Eleven-year-old Audrey Boyer goes by another name: Whippet Girl.
For people that know her, this isn’t surprising. Not only does she have three Whippets (Disco, Yoshi, and Major) but they are her passion. She competes with her dogs in Conformation, Rally, Obedience, and Dock Diving. Her Facebook page, Whippet Girl, is dedicated to helping educate other young people about dogs and dog sports.
Getting Started in Dog Sports as a Kid
Around age seven, Audrey remembers going to a Lure Coursing competition with her mom. “It was really exciting to watch,” Audrey says. That’s what first launched her into the world of dog sports. By age eight, she started practicing for conformation (you can start Junior Showmanship at nine).
“My favorite dog sport is Conformation because you get to build a relationship with your dog and have fun at the same time,” Audrey says. “Also, Dock Diving because your dog runs as fast as they can and then leaps off the dock and makes a really big splash which is really fun.”
With Audrey’s accomplishments and maturity, it’s easy to forget she’s only 11. When she’s not showing her dogs, she loves just hanging out with them, too. One of her favorite memories is from when Disco was a puppy. “When I came home, he tackled me to the ground and started licking me like crazy,” she says. “I was just laughing which made me really happy.”
One of her favorite parts of being a junior handler is making friends and sharing the experience with other handlers. “Also staying in tune with my dog and doing my best,” she adds.
Small but Mighty
There are three classes of junior handlers based on number of wins. Audrey is already in the Open class.
- Novice (have not yet won three first-place awards)
- Open (have won three first-place awards in a Novice)
- Master (have won the 10 Best Junior wins)
Within each class, there are three different divisions base on age. Audrey competes in the youngest group of junior handlers because of her age.
- Junior (9-11)
- Intermediate (12-14)
- Senior (15-17)
Words of Wisdom
“My biggest accomplishments so far as a handler are finishing Disco’s grand championship all by myself, placing both champions in the regular groups, and getting reserve owner-handler best in show with Major,” Audrey says. “I was really proud of that because I competed with all adults.”
While she’s still learning, Audrey is eager to share her experiences. “I would like to share to the younger kids if you’re too young to do Junior Showmanship, that’s okay,” she says. “You can always do the plush puppy competition for five and under, and the peewee competition for kids five through eight.”
She also adds that kids of any age can compete in dog sports like Rally, Obedience, Dock Diving, and Agility.
Have more questions for her? Audrey says she’s happy to answer any questions on her Facebook page, Whippet Girl.
Want to Get Involved?
The AKC Juniors program offers children under 18 an opportunity to develop their handling skills and learn about good sportsmanship, dogs, and dog shows.
Juniors are eligible to compete in Showmanship, Obedience, Agility, Rally, Tracking, Hunt Tests, Herding, Field Trials, Earthdog, Lure Coursing, Coursing Ability, and Coonhound Events. There is no minimum age requirement for sports other than Showmanship (where you must be nine).
If your child is interested in becoming an AKC Junior Handler, the first step is to watch a show and sign up for a class. Juniors under 18 years old can sign up for a Junior Handler number here. This number will be used to track their participation in AKC sports.
Except in Junior Showmanship, Juniors will exhibit in the regular classes and in the field along with all other exhibitors at the trials and tests, where they can obtain the same titles on their dogs and awards as adult handlers if they qualify.
Junior participation in AKC sports will be recognized through the AKC Junior Recognition Program and at the end of the year, AKC will award the Junior Versatility Awards and Scholarships. You can go to this link to learn more about the AKC Junior Recognition Program.
For more information, email your questions to Juniors@akc.org.