October 7, 2022

Episode 313: Interview with Junior Handler Jada Sawhney

In this episode (29:01)

In this episode, we talk with junior handler Jada Sawhney who just came back from the Border Collie Specialty and the Incredible Dog Challenge with podium finishes!

You Will Learn

  • How Jada got started in agility.
  • Why we chose Jada as a Bad Dog Agility Sponsored Athlete.
  • How the opportunities for juniors have changed over the last 15 years.
  • How the Border Collie Specialty and the Incredible Dog Challenge are structured.
  • Why Sarah and Esteban are agility boomers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_LUiuByyPA


(upbeat music) - Welcome to Bad Dog Agility, (dog barking) a podcast helping you reach all of your dog agility goals. Whether it's competing under the bright lights of the televised finals at Westminster, or successfully navigating a homemade course in your own backyard. We'll bring you training tips, interviews, and news about the great sport of dog agility. Are you ready? - I'm ready. - I'm ready. - I'm ready.

The show starts with your host, Jennifer, Esteban and Sarah. - I'm Jennifer - I'm Esteban. - And I'm Sarah. And this is episode 313. Today's podcast is brought to you by HitItBoard.com and the new Teeter TeachIt, an easy to use tool, that controls the amount of tip on your teeter. So you can introduce motion to your dog in a gradual way. Go to HitItBoard.com for the new Teeter

TeachIt and other training tools and toys. Use discount code BDA10 to get 10% off your order. That's HitItboard.com. Today we are excited to be joined by junior handler, Jada Soni. Welcome to the podcast Jada. - Hi. - Well we are really excited to have Jada on and for those of you who do not follow us on Facebook, we wanted to announce that Jada is actually our newest sponsored

athlete. We made that announcement on Facebook. Well, you know when it was 'cause it was your birthday. When was that? - February 23rd. - All right. February 23rd was like, we made the announcement on her birthday, on the day she turned 15. So when we were talking to her, she was 14 years old. Jennifer actually was our talent scout this particular time and said, you've gotta see this

girl run. And so we talked to her and her mother and we were really excited to be able to sponsor her and support her in her agility journey. So we wanted to talk a little bit about just you as a handler first. So tell us a little about like your history in agility. - So I got started in agility when I was five. I started through 4H dog

training with my golden retriever, Bentley. He was my first agility dog. And I kind of grew into the sport through rally and obedience. And then I did a little bit of confirmation and then I finally made my way into agility. And then when I found agility it kind of stuck. And I competed with Bentley, my golden retriever that I started with for a while. He's retired now, but

now I compete with my other dogs. I have another golden retriever I run and then border collies as well. - Excellent. And so, I think last year at the Invitational, I believe you won right? With your golden retriever? - Yes, I won with Tally my golden retriever. So he's my second golden and my second agility dog. And it was a really incredible experience because we went in through

the AKC Junior Invitational competition and we were planning on like doing well there obviously, but, and we made it through the Invitational into the regular adult invitational and it was just fun to be there and get to run and have the opportunity. And then we made finals and I was like, Oh, this is pretty cool. Like this is not what I was expecting at all going into the

competition. And then we ended up winning and it was kind of surreal, especially since I wasn't expecting even really to make the regular invitational. - Right. So, I think the way that works, I'm kind of reading between the lines here, since we're not juniors. - Yeah. - We don't know all of the rules. Jen may have remembered from her time long, long ago of being a junior, but

so, there's like a Junior Invitational event that happens the day before the regular AKC Agility Invitational. And then is it just the winner at each height goes on? - Yeah. So there's a standard round and a jumpers round and the combined results from that, from the dog, from each height advances to the AKC Invitational. - That's awesome. So is that like your first big win? - So I

won that, that was my third time actually winning the 24 inch height. I won it two times previously with Bentley and this was my first time winning it with Tally. He beat his older brother, (group laughing) but that was my first time winning it with Tally and it was fun to get to experience the event, especially with two different dogs. - Right. That's awesome. And so since then,

you know, since you kind of came on our radar, I see you everywhere, watching like your Facebook posts and your runs and I mean even, even the NQ runs, like you can see the talent, you can see the speed, you can see, you know, that you're doing amazing things in agility even if you know one bar falls or whatever. So your big events that we kind of watched

you at this year, the first one was EOJ, so you were able to go overseas and compete representing the United States. So tell us a little bit about like that experience. - It was a really cool experience. I went overseas with two of my young border collies, Zula, who's only two, and she was only able to compete by one month she was eligible. - Oh wow. - And

yeah, and then I competed also with Smudge who is a three year old border collie. And it was a really cool event just to experience all the different countries coming overseas or to Finland where the event was held and kind of celebrating agility, especially with junior handlers and kind of showcasing how all of these young handlers had incredible skills that were just as good as some of the

adult handlers as well. And it was really fun to experience all of that, especially with junior handlers. - And then how did you do at that event with your two? - So Smudge actually had some kind of heartbreaking rounds. Our individual jumper's round, she had the second fastest time, but unfortunately she had one bar and that was kind of a little heartbreaking to me at the time. But

I'm really proud of our performance, especially at our first international event. So they did really good still and I'm super excited to try out for all the world teams next year and get to have the experience again. - That's amazing. Yeah, it's like, and so you would have, I guess you're a junior handler until you turn 18? - Yeah. - So you have like, you have next summer

you'll be 16, the next summer you'll have 17. You have two more summers? - Actually I get three more because it's the age of January 1st of the calendar year. So I'll be able to do it one for my third, so my fourth year because I'll be 17 as of January 1st. - Wow. So Jen, what's your perspective, 'cause I know that you came up through the junior

handler program, you've competed internationally as a junior, right? Like at worlds- - Yeah. - Worlds and stuff like that. So, and I know that because of that or you know, partially because of that you are a huge supporter of juniors in general. So kind of what is your perspective on, on somebody like Jada, you know, up and coming 15 years old going to, you know, EOJ competing internationally

with the skills that she has? - Yeah, absolutely. I'm a huge advocate for all of the junior handler programs and all of the things that AKC offers because when I was a junior, none of that was around. So there was no EOJ, there was no Junior Invitational. All of that stuff has come on the radar since I was a junior and I'm so jealous of all amazing opportunities

but absolutely wanting to support it the best I can. As a kid, I was the first junior handler to make the world team and at that time there was no EO team, there was no EOJ, it was just the world team, right. The AWC team. And I made that team at 17. So as a junior in high school I was on that team and that year, actually another

junior made it too, ended up not being able to go, Katie made it that year. So I ended up being kind of the first and only one to go actually overseas, but we were competing with the adults and I remember it was like very intimidating. It was very intimidating. It still is actually to be honest. So the opportunity that the juniors have now to get to go overseas

and really just all of the opportunities, that are here in the states, I mean the Junior Invitational is such a phenomenal event. I've gone down, I've watched it, I've supported it, I've helped some of my students, who are juniors when they've gone, gone down and kind of coached and watched. So that was kind of some of my first exposure to Jada as a junior is I do follow

the juniors a lot, I kind of like to see what they're doing and having seen Jada win the event multiple years in a row and then of course last year winning it, the final invitational against all of the breeds and all of the adults on Sunday was definitely the point where I was like, okay, she's got not just the skills but the mental game, right? To be able

to go into that environment. And I think for so many kids, agility is just so natural and so easy. You see this fluid handling and it's that kind of innocence of just going out there and having fun with your dog without a lot of the mental aspect that we as adults often feel, whether it be through social media or the second dog, making sure it lives up to

what the first dog did. You know, kids kind of go out there and just go and have fun with their dog, which really is where we all started anyway. So it's really cool to see the juniors go out there and you know, I will do anything I can to support the juniors and that's why I think a big part of it for me was not only seeing Jada's

talent but coming to youth there. And that's why I'm going, okay, there's this really great junior and I wanna support the juniors, let's talk to her, let's see what's going on. So of course, along with you guys, have been following all of Jada's recent and past adventures and actually just got to spend last weekend with her at the Border Collie National and the Incredible Dog Challenge. So that

was kind of fun to spend some extra time together. - Oh what a segue. You just teed it right up 'cause we wanted to talk about that. But before we get to the Border Collie Specialty and the Incredible Dog challenge, I want to tell Jada and Jennifer, you're correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm not. Right? So you talked about like how intimidating it is running with the

adults. Do you not think that the adults are intimidated by Jada when she shows up and runs the way she runs, with the speed that she has and the skills that she has and the dogs, don't you think the adults are intimidated? I would say yes. - Absolutely. Absolutely. Oh yeah, for sure. - Yeah, for sure you're making waves there, but everybody I know is so happy to

see you do well too. Like, you know, the support that I see, you know, through Facebook and everything I think is really great. So the, so y'all just, like this past weekend, right? This past weekend, Yeah? This past weekend. Did the Border Collie Specialty immediately followed by the Incredible Dog Challenge- - Like the same weekend or in the Incredible Dog Challenge was- - How did it go? -

It was, so the Wednesday and Thursday, was the Border Collie Specialty and then the Friday was the practice day for Purina and Saturday was the competition for The Incredible Dog. - And was it all in the same city? - Yeah, so it was all at the Purina Farms, but the Border Collie Specialty was inside the building and the Incredible Dog Challenge was outside. - Oh, so this is

in St. Louis, right? - Yes. Well outside of it, yeah. - Gotcha. Okay. - Yeah, - It was really nice to just go to one location in one place and one set of hotels or in our case a Airbnb be there for the week. I can say that for me, I'm not sure that I would've done the Border Collie National if it wasn't the days right before Incredible

Dog Challenge. I knew I was going there, I was at Purina Farms and then I saw the premium and I was like, oh, well if I'm already going, let's go two days early and do the Border Collie Specialty. It was my first time ever doing the Border Collie Nationals and it was just nice that it was all right there. So I think there was a lot of convenience

that persuaded me to attending the event. - Yeah. So what's the format of the Border Collie Specialty? I know that both of y'all did really well. So kind of tell us like what the format is and what pieces of it you won. I know y'all shared some podiums. (Sarah laughing) - So the Border Collie National is put on by the parent club, the Border Collie Society of America

and the Agility days run like a normal AKC agility trial. So there's six classes offered each day. So they do the regular standard, the regular jumpers, fast, time to beat, Premier Jumpers and Premier Standard. So both days ran as a normal trial with six runs a day. What made it fun and what made it a little bit unique and where you saw maybe more posts and ribbons and

awards is that they did some of the scoring with some like specialty prizes and specialty awards. So similar to a lot of the parent clubs or the specialty clubs, they did do a high-end trial each day but then they also did a games champion. So you ran fast in time to beat both days. So you combined those four scores for a Games Champion and then they had like

a Reserve Games Champion and then they had a Premier Cup award, so they took your four premiere runs, so standard and jumpers from the first day, standard and jumpers from the second day and they combined your four premier runs and they did awards for that. And then they had on the second day they had what's called the Border Collie Classic. So they took your four regular runs, you're

just standard and jumpers and they combined your scores together and they had like a finals and the finals was time to beat style. So there was a maximum of 10 dogs per jump height that made the finals and then they did like a crowded around one ring time to beat, everybody cheering, winner take all with really cool prizes and ribbons for all of the different awards. I thought

it made it a little bit more fun than just a normal trial with your first through fourth placement and it was nice that there was so much variety. So there was a games winner and then there's a Premier Cup and then there was the regular and then there was a high end trial. So they did a phenomenal job. Amber McCune was the co-chair this year, we've had her

on the podcast, she's incredible and she really took over and just came in and made big waves with it and did an incredible job with it. So it was a really, really fun event. I'll let Jada kind of give her two cents on the event. Was it your first time attending Jada? - Yeah, it was my first time and I kinda, I was like oh, it's right before

Purina Incredible Dog Challenge and it kind of made it worth it even more to go out there. - Yeah, it was my first event too, so I'll let you share your experience and your accomplishments. - Yeah, so I also thought Amber did an incredible job with all the ribbons and prizes of the event and it ran really similar to like an average AKC trial but kind of like

glammed up with all the prizes and awards. I know that Zula, she won the games champion overall and it was kind of interesting 'cause I don't really enter fast that much to us. So she got her open fast title actually there. So we were kind of still new at like the fast type stuff but she got 80 points over both the days and she also ran clean and

time to beat over the both days. So that contributed to our Games Champion win and the ribbon was very, very pretty. (Jada and Sarah laughing) - Awesome. And then Jen, so it was so sorry Jada. So who did you take to the Border Collie Specialty? Both. So it's Zula and Smudge or your two border collies? - Oh yeah, so I was supposed to take Zula and Smudge but

Florida unfortunately had the big hurricane Ian. - Yeah. - And that kinda threw a wreck in our plans. So I was supposed to fly out with my mom but unfortunately I couldn't because of the hurricane and my mom had to stay behind. So I actually traveled just with Zula and then I attended the event and kind of stayed with some friends and kind of, the amazing agility community

really helped support me as a junior handler and still gave me the opportunity to go to these events, which is one of the main things I love about the agility community is the connections and support of it all. - That's amazing. Jennifer, how did it go? - So it was my first Border Collie National. I wasn't really sure what to expect. I took both High Five and Surprise

and they were incredible. I had a great weekend, I don't know where it all came from. My girls haven't really been doing a lot of showing lately and on the first day, High Five was double clear in the regular classes and double clear in premiere and ended up winning high in trial. So they do high in trial based on the highest yards per second for your double Q,

so it doesn't involve premiere or the games. So that was absolutely incredible. I did not know, I did not stay for awards on the first day. So the next day I came in and I was like walking to the restroom and someone was like, congratulations. And I was like thanks and did not know what they were talking about, just kept walking and then finally they came up and

told me and I was just shocked. So that was really exciting on the first day. And then on the second day, Surprise, my youngest border collie, who rarely double Qs, decided that she would double Q and she double Q'd and had two phenomenal runs and won both of her classes and ended up getting high in trial on the second day. And over the two days she was three

for four in premieres, so she made it into, or she won the Premier Cup. So she only, her only fault was one refusal over four Premier classes. So she won the Premier Cup and then she made the finals for the Border Collie Classic and then ended up winning that as well. So she won her regular classes, high in trial, Premier Cup and the Border Collie Classic, which was

awesome. I attempted to do games but I can't do math and could not get 80 points in fast. So next time I'll be taking lessons from Jada on how to, how to get 80 points and fast. (Sarah laughing) - Nice. Excellent. So that's amazing. I'll have to get the picture of you guys. Was it this or was it Incredible Dog Challenge, where y'all are on the podium together?

- Incredible dog challenge. - Okay, well I'll need that picture for the show notes. So somebody will have to get that to me after the podcast. And so then Incredible Dog Challenge. Are y'all allowed to talk about that? (Sarah laughing) - All right, so - We're gonna say yes, we're gonna say yes. So for our audience, the Incredible Dog Challenge is basically a made for TV event, right?

Like you get to practice the course and then you get to run it with the cameras on, right? So it's not like, I think that's the only event like that that I know of in all of the agility. - What do you mean? You're not just doing a walkthrough, you're like- - Right. Not just a walkthrough. Like you run it with your dog on the practice day and

then the next day they tape it and the next day is what counts. So you could be first place on practice day, but it doesn't matter. And then you could drop a bar when they're recording and you wouldn't win. You know. - Do you have a given amount of time? How does the practice work? - They kind of tell you to like be reasonable. But that was loose.

That was loose because you can take a toy out there. So there were some people that, like the dog would miss a dogwalk and they would go back to the beginning or a dog would knock a bar and they'd stop, and I mean there were a couple that were a bit out there for some time. Not everybody ran their practice rounds clean like Jada. (group laughing) - So

not everybody just went out there and zipped around their clean practice rounds. So they kind of wanted you to keep the flow going, but there's no restriction. And then on the real day of filming, not only have you already practiced the exact course twice, but you get to run it twice and they take your best score. So even on the competition day you get to run it twice

and if you have faults on the first run, it's okay, you can run it a second time, or vice versa, if you run it clean and then fault they take your best score. So it is definitely a made for television event but it's still really fun. And the results, I don't find to be that impacted by the practice day, like people still have mistakes on the actual day.

- Right. - It's not like we trained and then everybody goes out and runs double clear. I don't know that there was anybody in any of the heights that ran double clear on the actual day, 'cause we got to run it twice. I don't think there was, I know there was no mediums which was our height, and I don't think there was any of the other heights where

people ran double clear even after training, 'cause it's still the nerves and the crowd and the cheering and the PA and the announcing and the dogs. - The bars happen so. Yeah, contacts happen. - Exactly. - Yeah, the mindset going into it is kind of different than other events because you really are just trying to get the best handling moves down. Especially since, you know, going into it

you get to run it so many times, it's really like strategizing like, oh should I do the backside or should I do the threadle or like, should I do wrap to the left, wrap to the right? It's more of like figuring out what works best for your dog and what's gonna look best on the competition day. So it can be kind of different than a lot of other

competitions, just like the mental aspect of it all. But it's still a really fun event and they put on the event so well and I definitely enjoyed being there. - So was that your first Incredible Dog Challenge Jada? - So I went to the regional event in Atlanta in April and we won there the medium dog agility and then we got invited to the national championships for the

agility and the 30 weaves and then Zula won the 30 weaves and the medium agility at the national championships. - Wow, congratulations. - Awesome. Do they do the 60 weaves challenge or am I like a boomer? - Yeah, it's 30 weaves and back. So they do 30 weaves to a tunnel and then 30 weaves back. - Oh, okay, okay. But they don't do like 60 in a row

straight shot. Did they ever do that? Am I? Yeah, I don't remember either. I think I'm showing my age here. That is super awesome. - Yeah. Congratulations. So- - Wait, so is that gonna be on TV then? - Yes. - Right. You said it was made for television. So what network is airing this and when is it going to be aired? Does anybody have an idea? - It's

a syndicated television show, so my understanding is they produce it. So Carson Productions produces it and then they take it and try to sell it to different networks. So it can be on different networks and different cities at different times. - That is interesting. - So it's not a production by Fox or NBC, it is a production. - Wow. - Right. It is a production by Carson Productions

and then syndicated out. So it usually will be listed. They said that they do about a month of post production voiceovers and editing and then they'll be able to give us a better idea of what station it's on, when in different cities. And often they split it up, so like they'll do small dogs on one day with like the fly ball and the dock diving and they'll do

large dogs on a different airing with the Jack Russell racing or whatever. So they'll do a a kind of mix and match of things. - Jen is so knowledgeable, (Sarah laughing) she's also been to this event a whole bunch. So when y'all hear you let us know and we'll make sure that we put it on Facebook and email, you know, everybody and let them know that it's coming

up. All right, well, before we close the podcast, Jada, tell us a little bit about how you juggle agility and like being a 15 year old. Like what do you do for school? How do you make all of that happen? - So I actually do online school through my school, Florida Virtual School. And it's very flexible and it allows me to work on the road and travel and

do work in the car or in the hotel rooms and even at the events sometimes while I'm waiting on the side. And it really just allows me to have the flexibility to manage it, but it can also be hard like balancing all of the school and the events and traveling. So I think it really just takes a lot of dedication to be able to balance it all, but

I am usually able to balance it pretty smoothly. - That's awesome. I love that. I love it. I love it that we have those options. Yay. 2022. (Sarah laughing) - Yay for technology. I love it. All right, well thank you so much for joining the podcast. Really excited to get to talk to you on the podcast and kind of reintroduce you to everybody. And we are all going

to keep our eyes on you, but not in a pressure way, just in a, you know, we like watching you succeed and it's very exciting and we all love cheering for juniors sort of way, so congratulations. - Thank you. - Oh, upcoming events. Where can we find, let's find out where both of you are going to be for the winter. - So I'm going to be attending the

UKI US Open in Jacksonville in November. And then I will also be attending the AKC European Open tryouts in the first weekend of December. That's in Pennsylvania. And then I'll finish out the year at the AKC Junior Invitational in Orlando, Florida. And that's also in December. - That's awesome. And two of those are gonna be close to you. Where's EO tryouts this year? - That's in Pennsylvania. -

Pennsylvania you said? Okay. All right. And then the other two are in out there in Florida. Okay. Oh, that's awesome. - And so the US Open and EO tryouts, that will be the, Your border collies, both of them? - Yeah, so for the US Open, I'll also be taking my golden retrieve Tally and the border collie/whip it mix that I run Banshee. And then I'll also be having

my border collies there, Zula and Smudge, and they will be doing the World Agility Open, Team USA tryouts. And that's at the US Open. And then Zula and Smudge will be attending the European Open Tryouts as well. - So you're taking a page out of Jennifer's playbook and going with four dogs to the US Open. (Jada laughing) - She's got the energy though. She's got the energy to

manage it. And then the AKC Invitational would be your golden? - Yes, and I will also be running my border collies there as well, because- - Oh Okay. - AKC, Junior Invitational- - Awesome. - Open to all juniors. - Oh, how many, So how many dogs can get in from the junior side? - Just one per height, right? - Yeah. So it's just one dog per height. -

So do you have two different heights or are they competing against each other? - I have dogs in the 24 inch, the 20 inch and the 16 inch. - Yes. (Sarah laughing) - That's the way to do it. Spread 'em out. Excellent. And Jennifer, what do you, what do you have planned? - I will not be doing the US Open this year, but I am doing European Open

Team tryouts in early December. That's in Pennsylvania. And then I am also attending the Invitational but not the junior part. (group laughing) - I'm past that. I'll just be attending the regular invitational as Bee was one of the top five shelties this year and this'll be my first time taking one my own dogs. - Oh Congratulations. - Yes, I'm very excited. I've gone and run other people's dogs,

but this'll be my first time with my own dogs, so I'm very excited. - It's quite an accomplishment given the breed. - Yes, we worked hard, did a great job, especially balancing everything else that we were doing, being on the EO team and doing all the other activities that we had going on. So it was definitely a project, but luckily we were successful and squeaked in at number

five. - Nice. Nice. - Perfect. Excellent. All right, well that sounds great. We will keep an eye on both of y'all at those events. And that's it for this week's podcast. We like to thank our sponsor, HitItBoard.com. Happy training. (upbeat music) - Thank you for listening to Bad Dog Agility. We hope you enjoyed today's episode. For more information, updates and links to all our socials, just check out

our website, www.baddogagility.com. If you haven't already signed up for our email subscription, we would love to have you join the BDA community. Until next time, take care. (upbeat music)

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