Dog training

Hartlage pursues the love of his life for dog training | Wednesday’s wife

When Kayla Hartlage was a child, she spent time with pencil in hand, drawing different breeds of dogs using photos from a canine encyclopedia as a point of reference.

Often times, she would find herself glued to the TV when dog shows were on and cheering in front of videos of canine agility teams, hoping that one day she could train her own dogs and compete.

By the time she was in fourth grade, Hartlage, a resident of Elizabethtown, was teaching her family’s Pomeranian cocoa stuff she would read in the library. The following summer, she participated in her first dog show at the Meade County Fair.

Earlier this month, Hartlage Australian Shepherd Rhyme was named Best in Show Bred by the exhibitor at the Bluegrass Classic Cluster Dog Show in Lexington, a moment of affirmation after years of hard work.

“Rhyme is the very first puppy that I have kept from a litter and raised from day one, it’s really special to see everything we do together,” said Hartlage. “I always think of holding her in my hands like a tiny puppy. I cried completely when the judge pointed the finger at us for the win.

Hartlage has been training his own dogs for six years, all of whom are Australian Shepherds. She said her interest flared while taking obedience classes at Bella’s K9 Academy in Elizabethtown. She also started taking agility classes with Agility Cues for You in Brooks, Ky. Three years ago.

“What I love most about training my dogs is the relationship I can build with each of them,” she said. “My dogs are all very bonded to me and I attribute that to all the hours we spent working and playing together.”

So far Hartlage has bred five litters of Australian Shepherds. Three years ago she founded a regional affiliate club for the Australian Shepherd Club of America. She is president of the club, which organizes events in communities such as Elizabethtown, Horse Cave and Brooks.

Hartlage said she enjoys working with Australian Shepherds because of their versatility

“I wanted a dog who would love a lot of activity, from hiking to agility training, but I also wanted a dog that I could cuddle with on the couch,” she said.

Hartlage is also a member of the Mid-Kentucky Kennel Club, an all-breed member club of the American Kennel Club that hosts a wide variety of dog competitions throughout the region. She has served as club secretary for the past three years and is also president of trophies.

Through her role as club trophy chair, Hartlage said she was responsible for selecting, designing and ordering awards for the club’s show at the annual Kentuckiana Dog Show Group in Louisville. She also volunteers for fragrance work and tracking trial events organized by the club.

“Volunteering with tracking is a lot of fun for me because I really get involved in watching a dog compete,” she said. “It’s moving when they are successful.”

In the past year alone, Hartlage said she has competed in more than 11 dog agility weekends and plans to compete in a few more agility events in the coming months. She has also participated in conformation shows over the years and recently participated in her first breeding event.

Aside from his recent victory at the Bluegrass Classic, Hartlage said one of the highlights of dog training so far has been when his dog, Derby, took first place in novice obedience and finished his title. 2019 US Australian Shepherds Association National Specialty Companion Dog Show. Missouri show.

For Hartlage, preparing for these events means giving up many of his evenings and weekends. She said she typically practices breeding or obedience on Mondays, does conformation races with the Mid-Kentucky Kennel Club on Tuesdays, trains agility on Wednesdays, and trains specifically at her next. competition on Thursday.

“No matter what type of event I’m preparing for, I always look to experienced coaches,” she said. “I have dedicated and accomplished people who are successful and have experience in everything I am learning to do.”

Hartlage balances her passion for training dogs with her role as a substitute teacher for the Elizabethtown Independent School District. Graduating from Meade County High School in 2010, Hartlage received a degree in Elementary Education from Murray State University in 2013.

Originally born in North Carolina, Hartlage spent her early childhood in Louisville before her family moved to Brandenburg in 2001. In 2014, she and her husband, Adam, moved to Elizabethtown.

Looking to the future, Hartlage said some of his goals include attending Rhyme in the most versatile Australian competition at the Australian Shepherd Club of America National Specialty and a day out at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at New York.

Hartlage has said so far that the hard work she has put in is certainly worth it.

“To be successful at a higher level of competition I have to spend a lot of hours with the dogs, but I really love and enjoy every minute,” she said. “Each new title that I win with my dogs is another goal achieved and each title means that our practice has paid off and that we are doing a good job working as a team. I’m also very excited when my friends win too, because training together makes you really close.

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