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Junior Stories

Junior Stories Winter 2021

Thanks to Avery and Mara for sharing their experience in Junior Showmanship. We wish to feature as many juniors as possible, so please send your stories to

Avery Miller
Hello, my name is Avery Miller and I am 12 years old. I started in the competition dog world with Barn Hunt about 5 years ago with my Westie, Cutty. A few years into Barn Hunt we also started taking classes for Obedience/Rally and Scent Work.

Three years ago, my Mom heard about a Blue Tick Coonhound who needed a home. When we got him he was almost starved to death and had been tied to a tree on a short chain for weeks. He and I immediately bonded. We started doing Barn Hunt and had several people compliment on how beautiful he was. A friend of ours kept saying he should have been a “show dog”, so I asked my mom if we could show him. After some research we discovered he could be used as a Junior’s dog. We started going to Conformation classes once a week in September of 2018. Two months later we made our debut at the Tri-State Kennel Club show in Springfield, Missouri. Our first time in the ring we took Reserve Junior Handler over a large class of Juniors who I think were just as shocked as I was.  That judge told me she appreciated that I had a dog you could tell wasn’t a finished show dog. From that moment on I was hooked.

My Mom has toted me hundreds of miles so I could show every chance we’ve had and in March of 2019 we showed at Louisville and I met Kacie Davis, who ended up trusting me with one of her amazing Coonhounds which gave me the opportunity to show in Breed as well. I have managed to work my way up the rankings in Owner-Handler Breed rankings and ended the year 3rd which means I qualified for The AKC National Championship/Royal Canin. I also was lucky enough to pick up 6 Juniors wins in the Open Intermediate division which means my rescue dog Ammo and I will also get to show at the AKC National Championship/Royal Canin in Juniors.

I hope another Junior out there reads this and knows you don’t have to get the expensive show dog to do well, love and hard work are what really matters.


Mara Wacker
The sport of AKC Obedience has become a significant part of my life. I have met so many incredible people throughout participating in this sport.

In 2015, Tyson, my Novice A dog and I competed at the AKC Juniors Classic, this was our first big tournament, and we won Rally Novice and Open Obedience. I was so thrilled to do well, so we continued to train in open and utility. In 2017 Tyson became the first and only Miniature American Shepherd to achieve the Obedience Trial Champion Title. I was sixteen years old when he completed the OTCH title. We also placed 2nd Overall at the Region 10 AKC NOC Qualifier. That year we also competed at the 2017 AKC Obedience Classic in the Masters Division.

Through our mistakes at the Classic, I learned how much we needed to work on to become competitive at those events, and how much mental mindset can affect your performance. In 2018 we were finalists at Westminster in Obedience and competed at the AKC Obedience Classic in the Masters Division. We were invited to and competed at the 2018 AKC National Obedience Championship. Although an unfortunate error kept us from making the Top 50, I was very happy with Tyson’s performance at the NOC, and I saw what we were capable of at a big tournament.

At the end of 2018 Tyson won the Region 10 AKC NOC Qualifier. At the 2019 AKC National Obedience Championship, Tyson won the Herding Group Saturday and on Sunday was Seventh Place Overall. Becoming the first and only Miniature American Shepherd to ever place at an NOC, and making me the youngest handler to place in the Top 10 at the NOC.

This year, in 2020, at the AKC National Obedience Championship, Tyson won the Herding Group for the second year in a row. On Sunday, in the final awards, he placed Second Runner Up at the NOC. This placement in the Top 4 makes me the youngest handler to be on the podium at the NOC, and makes him the only Miniature American Shepherd to place 2nd Runner Up.

I will continue to train and compete in AKC Obedience with my next dog, a Golden Retriever, Swift. This sport has taught me to work hard, preserve, and how to create a bond with your dog unlike any other. A special thank you to my friend and mentor Kori Bevis, and to my supportive family. Thank you AKC for everything you do to host these first class events, I look forward to competing at more in the future.