2017 AKC Scholarship Recipient Samantha Van Buren

I am currently attending the University of Minnesota. I am studying environmental studies and animal science. I plan to pursue a career in these fields. I also plan to stay involved with AKC dog events, as it is my passion and I think I can contribute positively to the future of the sport, as well as the future of my beloved dog breeds, the Australian Terrier, the Chihuahua, and the Mudi.

I began in junior showmanship when I was in the sixth grade. My teacher encouraged me to do an end of year project on dog shows since I loved dogs. After my research, I was convinced it was something I wanted to try. With my parents’ support, I got my first dog, Sunny, a long coat Chihuahua.  I began training and learning at the Animal Inn in St. Paul, MN. I was fortunate to have the mentorship of many people along the way, my sixth-grade teacher, as well as several instructors at the Animal Inn, and the breeders of my dogs and their friends. I am thankful for all who have supported me along the way and helped me grow and develop my skills as a handler.

While in college, I plan to continue working at our local dog training club as an agility instructor. This allows me to keep up training my own dogs and participate in events as time in college allows. After college, I plan to get involved in more conformation and agility events. Also, I hope to breed Chihuahuas and possibly Mudik as well. I am a member of the Mudi Club of America and would like to help bring this breed to full AKC recognition. I am also particularly excited about the new AKC Trick Dog titles, as I have a special bond with my dog, Judy, who I have had a lot of fun teaching tricks and posting videos of her on Instagram and Facebook. I feel this is a great way to share some humor and inspire others.

I would advise junior handlers competing today to get involved in their local clubs. This is a great way to network with others involved in the sport and seek out volunteer opportunities at shows. Participation in AKC events is a fun and rewarding experience that helps build a close bond with your dog, and also teaches you how to communicate with others in all aspects of life, and to win and lose with dignity and grace.

Samantha Van Buren