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Handling with care

Wairarapa teen Reegan Tock will be dressed to thrill at the Junior Dog Handler [JDH] national championships in Auckland, when he competes for the title of best in New Zealand.

The Year 11 Kuranui College student placed first in a JDH regional heat in New Plymouth last month, qualifying him for the national competition in October.

Reegan was one of the young stars of the TVNZ reality show Junior Dog Handlers. Dressed in a fetching purple jacket, he was filmed over several episodes last year but missed out on a place at the 2022 nationals.

So, to win a regional heat early in 2023 was a huge improvement for him and his dog on the day – three-year-old American Staffordshire terrier, Sadie.

“It was completely unexpected, as I went from coming last in previous JDH heats to first,” Reegan said.

Showing and handling dogs is very visual, so the 15-year-old will ensure he looks sharp in the Auckland ring, competing against handlers aged 12-18 from around New Zealand.

He enjoys “dressing fancy” at shows and wears a suit jacket, tie and good shoes. Most JDH competitors are girls – just two boys competed during the 2022 heats. A handler’s turnout is worth five points from a possible 100, which could be the difference between first and second place.

“I’ll probably buy a new outfit for the nationals but am going to wait until closer to October, as I’m still growing,” Reegan said.

He also travels to dog breed showing events with his stepmother, Amanda Lucas, and their American Staffordshire terriers [nicknamed AmStaffs]. He won “a few” best puppy prizes, which led to the stand-alone junior handling competitions.

“My stepmother Amanda has shown dogs from a young age, and my dad, my brother and I would watch. I was about 10 years old when I started doing it myself,” Reegan said.

He chose showing dogs over agility and obedience competitions because: “I grew up with showing – which is all about how the dog looks, genetics, that sort of thing.

“Tips I’ve been given for JDH are to look at the judges occasionally, use the entire ring and ‘stack’ your dog without wasting too much time,” he said.

“Stacking” is when the dog is displayed in a positive posture, showing off their best features, such as a well-muscled neck or shoulders, with square legs and a raised tail.

Along with Sadie, Reegan’s regular show dog is AmStaff Riley, also three years old, one of 11 dogs at the family’s rural Carterton home.

In JDH competitions, teenagers and dogs move around the ring as a group for the first round. The second round requires each pair to complete moves requested by the judges.

The third round is the most nerve-wracking, Reegan said, as handlers are given a “swap dog”, to further show their skills with an animal they have never met.

“We get about two minutes with the swap dog’s owner, who tells you how they stack, how they run, and so on, and you have to try and remember. I once got a little Dachshund and was quite afraid I was going to step on him.”

At the New Plymouth heat last month, Reegan’s swap dog was a standard poodle named Onyx. “He was amazing and I’d love to work with him again.”

The national winner goes on to represent New Zealand at the famous Crufts dog show in the UK, but they don’t take their own dogs – they must compete with dogs given to them at Crufts, a true test of handling skills.

At home, Reegan is a keen student glider and would like a career in an aviation-related field. He has stayed busy over the April school holidays working as an assistant to a tradesman friend.

“Dog handling is a great thing to do if you love animals,” he said. The Year 11 Kuranui College student placed first in a JDH regional heat in New Plymouth last month, qualifying him for the national competition in October.

Reegan was one of the young stars of the TVNZ reality show Junior Dog Handlers. Dressed in a fetching purple jacket, he was filmed over several episodes last year but missed out on a place at the 2022 nationals.

So, to win a regional heat early in 2023 was a huge improvement for him and his dog on the day – three-year-old American Staffordshire terrier, Sadie.

“It was completely unexpected, as I went from coming last in previous JDH heats to first,” Reegan said.

Showing and handling dogs is very visual, so the 15-year-old will ensure he looks sharp in the Auckland ring, competing against handlers aged 12-18 from around New Zealand.

He enjoys “dressing fancy” at shows and wears a suit jacket, tie and good shoes. Most JDH competitors are girls – just two boys competed during the 2022 heats. A handler’s turnout is worth five points from a possible 100, which could be the difference between first and second place.

“I’ll probably buy a new outfit for the nationals but am going to wait until closer to October, as I’m still growing,” Reegan said.

He also travels to dog breed showing events with his stepmother, Amanda Lucas, and their American Staffordshire terriers [nicknamed AmStaffs]. He won “a few” best puppy prizes, which led to the stand-alone junior handling competitions.

“My stepmother Amanda has shown dogs from a young age, and my dad, my brother and I would watch. I was about 10 years old when I started doing it myself,” Reegan said.

He chose showing dogs over agility and obedience competitions because: “I grew up with showing – which is all about how the dog looks, genetics, that sort of thing.

“Tips I’ve been given for JDH are to look at the judges occasionally, use the entire ring and ‘stack’ your dog without wasting too much time,” he said.

“Stacking” is when the dog is displayed in a positive posture, showing off their best features, such as a well-muscled neck or shoulders, with square legs and a raised tail.

Along with Sadie, Reegan’s regular show dog is AmStaff Riley, also three years old, one of 11 dogs at the family’s rural Carterton home.

In JDH competitions, teenagers and dogs move around the ring as a group for the first round. The second round requires each pair to complete moves requested by the judges.

The third round is the most nerve-wracking, Reegan said, as handlers are given a “swap dog”, to further show their skills with an animal they have never met.

“We get about two minutes with the swap dog’s owner, who tells you how they stack, how they run, and so on, and you have to try and remember. I once got a little Dachshund and was quite afraid I was going to step on him.”

At the New Plymouth heat last month, Reegan’s swap dog was a standard poodle named Onyx. “He was amazing and I’d love to work with him again.”

The national winner goes on to represent New Zealand at the famous Crufts dog show in the UK, but they don’t take their own dogs – they must compete with dogs given to them at Crufts, a true test of handling skills.

At home, Reegan is a keen student glider and would like a career in an aviation-related field. He has stayed busy over the April school holidays working as an assistant to a tradesman friend.

“Dog handling is a great thing to do if you love animals,” he said. The Year 11 Kuranui College student placed first in a JDH regional heat in New Plymouth last month, qualifying him for the national competition in October.

Reegan was one of the young stars of the TVNZ reality show Junior Dog Handlers. Dressed in a fetching purple jacket, he was filmed over several episodes last year but missed out on a place at the 2022 nationals.

So, to win a regional heat early in 2023 was a huge improvement for him and his dog on the day – three-year-old American Staffordshire terrier, Sadie.

“It was completely unexpected, as I went from coming last in previous JDH heats to first,” Reegan said.

Showing and handling dogs is very visual, so the 15-year-old will ensure he looks sharp in the Auckland ring, competing against handlers aged 12-18 from around New Zealand.

He enjoys “dressing fancy” at shows and wears a suit jacket, tie and good shoes. Most JDH competitors are girls – just two boys competed during the 2022 heats. A handler’s turnout is worth five points from a possible 100, which could be the difference between first and second place.

“I’ll probably buy a new outfit for the nationals but am going to wait until closer to October, as I’m still growing,” Reegan said.

He also travels to dog breed showing events with his stepmother, Amanda Lucas, and their American Staffordshire terriers [nicknamed AmStaffs]. He won “a few” best puppy prizes, which led to the stand-alone junior handling competitions.

“My stepmother Amanda has shown dogs from a young age, and my dad, my brother and I would watch. I was about 10 years old when I started doing it myself,” Reegan said.

He chose showing dogs over agility and obedience competitions because: “I grew up with showing – which is all about how the dog looks, genetics, that sort of thing.

“Tips I’ve been given for JDH are to look at the judges occasionally, use the entire ring and ‘stack’ your dog without wasting too much time,” he said.

“Stacking” is when the dog is displayed in a positive posture, showing off their best features, such as a well-muscled neck or shoulders, with square legs and a raised tail.

Along with Sadie, Reegan’s regular show dog is AmStaff Riley, also three years old, one of 11 dogs at the family’s rural Carterton home.

In JDH competitions, teenagers and dogs move around the ring as a group for the first round. The second round requires each pair to complete moves requested by the judges.

The third round is the most nerve-wracking, Reegan said, as handlers are given a “swap dog”, to further show their skills with an animal they have never met.

“We get about two minutes with the swap dog’s owner, who tells you how they stack, how they run, and so on, and you have to try and remember. I once got a little Dachshund and was quite afraid I was going to step on him.”

At the New Plymouth heat last month, Reegan’s swap dog was a standard poodle named Onyx. “He was amazing and I’d love to work with him again.”

The national winner goes on to represent New Zealand at the famous Crufts dog show in the UK, but they don’t take their own dogs – they must compete with dogs given to them at Crufts, a true test of handling skills.

At home, Reegan is a keen student glider and would like a career in an aviation-related field. He has stayed busy over the April school holidays working as an assistant to a tradesman friend.

“Dog handling is a great thing to do if you love animals,” he said. The Year 11 Kuranui College student placed first in a JDH regional heat in New Plymouth last month, qualifying him for the national competition in October.

Reegan was one of the young stars of the TVNZ reality show Junior Dog Handlers. Dressed in a fetching purple jacket, he was filmed over several episodes last year but missed out on a place at the 2022 nationals.

So, to win a regional heat early in 2023 was a huge improvement for him and his dog on the day – three-year-old American Staffordshire terrier, Sadie.

“It was completely unexpected, as I went from coming last in previous JDH heats to first,” Reegan said.

Showing and handling dogs is very visual, so the 15-year-old will ensure he looks sharp in the Auckland ring, competing against handlers aged 12-18 from around New Zealand.

He enjoys “dressing fancy” at shows and wears a suit jacket, tie and good shoes. Most JDH competitors are girls – just two boys competed during the 2022 heats. A handler’s turnout is worth five points from a possible 100, which could be the difference between first and second place.

“I’ll probably buy a new outfit for the nationals but am going to wait until closer to October, as I’m still growing,” Reegan said.

He also travels to dog breed showing events with his stepmother, Amanda Lucas, and their American Staffordshire terriers [nicknamed AmStaffs]. He won “a few” best puppy prizes, which led to the stand-alone junior handling competitions.

“My stepmother Amanda has shown dogs from a young age, and my dad, my brother and I would watch. I was about 10 years old when I started doing it myself,” Reegan said.

He chose showing dogs over agility and obedience competitions because: “I grew up with showing – which is all about how the dog looks, genetics, that sort of thing.

“Tips I’ve been given for JDH are to look at the judges occasionally, use the entire ring and ‘stack’ your dog without wasting too much time,” he said.

“Stacking” is when the dog is displayed in a positive posture, showing off their best features, such as a well-muscled neck or shoulders, with square legs and a raised tail.

Along with Sadie, Reegan’s regular show dog is AmStaff Riley, also three years old, one of 11 dogs at the family’s rural Carterton home.

In JDH competitions, teenagers and dogs move around the ring as a group for the first round. The second round requires each pair to complete moves requested by the judges.

The third round is the most nerve-wracking, Reegan said, as handlers are given a “swap dog”, to further show their skills with an animal they have never met.

“We get about two minutes with the swap dog’s owner, who tells you how they stack, how they run, and so on, and you have to try and remember. I once got a little Dachshund and was quite afraid I was going to step on him.”

At the New Plymouth heat last month, Reegan’s swap dog was a standard poodle named Onyx. “He was amazing and I’d love to work with him again.”

The national winner goes on to represent New Zealand at the famous Crufts dog show in the UK, but they don’t take their own dogs – they must compete with dogs given to them at Crufts, a true test of handling skills.

At home, Reegan is a keen student glider and would like a career in an aviation-related field. He has stayed busy over the April school holidays working as an assistant to a tradesman friend.

“Dog handling is a great thing to do if you love animals,” he said.

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