Saturday, December 31

Reflections

Today officially marks my last day as a UKC Junior Handler.

I've been reflecting back on my journey as a UKC Junior... There have been so many firsts. My first UKC show in 2009. Almost 8 years ago, Angel earned our first UKC title: UAGI. I competed at my first UKC Premier Invitational in 2010. At some point over the years I earned my first High in Trial in Rally, Obedience, and Agility, and just this November, my first High Combined.
Our first High Combined - along with our first Utility leg - under Anna Arndt at POTC this November. The next day he repeated the performance for his second leg and our second High Combined.

Since I started on this journey, Angel and Jasper have been amazing for me, earning me titles I used to only dream of, including our Agility UACH and UACHX; our Rally UROC, UROG, and URX2; and our Obedience UCD, UCDX, and, most recently (and most exciting, in my opinion!), our UUD.
Jasper's final leg for his UUD title under Vicki Sheets. We traveled to Ohio (Fort Hamilton Dog Training Club) this December to try to finish it up yet this year! I am so honored to be able to say that I titled a dog in Utility as a Junior Handler!

The UKC Premier Invitationals are always tons of fun as well. Local shows don't often have other Juniors, so having lots of Juniors competing together is fun for all of us! Since my first Premier in 2010, it's been great to see the number of Juniors competing and the quality of their training both increasing. The competition makes it challenging and extremely fun. As many of you know, Obedience has always been my favorite event, and getting to compete with other great young trainers has been awesome. I remember striving for multiple years trying to get that elusive 1st Place in Obedience, and then being so excited to win it three years in a row. I remember being almost equally as excited last year when two of my friends, awesome trainers and consistently strong competition, beat me (Ryan Klamm taking 1st with Bandit, Emily Wagoner taking 2nd with Peeta, and Jasper and I coming in 3rd). Of course, I still look forward to my one final hurrah as a UKC Junior - my last Premier Invitational next summer, the culmination of the points we racked up this year.
Arguably my most successful Premier event with Angel and Jasper last year. 

I was also happy that Gideon got to join in the fun of UKC during my final year as a Junior, competing in two Agility trials at POTC's November trials and earning a 199 and a 198 and his first two legs towards his UAG1 title. The following video is of his first run.


In my reflections, one thing was constant throughout all of my memories: I was always surrounded by a community of people supporting me. I'm not sure I ever really told you all how important that was for me, and how grateful I am for it. As I look back, I realize that I cannot say THANK YOU enough to all of you, but I can try.

First and foremost, I thank God for this journey. I know I've often failed to give Him all of the glory, but it is all His. It is only by His grace that I am where I am today - He gave me the passion, the ability to pursue it, and the people to help me along the way. Among those many people, three deserve special recognition: Mom, who got to be my chaperone until I could drive (and sometimes even after), who gave up things she might have rather been doing in order to do dog stuff with me (including this month's literally last-minute trip to Ohio despite the threat of a potential snowstorm), and who has simply been there for me and understood me; Dad, who has supported me despite not sharing my love for dogs, and who has loved me even when he doesn't quite understand it all; and "Grandma" Judy Carter, who has been mentoring me in Obedience training since the beginning, has stuck by me through ups and downs, mistakes and improvements, setbacks and progress, disappointments and successes, and has taught me most of what I know. Thank you so much. ♡

I know there are so many others who have helped me on this journey, and I could not begin to list all of you because I know I would forget so many important people - but you know who you are.

If you've ever said to me "Good luck" or "You'll get it next time" or "Congratulations," thank you. If you ever beat me and made me want to work harder and train better, thank you. If you ever lost to me and modeled how to be gracious and love your dog even if the results weren't what you might have prefered, thank you. If you've ever taught me in a class or given me training tips, big or small, thank you. If you've ever trusted me by coming to me for training advice, thank you. If you've ever challenged me or encouraged me, thank you. If you've ever shared with me stories of your own training journey or let me hang out with your dog, thank you. If you supported me back in the days when Angel had some reactivity issues and I didn't even know what "reactive" meant and thought my dog was just a "bad dog," thank you. If you gave sympathy and suggestions when Jasper became stressed at shows and started breaking down with ring nerves, thank you. If you were supportive when Gideon started going though the issues commonly associated with the age and breed, thank you. If you saw any of these struggles and pointed out progress when I wondered if anyone even noticed, or when even I didn't notice it, thank you. Your time and love and support means more to me than I could ever express. I couldn't have done it without you. You know the old saying, "It takes a village to raise a child"? Well, it takes a community to raise a dog trainer, too.

As I close the "Junior Handler" chapter of my story, I know that it was only the first chapter, and I cannot wait to see what the rest of the story brings.

Have a Happy New Year, everyone!
~ Danielle


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