Sisters Lian Chase and Jade Chase from Peyton, Colorado, are powerful competitors in the show ring—and they’re still teenagers.
Lian, who is 18, got involved with showing dogs through 4-H when she was 9 years old, and began with AKC shows when she was 11. Younger sister Jade, 15, also began showing dogs through 4-H when she was 11, and soon after got involved with AKC events.
The sisters have kept busy ever since. A versatile handler, Lian primarily shows Black Russian Terriers and Staffordshire Bull Terriers, but also Collies, Border Collies, Portuguese Water Dogs, Belgian Malinois, Bernese Mountain Dogs, and Great Danes. Jade, on the other hand, primarily shows Miniature Pinschers and Portuguese Water Dogs, along with her family’s Black Russian Terriers and Russian Toys, but also Collies, Bloodhounds, Border Collies, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Great Danes, and Field Spaniels.
Success in the Ring
Despite their young ages, Jade and Lian are already extremely accomplished handlers.
- Lian had the No. 1 Terrier Junior in 2016
- Lian has qualified for the Master class every year since 2015
- Lian was the No. 2 Working Group Junior in 2018 with her Black Russian Terrier Demi (GCH S Windmill Run Demeter).
- Lian ranked Demi the No. 1 Black Russian Terrier Bitch in Breed points and All-Breed points and the No. 1 NOHS Black Russian Terrier that year
- Lian put a Bronze Grand Championship on and was Number 2 Junior Overall in 2019 with GCH B Naissur Trip to the Candy Store.
- Trip has also been ranked in the Top 5 for Breed points for the past two years.
- Learn won Best Junior at the Brevard Kennel Club the weekend of the National Championship, with Trip winning over 100 plus Juniors.
- Both of Lian’s Black Russians Terriers, Demi and Trip, have won Multiple Groups and Group Placements as well as multiple NOHS Best in Shows.
- Lian also shows a Belgian Malinois named Echo (GCH Concho’s She’s My Little Whiskey Girl) achieving Number 2 Herding Junior in 2019 and Number 2 All Breed Belgian Malinois.
- Jade is currently ranked No. 1 Portuguese Water Dog Junior and No. 1 Border Collie Junior
- Jade is the No. 4 Junior in the country
- Jade won Best in Show Owner Handled with her Miniature Pinscher, Lola (GCH Sabrie’s Frankly It’s My Show), at a big Toy Specialty
- Jade finished her first Champion Miniature Pinscher, Mia (CH Marlex Sunsprite How Can I Resist You.
“It feels very rewarding to have had so much success in Juniors because I realize the time and effort I put into grooming, training, and conditioning my dogs pays off,” says Jade. “I never set my goals according to rankings—I try to improve every time I go in the ring and learn more about the breeds I show. I understand the rankings go up and down, especially with limited showing this year, so I try to focus on what I need to improve.”
Both Jade and Lian list competing at Westminster as a highlight of their Juniors careers. At Westminster 2020, Jade made it to the Preliminary round with her Portuguese Water Dog Page (GCH Marshview Xtra Xtra Read All About It).
“Before I went to Westminster, I saw all the handlers and dogs in magazines, and going to Westminster and seeing them all in person was a dream come true,” Lian says. “Even now as I have gone a few times, the rush of all the lights, crowds, and all the top dogs in the country will never get old.”
Although some might find it challenging to compete with your sibling, both Jade and Lian say they enjoy being able to share the experience with each other.
“Sharing an interest in dog sports with my sister is actually very enjoyable,” Jade says. “She’s helped me out numerous times when I was just starting out in dogs and Juniors. And, even today, she still gives me great advice and tips/pointers when I’m showing and training.”
Lian agrees that competing with her sister has made her a better competitor and taught her a lot of new things. “Jade and I have different styles of showing, so I have learned from her style and improved on areas of my own from her example,” she says. “I also really enjoy watching her show because I know what she and the dog have been working on lately and I get to see how that applies in the ring.”
Jade and Lian not only compete together but also train together. “Working with our Juniors dogs together is always a lot of fun because I can see it from the perspective of a competitor and a judge,” Lian says. “Jade and I are both very competitive, but we’re very different people and we play into our different strengths. Even if one of us beats the other, it’s still a win for the both of us.”
In addition to competing in Conformation, Lian enjoys competing with her dogs in Obedience and Rally. “I love showing in conformation, but having a really clean Obedience/Rally run is just as rewarding as a Best Junior!” she explains. Her dog Phoebe has earned a CD and a Rally Excellent title, and Lian has also put Rally Intermediate and a Grand Championship on her Collie (Smooth) Keegan (GCH Wild Winds Too Good to be Tru).
“The thing I enjoy the most about performance events is how it focuses more on training and format and less on presentation,” Lian notes. “I also appreciate that performance events are not as subjective as Juniors.”
Fortunately, her dogs enjoy sports like Obedience and Rally just as much as she does. “Performance events are good for the dogs and give them purpose and play to their breed’s strengths.”
Learning to Breed
Lian is an active member of the Black Russian Terrier Club of America and writes a column for their quarterly newsletter. Her passion for the breed has extended to starting her own breeding program under the name Naissur.
“All of this wouldn’t be possible without my mentor and kennel partner, Patty Bartley Shonts,” Lian says. “Starting a breeding program has been a huge learning curve. There are so many factors that go into starting a program, like pedigrees, health testing, kennel set-up, puppy contracts, whelping, socialization, and training.”
She is particularly excited about her current litter. “I feel like my kennel is moving forward and I hope to be in the ring soon with my first-bred.”
Advice for Kids and Teens
Jade and Lian encourage other kids and teens to get involved in dog sports, and they agree on the number one piece of advice: Find mentors.
Both sisters speak passionately about how mentors have impacted their lives and show careers—and how grateful they are to those mentors for introducing them to favorite breeds.
“If it wasn’t for the mentors I have, I would not be as successful in the breeds I show,” Jade says. “Mentors teach you breed-specific grooming and handling. I think many judges appreciate when Juniors know specific handling techniques for their breed. Plus, mentors can help you meet people, which is what makes dog shows so much fun.”
For anyone new to the sport, or to a breed, connecting with more experienced mentors is invaluable. Mentors can support you with practical skills needed to be successful, as well as connections to other people of all ages.
“Mentorship is so important in the dog world,” Jade says. “In my opinion, you can’t get really involved in this sport without someone guiding/helping you. Mentors guide you in making good decisions, help you find quality dogs, and give advice when needed. They’re kind of like our coaches in this sport.”
With this in mind, Lian encourages kids looking to get involved in dog sports to “find many mentors and learn as much as they can, because it’s not enough to be good at something—you have to keep getting better.”
Jade suggests that kids and teens interested in getting involved in dog sports connect with different groups and people in their local community. “Go to local dog-handling classes and join a local kennel club or breed club to meet people,” she says. “Don’t get discouraged—find people who build you up and encourage you, because there will be a lot of ups and downs.”
The Future Is Bright
These remarkable sisters have already accomplished amazing things with their dogs and they have big goals for the future in their dog careers, both individually and together.
“My immediate plans are to enjoy my last few years in Juniors with my upcoming prospects and to continue showing in the breed ring,” Jade says. “I will continue to work for handlers to learn how to run a set-up and to learn from their experience. I’m also looking forward to my first litter of puppies.”
Lian has just finished her first semester of college studying business, and is working on formal plans for her handling business. “My time as a Junior has taught me a lot and I’m excited to expand on that knowledge in the future,” she says, adding that she and Jade hope to open a dog-grooming business. “My long-term goal is to have a dog business with my sister where we each work off our strengths to offer top-quality dog services.”
Getting Started in AKC Juniors
Teens and children under 18 have the chance to learn about good sportsmanship, dogs, and dog shows, and develop their handling skills with the AKC Juniors Program.
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 a junior, they should first 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 let them to both take classes and compete.
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.