At just 15 years old, junior handler David Frasca has been competing in dog sports for two-thirds of his life. He works with six dogs in six sports: Agility, Rally, Obedience, CAT, Fast CAT, and Herding.
David started in sports at five years old, but ten years later, he still can’t choose a favorite between Agility and Obedience.
For the Fun of the Dog
His versatility in so many sports is what earned him a 2018 Junior Versatility Award, which recognizes kids who participate in at least three dog sports. He earned a $3,000 scholarship.
“It felt pretty good to win,” David says. “But it did not change my competitive level much, because I’m not actually very competitive in dog sports. It’s more for the fun of the dog.”
His positive attitude is clear when you see him compete with his dogs: Brio, an eight-year-old Golden Retriever; Bling, a Border Collie; Flurry, Bling’s two-year-old puppy; Shiraz, a four-year-old Standard Schnauzer; Vader, a five-year-old Golden Retriever; and Danny, an eight-year-old French Bulldog.
“My favorite memory handling my dog is when I showed Vader in the 2017 Junior Agility Competition,” David says. “I sent him in a tunnel, and I was in line with the exit, and I didn’t see my dog. I was really confused. And next thing I know, I see him come around an arc in the tunnel, and there is he is rolling in the tunnel. I started laughing. I heard the crowd behind me laughing. But you know what? I started calling him out, and we went on just and finished the course just as it was.”
Dogs Make Mistakes
David says patience is key in training dogs. It took his Border Collie, Bling, more than two years to take the dumbbell out of his hand, but he just kept using different training techniques until she picked up the behavior.
David’s advice to other kids is to remember dogs aren’t robots, and neither are humans. “We make mistakes,” he says. “The dogs are going to make mistakes too.”
He also emphasizes the need to have an open mind. “When [mistakes] happen, you just got to roll with it and move on,” David says. “Sometimes you have to laugh at the dog. And you know what? If you need to, that’s perfectly fine. Having fun with your dogs is one of the biggest things about showing your dog.”
Enjoying the Community of Dog Sports
David’s final suggestion is to take advice from everyone.
“That is one of the great things about dog sports — the community is great almost all the time,” David says. “Most of the time, you will not meet somebody who’s trying to make you worse in dog sports.”
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.
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. They obtain the same titles 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.