When the Waddle family discovered a lost, starving puppy on their doorstep 7 years ago, no one could have guessed that same dog would one day be a champion show dog. However, with the tutuledge of her beloved master and friend Logan Waddle, Georgia, who falls into the Plat Hound catagory, grew to become one of the top ranking dogs in local and national dog shows.
When asked how he became interested in showing dogs, Logan Waddle, a 17 year-old senior at Whitko High School, and his mother, Cindy Waddle exchanged grins.
“My grandma kind of … I don’t want to say forced me …”
“Encouraged,” offered his mother with a chuckle.
“She ‘encouraged’ me to train her in obedience in Silver Lake. Once we got up there we were going every week. I started training Georgia in fall of 2006 after she came to us. I was a fifth grader at the time,” said Logan.
His training didn’t end there, however, nor did his influences in the dog training world. Shortly after beginning his training with Georgia, Waddle met Deb Hohman, a kindergarten teacher at Eisenhower Elementary school in Warsaw. Hohman, who also was training her dogs in higher level courses, encouraged Waddle to continue his training with Georgia and enter the show ring. Waddle stated that during his first shows, Hohman would follow him through the course and offer Georgia’s perspective on his instructions in the arena.
“The handler gets to walk through the course before they have their dog so that they can familiarize themselves with the course,” explained Waddle. “At my first few courses she would walk through for me and she would act like she was a dog and show me where the dog was going to go from the way I was moving. She helped me fix my patterns and helped me learn different kinds of patterns.”
Waddle credits Hohman with much of his success and interest in dog training. After working with Hohman, the following spring Waddle and his grandmother began pursuing dog showing opportunities through the Kosciusko County 4-H Fair. However, Waddle does admit that initially there were some difficulties getting Georgia to participate.
“We started 4-H and the first few weeks Georgia just laid on her back. She was a timid dog. She didn’t like new things. We’d sit there while everyone else did training,” said Waddle with a laugh. “One day she just decided to train and go with me. Amy Craft worked with me and helped me to build Georgia’s confidence. We were champion of our class in agility. That was kind of what got me hooked on 4-H.”
After tasting victory at 4-H, Waddle continued his pursuit of dog training. This pursuit lead him to try his hand, and Georgia’s paw, at fly ball. Fly ball is an event similar to a relay race. Dogs are placed on teams of five or six and are then asked to race across 4 jumps in a straight line, hit a spring board that reveals a ball and then carry the ball back across the four jumps in a straight line. Once the dog returns with the ball the next dog races off until the 4 dogs participating in the heat have finished.
“Once a week we go to Elkhart to train in what they call fly ball,” said Waddle. “There are up to six dogs on a team but only four can run in one heat. One race is the best 3 out of 5 heats. Its like a relay race and a drag race I guess. They have drag lights and dogs race versus another team. The fastest team wins.”
Waddle admitted that though he thought the training seemed easy at first glance, the training involved with the event proved more difficult than anticipated. Waddle stated that he trained both Georgia and his grandmother’s pup Digger, a Maltese Shitzu, to participate in fly ball. Though the timid Georgia does participate well, Waddle reluctantly admits Digger is the faster of the two pups.
“Fly Ball looks easy the first time you see in on a video. It looks like it would be easy to teach your dogs; running in a straight line, grab a ball and come back. But it’s so much harder than it looks. It took us 8 months to a year to get a whole team ready. Georgia is very timid with things – she is an atypical fly ball dog. Most fly ball dogs are, what I call, kind of psycho. Most of the dogs bark and bark and bark – I don’t see how they can breath. Georgia never barks and she isn’t very fast. Digger is faster than Georgia, I don’t like to admit it,” said Waddle with an exaggerated sigh. “There is always a competition between Digger and Georgia. I’d rather Georgia win but Digger, with my training, has started to beat Georgia.”
Waddle’s training with both Digger and Georgia has lead him to medal both locally and on national levels. Locally, Waddle and his pups secured numerous championship awards during this year’s 4-H Fair events. Georgia took the total dog award (highest total points across all events), reserve champion in obedience, first place in her division in obedience, grand champion in agility, first place in the excellence category in agility and first place in the 3B division of rally obedience.
Digger won first place in the 4A division of obedience, second place and reserve champion in agility, reserve champion in rally obedience and second place in the 3A division of rally obedience. Waddle’s dogs were not the only ones to medal during the event this year. Waddle also earned reserve champion in showmanship and second place in the top dog test. He, Georgia and Digger will be attending the State Fair on Saturday, Aug. 17, to Sunday, Aug. 18, to compete on the state level where Georgia has won a State Fair championship in the past.
Outside of 4-H, Waddle has competed in both regional and national competitions for both his dog showing and fly ball interest. Waddle attends six different agility shows and three full weekends of fly ball tournaments throughout the year. In addition, Waddle has competed in the National Purina Premier Dog Show where he placed second in the nation for juniors with Georgia. Waddle stated that Georgia would have won first place with a completely perfect run but was 4 seconds behind the first place contestant. The show only invites the top ten junior showmen in their respective region. Region five, which Indiana falls into, includes Indiana, Illinois, Florida, Ohio and Michigan.
When asked how others interested in dog training might be able to get into the craft, Waddle, who is the president of the Kosciusko County K-9’s club, offered that anyone interested in pursuing their dreams of dog training feel free to contact him at his email address or join the KCK9’s 4-H group. Waddle stated the group meets every third Monday of the month at the Kosciusko County Extension Office in Warsaw.
When asked what advice he’d give to those just starting out Waddle stated, “Do it. I’ve had friends that say their dogs might be good at it but then say, well my dogs can’t be as good as the other dogs out there. A friend of mine has been thinking about doing 4-H for the past 7 years. Just do it. If you train your dog, it will be good. You never know how good your dog is going to be unless you train it. There are dogs that are in 4-H that could be phenomenal fly ball dogs compared to Georgia in terms of speed. But a lot of people don’t have time, or don’t know about the opportunity. You just have to go out there and try it. Don’t get discouraged. Its really easy to get discouraged. Your first or second year you might not do any good – that’s just part of it.”