by Kate Gallagher, Age 17, Fargo, North Dakota
The following is a story submitted for the DWAA’s Young Writers on the Web program.
I have been competing in dog agility events as a junior handler through the American Kennel Club for almost seven years now. In these seven years, I have learned and accomplished many things. Working with my dogs, competing and showing, and meeting new people have given me valuable life lessons that I would not have learned anywhere else. I have trained my All-American Dog June since I was 10 years old. Just last year, I brought home my Mini American Shepherd named Blu.
June has always been a very calm and consistent dog, which was perfect for me as I learned and grew up with dog agility. Blu could not be more different. She is loud, demanding, fast, and challenges me as a handler in just about every way.
Working with both of my dogs in shows and competitions has helped me learn how to deal with my anxiety, it has taught me how to be more patient, and taught me how to work and communicate in an environment dominated by adults.
I am the only high-school student who trains and competes with dogs at my club, as well as in my town. The only time I have seen and met other handlers my age is when I go to the AKC Junior Agility Competition (JAC) in December. However, being the only kid training dogs has given me many mentors and talented people to look up to. Everyone at my club has always supported me so much.
Over the years people at my school found out about my dogs and it has created a lot of interest in agility. People who would have never otherwise known about the sport have now been following my Instagram and Facebook pages for years. They are excited about my newest video and updates. Kids and staff at my school, and family and friends tuned in to the akc.tv livestream as I competed at the AKC JAC for the last time. Without my participation in the American Kennel Club Companion Events I would not be the person I am today.
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