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Junior Spotlight

Junior Report: Emily Wentland

18 years old

I started training dogs when I was just 9 years old. I joined the local 4-H club with my family’s old rescue shih tzu, Oliver. I was hooked from the very first training session. The next year my mom allowed me to get my own dog, Levi. Levi was a Miniature American Shepherd who had a lot of issues. He spent the first nine months of his life in a kennel and when I got him he was scared of everyone and was very insecure. It was with Levi that I discovered trick training and canine musical freestyle. Training with him not only helped him to become more confident and overcome his fears, but it helped me to become more confident as well. He was a very difficult dog to train, especially as a young and inexperienced kid. But not giving up and finding ways to learn together and accomplish my goals definitely brought us closer as a team. It was him that started my love for the breed and my next two dogs were also MAS. Over the years we primarily competed in 4-H. We did a couple of AKC obedience trials over the years but getting to trials was difficult for me.

The summer of 2019 is when I made my AKC agility debut with my two current MAS, Gunner and Gucci. Again, I was hooked. I couldn’t wait to get out to more trials. Sadly, we were only able to get to a few trials before COVID happened and all shows were postponed. Making use of the virtual trick title program, the dogs earned all their trick dog titles that summer. 2020 was also the year that I got my dream breed, a Borzoi named Joy. She is the dog who got me into AKC conformation and Junior Showmanship. In 2021 we started Junior Showmanship and moved up to the Open class, I attended my first breed nationals, and we ended the year as the number 8 owner handled Borzoi after limited showing. I also managed to get to more agility trials, Gunner and Gucci both earning multiple titles. In the fall we got into some more rally and obedience, which we will be pursuing more of in the future. It was a bittersweet year. The year I was finally able to dive into dog sports also happened to be the year that I aged out of Juniors.

I’m currently a sophomore in college, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in biology. I commute to school so I can still be at home and continue training and trialing with the dogs. Each dog gets trained for just 15-20 minutes a day, working for their dinner when I get home from class. I now plan my trials around exams and assignments. On top of school and trialing, I also have a part time job and am in my last year of 4-H. I’m looking forward to more summers full of dog shows and eventually becoming a breeder. Being involved in so many things is all about time management and keeping a detailed schedule. For any Junior who is worried about managing school and shows, I can tell you it is definitely doable! You just have to be dedicated and able to prioritize your responsibilities. And to any kid who may be struggling with a difficult dog, don’t give up. The success with those difficult dogs is always worth ten times the success with the “easy” dogs.