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The phrase “go for the gold” certainly applies to Jada Sawhney. The 12-year-old junior handler has earned dozens of awards in dog sports with her two Golden Retrievers: Four-year-old Bentley and 18-month-old Tally.

While she competes in Agility, Obedience, Rally, and Junior Showmanship, Agility is her favorite. “It’s really fun to run with your dog through a course and get to connect with them,” Jada says.

True Versatility

Jada’s versatility in so many sports is what earned her a 2019 Junior Versatility Award, which recognizes kids who participate in at least three dog sports. She is currently the top junior in Obedience and Rally and will be competing in the Junior Agility Competition and the Junior Obedience and Rally Classic at the 2019 AKC National Championships, where she will receive her award.

“It feels amazing to be selected for one of the Junior Versatility Awards because it shows how versatile I am and how hard I worked for it,” Jada says. “I went to shows all around my state, Florida, and I competed almost every weekend.”

Jada started training dogs when she was just five, then she started working with her dogs in 4-H. She started showing dogs with the AKC two years ago, at age 10.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Aside from earning the Junior Versatility Award, Jada is most proud of earning her dog’s Rally Master Title. “It felt really special because we’ve worked really hard for this and we’re working currently towards our RACH and we are almost there,” she says.

Being successful in dog sports doesn’t come easy — whether you’re a kid or an adult. But Jada knows this. She is an example of how much practice matters. “My advice to give to other junior handlers is to work hard with your dog,” she says. “I practice every day and to get better, you need to practice.”

Want to Get Involved?

The AKC Juniors program offers children and teens 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, the AKC will award the Junior Versatility Awards and Scholarships. You can learn more about the AKC Junior Recognition Program.

For more information, email your questions to Juniors@akc.org.

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