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Junior Spotlight

Junior Report: Greg Hilarie

Hi there future Junior handlers. My name is Greg and my Black labs name is Rogue. Rogue and I recently received our junior title in September 2021 in AKC Hunt testing. Earning our junior title was our goal for this year as well as to prepare for moving on next year into our senior title, as well as to have a good waterfowl season as well. Along with earning our title I also received the most points by a junior handler in AKC hunt test events. Rogue and I have each learned a lot along the way and have progressed as a team immensely. Throughout this letter I will explain how Rogue and I have prepared to compete in our events.

My story first began when I realized I wanted to waterfowl hunt and even train my own retriever in November 2016. This is when I was invited to my first goose hunt ever. I was having a great first hunt until we noticed that we had a Crippled Canada Goose land some 400 yards out from our spread. This is when I got to watch a dog named Adirondack Bart preform a blind retrieve. I found it very interesting and cool that a dog could understand a series of hand motions and whistles given from the handler to find an item. The dog and handler I was honored to hunt with is my now great friend Kevin Crinklaw and his golden retriever “Bart”.

I got my first lab in May 2018. His name was Gunner, him and I also worked together well but we were only able to make it on one goose hunt together where Gunner made his first and only retrieve together. Gunner was diagnosed with Addison’s disease at about 1 and a half years old. Addison’s disease is a disease that affects the victim’s kidneys in turn eventually making them shut down. Gunner passed at just under 2 years old. I was not going to let this stop me from doing something I loved so much. I got Rogue in May 2020. Rogue and I built a strong connection from the start and I believe that was a big help in getting us to where we are today.

I think the best way to prepare your pup for hunting, hunt tests or any AKC event begins with the day your able to meet your dog. This is because every bit of work you put in before the event will show leading up to and during the event. I was honored and gifted with the ability to train with a few great handlers. One being Kevin who handled Bart in my first hunt and the other being Tom who also handles a golden named Durk. We train every weekend and individually on the weekdays. I think its important to keep steady training habits and schedules. No matter the age or experience of the dog. Another too I used while training my dogs was the book titled “Training retrievers for marshes and meadows” by James B Spencer. I think training with Kevin and Tom has helped me the most. Training with others allows for others to give and get more ideas and opinions for corrections and things to build on. As well as you will build friendships of a lifetime.

Going into your first AKC event should be exciting, you might be nervous, but it should be something your excited to do. Here you will get to show off the work you and your dog have done together. I recommend going to watch an event prior to yours. This way you will know what to expect and it should clear up some of the questions you might have.

These are some of the ways Rogue and I prepare for AKC events as well as how we train and my story of how I got started in the retriever world. I hope this is helpful for a future junior handler like I once was. Good luck to you and your pup and have fun with your future accomplishments. Junior Report: Jessica Anichini