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Junior Spotlight

Junior Report: Christopher Plank

Hello, my name is Christopher Plank, I was born and raised in Waterloo, Illinois. Throughout my childhood, I have had the opportunity to grow up with White German Shepherds whom my grandmother bred and raised. As part of this passion, participation in these events and interacting with others has provided the opportunity to explore new environments, form new friendships, learn to problem solve in unfamiliar environments, and to expand my knowledge regarding AKC recognized breeds. This has also allowed me to grow personally and allowed for an opportunity to mentor younger junior handlers.

During my time as a Junior Handler in AKC events, I have had the opportunity to form relationships with the dogs I have handled and my peers. I have received feedback from judges to help me expand my knowledge of the various sports primarily in Rally and Agility. I have competed in Fast Cat, Agility, Rally, and Scentwork. Through various events my dogs and I have learned new skills and formed new communication skills.

Prior to competing in AKC events, I was shy and primarily kept to myself. As I reflect, I can see how I have come to be a leader, more outgoing, a teammate, and a responsible handler over the past 5 years. The lessons and values gained from working with, training, and competing in these events have increased my self-confidence, taught me problem solving skills, taught me responsibility, generosity, and respect. I now have a community of peers who share similar interests from other junior handlers to adults.

I had the opportunity to grow up in a home where AKC White German Shepherds were bred and raised. This allowed me to bond with the dogs in a unique way and aid in their socialization. I also believe this has led to an improved understanding of their wellness and health needs. In the future, I believe these experiences will assist me to be a responsible dog owner and to make responsible choices regarding potential engagement as a breeder.

I hope to continue to participate in AKC events for many years to come. As the dogs I currently am handling are aging, I have begun to explore options and consider timing of raising a new dog whom I hope to continue to exhibit in AKC events. While much of my involvement to date has been in agility, I have enjoyed exploring rally, fast cat, dock diving, scentwork and hope to expand my participation in the future with my next AKC companion.