Search Menu

Junior Stories

Junior Stories Spring 2021

Thank you to Izzy, Blair, and Jack for sharing their experiences. Have your own story? Submit it to

  • Izabelle Burg +

    When I was 10 and Shiloh was 3 months old, she came to live with us.

    Mom said we needed to bond, so I slept with Shiloh so I had to get up and let her and had to let her out whenever she needed to go outside.

    Shiloh was 6 months old when she went to her first show. To get ready I had to teach her to stack. Peanut butter was used as a treat when she did well because it was a high quality treat. I made sure to praise her by saying “good stand” instead of saying “good girl” because “good girl” was never treated. After she was successful, we would let her go back to playing and roaming the house.

    After she received her champion title, I started taking her to Barn Hunt practice. I then taught her what a rat was by showing her a rat in a cage. I introduced her to the barn hunt ring and told her to “find the mouse”. Once the rat in the tube was found I would tell her “get it”. From that point she always tried to drag the tube around the ring she was never able to get a grip on the tube though.

    Once Shiloh had her RATN (Rat Novice) I took her to one of my mom’s friends training classes. First I taught her to watch, and when she looked at me I treated her. The next step was to teach her to sit. This was more difficult, as she kept standing. I never told her no, as she really wasn’t doing anything wrong. Next she was taught down. We used a treat brought it down to the ground by her face. Once she had both elbows and her butt on the ground, she was treated. I taught her to stay using the leash by telling her to stay and taking one step back and then going back and treating her and the next time when I took more steps back.

    For Coursing Ability, she had to be at least a year. When she was old enough, we started letting her chase toys. She had always loved to chase fluffy toys. When we were at a dog show in Mason City, Iowa there was a Lure Coursing course set up. We entered her in the 300 as recommended as she is a small dog. She did amazing and caught the “bunny” really fast she then ran the rest of the 600.  The lady running the course was pretty amazed that Shiloh went and ran the rest of the 600. It was then recommended that she should do the 600 from now on.

    I have enjoyed training Shiloh and the others but the reason why I do it is because they enjoy doing it as much as I do. Some dogs have natural instinct for a sport other you have to train but either way you dog should enjoy the sport with you.

  • Blair Hooser +

    Animals have always been an integral part of my life. My family had dogs as I was growing up, but most of my time as a young child was spent with equestrian sports. In middle school, I joined the 4H dog project for my county and it was there that I was introduced to canine sports. For one of the fun matches, we had an instructor from the local kennel club, the Greater Lafayette Kennel Club (GLKC), judge the agility portion, and she suggested that I take classes. I have learned so much from all of the instructors at the GLKC and it truly became like a second home for me.

    I was lucky enough to attend both undergraduate and veterinary school in the same town. This has given me the opportunity to continue training and competing with my dogs while attending college. Some of my best experiences in AKC events have been spending time with my family. Training and competing with dogs has brought me even closer with my mom and my aunt as we co-own our dogs and go to many of these events together. This past summer my mother and I whelped a papillon litter together which was equal parts exhausting and wonderful.

    In addition to training and competing with our dogs, I also found that I have a passion for community outreach. Being involved with purebred dogs has made me aware of the growing need to promote responsible breeders and help educate the public about responsible dog ownership. As our club’s first AKC Canine Ambassador, I coordinated with other club members to form a Community Outreach committee to expand community education programming significantly and enhance our public visibility. Our club was honored and excited to be the first recipients of the AKC Public Education Award. My committee developed a broad approach to promote responsible dog ownership in the Greater Lafayette area. Each year we have set up educational booths at several community events and festivals, hosted two AKC Patch Programs at our all-breed conformation shows, and hosted a Canine Art Contest in conjunction with our local art museum.

    As I am starting my 4th, and clinical year of vet school, my time will be limited. Moreover, with the global COVID-19 pandemic, the way we all enjoy participating in canine sports will likely be different from what we knew in the past. My goal is to use this time to work on both my skills and my canine partners’ so that next year we can come back stronger than we were before. The upcoming year will also start a new chapter in my life as I join the profession of veterinary medicine and make a positive impact in the lives of dog breeders and owners. Canine sports has become such an important part of who I am that I want to also help mentor new and younger members. I believe that we need to think outside of the box and come up with new and inventive ideas to help promote our wonderful dogs and the sports that we love.

  • Jack Wittke +

    Hi, my name is Jack, and I am 9 years old.  I train my Golden Retriever, Gem, in dock diving and Agility.  I remember the first time I met Gem.  We were both so excited and had a very special bond from the beginning.  She seemed to pick me to be her boy.  Gem was 9 months old when she came to live with me.  That’s where our journey began.

    I started training Gem in dock diving.  We loved dock diving and attended the NADD/AKC National Championships in 2018.

    I also started working hard to learn how to be a good agility handler for Gem.  My first agility show was September 28, 2019.  As I walked the course, I was a little nervous, but knew I wanted to give it a try.  I walked into the ring with Gem for the first time, and I was patient as I got her focused on the first jump.  Once she was focused, I gave her the ok and off we went.  Gem listened and followed me.  We had a great run, and even qualified!  I was very happy.  Everyone cheered for me and Gem. The judge shook my hand after the run and gave me a signed copy of the course map with the message “Jack, great run!! You and Gem are a SUPER team.”  It all made me feel very good and excited to continue our agility journey.

    I love training Gem and can’t wait to show her again in agility.  I am also looking forward to training and showing her in obedience and rally.  Thank you to everyone who helps and encourages me.  I am learning so much.

    I feel very lucky to have Gem in my life.  Our motto is “Always Better Together.”  I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us.