take a grown-up sport in stride

  • In the July 2016 photo provided by Alysha Towell, sixteen-year-old Cortlund Towel touches his forehead against his dog Merlyn’s head at the Houston World Dog Show in Houston, Texas. The Westminster Kennel Club competition is best known for the dog crowned Best in Show, but it’s also a showcase for young handlers who sometimes go up against grown-ups. (Alysha Towell via AP)

  • Dog handlers Maren LaPlante, 13, left, and her sister Erin LaPlante, 17, of Caledonia, Wis., pose with Thandy, a Chinese crested, at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Monday, Feb. 12, 2018 in New York. There’s no age minimum for handlers in the breed rings, and kids as young as 7 have competed there. (AP Photo/Jennifer Peltz)

NEW YORK — Fenric Towell isn’t nervous about his first time competing at the nation’s top dog show. After all, he’s heading to the Westminster Kennel Club ring this week with 100-plus shows under his belt, a record of wins and a champion Lakeland terrier.