Bryant Janetzke, 17, is a Junior at Ionia High School in Ionia, Michigan. He is a Bulldog scholar, holding over a 4.0 cumulative GPA, all while traveling the US showing dogs regularly throughout the year. Bryant has shown primarily Doberman Pinschers for the past three years in Junior Showmanship.
During the summer of 2020, Andria Carpenter brought Bryant and “Della” together as a team. Since then, this team has achieved competitive wins from 2020-2023 in Junior Showmanship, earning them an invitation to Westminster 2022 and 2023, as well as an invitation to the 2020 through 2023 AKC National Championship. They have been in the Junior Showmanship Top 10 Working Group and Doberman Breed.
Aside from working as a team in Junior Showmanship, Bryant and Della have been seen performing within various Doberman specialties. These specialties have brought multiple Best Veteran and Award of Merit awards, and even Select for a 4-point major. Training never stops for this team. When they are not working on their Conformation skills, they are challenging themselves in Obedience, Rally, Trick Dog, and Canine Good Citizen.
Della earned her Beginner Novice and Novice Obedience titles, Rally Novice, Trick Dog Novice and Intermediate, and Canine Good Citizen Advanced and Urban. Della now has 10 titles within five various Performance Events. As versatile as Della is within the show/performance ring, Bryant is just as versatile during his everyday life. He enjoys biking, riding quads, camping, 4-H, hanging out with family and friends, participating in his local National Honor Society, FFA, Student Council, and Link Crew, and he wishes to pursue his college career at Michigan State University.
Where do you live? Where do you go to school?
Bryant Janetzke: I have grown up and live in the country on 30 acres in Saranac, Michigan, which is a small rural village between Lansing and Grand Rapids. I am a Junior at Ionia High School.
Do you have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? Do you have a job?
Bryant Janetzke: Outside of dog shows, I enjoy going on the trails with my quad and snowmobile. Another hobby that I enjoy is camping with my friends and family. I usually camp five weekends every summer. I like to go outdoors in my spare time and see nature. Even if my family camps in the travel trailer, I choose to sleep outside in my hammock where it is relaxing. Oftentimes when we go camping, we bring our jet skis, quads, speed boat, kayaks, or paddle boards. Each location that we go to offers different activities. One of my favorite locations is Timber Ridge in Traverse City, Michigan, because they have dodgeball and pickleball courts. As the seasons change, I also enjoy hunting and fishing.
I do not currently have a job. I am focusing on my schooling, as I have a challenging case load with college bound/advanced placement classes, and I attend the Ionia County Career Center where I am enrolled in the Plant and Animal Science class. Aside from my schooling and showing dogs, I am also active in several extra-curricular groups such as, FFA, National Honor Society, Interact, Link Crew, and Student Council.
Have you grown up in a doggy family? What is your breed(s)?
Bryant Janetzke: I have had my dogs my entire life. I began my journey in dogs with Pembroke Welsh Corgis and have since added the love of my Australian Shepherd and Doberman Pinscher. My mom grew up training and showing in Obedience. While I have put Obedience, Rally, and other Companion titles on my dogs, I prefer showing in Conformation events. The breeds I primarily show are Dobermans, Whippets, Chihuahuas, and Golden Retrievers. While not all of these breeds live with me full-time, I can enjoy them when I have them for training or weekends at a time for showing.
How were you introduced to Junior Showmanship? When did you start competing?
Bryant Janetzke: My interest in showing animals began when I was six with showing dairy goats in 4-H. I grew to love showmanship and have raised and shown sheep, market goats, rabbits, dairy calves, and cavy. When I was 12, I wanted to try something new. I wanted to get involved with showing dogs. My first time showing dogs was through 4-H Sweepstakes. I knew about AKC events through my mom’s experiences and we researched how to get involved. Once I found out how to sign up, I got my AKC Juniors number. My first show was on May 27, 2018.
What do you remember about the first time you showed up as a Junior?
Bryant Janetzke: My first show was in Kalamazoo, Michigan. I remember showing my first dog that I owned, “Knight.” He is a tri-colored Pembroke Welsh Corgi. I remember being happy with second place against a large group of people. We just went out into the ring, gained experience, and had fun together. Several people in the sport were very welcoming. Many of them I still show with or see today.
How do you prepare your dog and yourself for the ring? Any rituals? Any good luck charms?
Bryant Janetzke: I prepare my dog by practicing free-stacking before we enter the ring. I want to make sure that the dog’s attention is on me and that we are in tune with each other as a team. To prepare myself, I always just keep calm and know what I’m going to do before I enter the ring. I used to think wearing purple on Sundays brought me good luck and I believed this would lead me to more success.
Do you have a mentor in the sport? Have you assisted any Professional Handlers?
Bryant Janetzke: Many of my mentors are breeder/owner-handlers of various breeds. Since I am a full-time high school student who attends class in person, traveling with a professional handler is not an option. I have found that working closely with breeder/owner-handlers provides me with various breed experiences, keeps my show schedule busy, and my relationships to everyone close.
Andria Carpenter has allowed me to assist her at several shows throughout the year. We have traveled together to many states and have a great routine. She has allowed me to improve my skills by letting me show, co-own, and co-breed different breeds of dogs. Most importantly, she gave me my Juniors dog, Della. This is the dog that I have been showing for the past three years. With this dog, for the past two years, I have been invited to Westminster and we are almost qualified for the following year. We have also attended the AKC National Championship for Junior Showmanship for the past three years and have qualified for the fourth time this year. This success is due to Andria and the help she gave me, teaching me to show Della to her best potential.
Denise Hawkins has helped me learn about Pembroke Welsh Corgis and Swedish Vallhunds. Through Denise, I met Kimberly Bling. Both of them are members at our local training facility. Not only has Kim helped me gain knowledge about Chihuahuas, it was my mom and I who encouraged her to get involved showing with AKC. We have traveled to several states together and are now like family. She has also introduced me to Heather Bondra. These connections have provided me with opportunities I wouldn’t otherwise have.
When I wanted to gain more skills within the Sporting Group, the Golden Retriever was my breed of choice. I felt that I could easily transition my skills of showing Dobermans to Goldens. Alex Johnson, a former Junior, was able to get me in touch with Rachel Wulffenstein. Rachel has been so gracious to allow me to learn about the grooming and training of Golden Retrievers. She has also allowed me to show her male “Zander” in Breed and Juniors, along with her two puppies “Brutus” and “Zeke.” I was able to earn a Group One 4-6 Month Beginner Puppy with Brutus and Zeke, as well as a Best Puppy in Show with Zeke. Rachel has commented that Zeke has been much easier to work with since I began his handling.
I had the opportunity to assist professional handler Cynthia L. Smith, along with Lillian Brock, at the Doberman National in 2021 for the entire week. This was a huge honor. I learned how to maintain a busy schedule in a timely manner. This improved my time management and organizational skills. One piece of advice that I remember is that Cindy would say, “Dogs before everything.” I am grateful for everyone and everything that I learned during that week.
When time allows, I am able to help Kerrie Kuper with Whippets when our schedules align. I also help Heather Sekovich to get dogs into the ring when there may be a ring conflict. Rhonda Jesik also allows me to gain experience showing Afghan Hounds, and Nancy Temple has been a wonderful support with my Australian Shepherd, “Starksy.” My fellow 4-H members and leaders, Gail Roderick and Emma Wikstrom, have also given me tons of support and Performance/Companion Sport practice that I wouldn’t get anywhere else. It gives me a place to train my Doberman in higher Obedience levels and my Aussie in Rally and Agility, which is where he excels. I am thankful for all of the friends that I have made through AKC Juniors and these experiences.
What do you think about the Judges? Do they seem to enjoy the Juniors ring?
Bryant Janetzke: Most judges, when they judge Junior Showmanship, seem to enjoy the Juniors ring. They normally take their time and make the correct decisions. I find that when a judge truly makes the exhibitors work in the ring, making it competitive, I am able to show more of my showmanship skills. It keeps me driven, working, and focused in the ring the entire time.
Are there any wins for which you are particularly proud? Any memorable losses?
Bryant Janetzke: Two shows that I am very proud of occurred in Gray Summit, Missouri, and Springfield, Illinois, in 2022. During these two shows, I earned Reserve Best in Show Owner-Handled with the Chihuahua and Whippet that I showed last year. Also, during each of those shows, I earned a Best Junior Handler award. These wins made for a particularly proud moment because they were dogs that I spent a lot of time practicing and showing throughout the year.
The Reserve Best in Show wins led these two dogs to be in the Top 10 of the breed for owner-handled. They both then went on to earn Best of Opposite at the AKC National Championship Owner-Handled Finals in Orlando. Another proud moment was showing in Junior Showmanship and handling a Smooth Coat Chihuahua in the Breed Class for the first time at Westminster. We were awarded an Award of Merit placing.
One trait that many people recognize about me is that I often appear to respond similarly to a big win or a loss. I take each day and show at a time and continue to become better, learning from each opportunity that I have.
How is your breed shown? How do you accentuate your dog’s breed type in the ring?
Bryant Janetzke: Dobermans are shown either by hand-stacking on the ground (baiting forward) or free-stacking. Both forms are usually used within the breed ring. Which method is used the most depends on the dog and what allows the dog to look its best. Dobermans are very food-motivated, so using bait in the ring allows you to accentuate their best look. They should be well muscled and square, yet elegant.
Is your breed generally well-suited for a Junior Showmanship career?
Bryant Janetzke: I believe that the Doberman breed is well suited for Junior Showmanship because they are motivated to be trained. When your dog is especially food-motivated, it makes them driven to present themselves the best way possible with the handler. The Doberman breed is a very attractive and eye-catching breed, and a Junior Handler can present Dobermans in various ways. This allows the judge to see multiple skills of the Junior. My being taller in stature sometimes makes it challenging to become invisible as a handler; however, I have learned skills to allow this to happen. My handling techniques allow my dog to be the focus.
In Junior Showmanship, being a team is a big part of the competition—no matter the breed. You should find a breed that suits you and then you, as a team, will be well-suited for Junior Showmanship.
Have you bred or co-bred a litter? If so, can you share what you’ve learned from the experience?
Bryant Janetzke: I have had the opportunity to meet and collaborate with various breeders. I have had the privilege of co-breeding a Doberman litter with Melrae Dobermans and a Whippet litter with Andella Kennels. “China” was the first Doberman I showed in both the breed ring and Junior Showmanship. Not only was I involved with her training and showing, I also helped with the breeding process. I helped with various vet appointments and traveled to Tennessee for the stud service.
I visited the puppies throughout their growing stages. I also learned various puppy stacking techniques and helped to evaluate the litter. “Freya” was the first Whippet that I raised as a puppy. I formed a bond with her and taught her the basics to prepare her for the show ring. I have also helped with the breeding and evaluation process of Whippets. This has helped me gain knowledge of proper structure from an early age. These experiences have improved my personal knowledge and ability to work with people on a professional level.
With so many “low entry” breeds, what are your thoughts on breed preservation?”
Bryant Janetzke: Every dog was bred for a specific purpose. With some breeds, those purposes are no longer needed or they may not be used in that way any longer. For this reason, some breeds are seeing a lower entry. To keep the breeds alive, it takes positive connections between the public, breeders, owners, and handlers. Seeing the public at events more recently allows for positive attention to each breed.
Are there any breeds that you would love to show but haven’t shown yet?
Bryant Janetzke: I am always looking for an opportunity to show various breeds. The next breed that I plan to learn more about are Shetland Sheepdogs. I also hope to show other Sporting breeds. Since this is my last year in Juniors, I am trying to learn as many skills about various breeds as possible. This will make me more prepared when I age out.
If you could choose only one breed to live with forever, which breed would it be and why?
Bryant Janetzke: If I could choose only one breed to live with forever, I would choose a Doberman. I would choose a Doberman because not only do they make the best pet, they are also able to participate and enjoy many dog sports and activities. And Dobermans, being guardian dogs, make me feel safe.
Can you share a word or two about your relationship with your current dog? What does s/he mean to you?
Bryant Janetzke: “Loving” and “loyal” are two words to describe my relationship with my Juniors dog. She means the world to me.
What are your goals for the future? Do you see yourself continuing in the sport once you’ve aged-out?
Bryant Janetzke: After high school graduation next spring, I plan on attending college full-time. I hope to go to Michigan State University and study actuarial science. I do not see myself as a professional handler; however, I would enjoy entering shows on the weekends, here or there, as time allows.
Is there a funny story that you can share about your experiences as a Junior Handler?
Bryant Janetzke: When I attended Westminster 2022, I showed Chihuahuas in Breed and my Doberman in Junior Showmanship. We thought that “Diva, the Chihuahua, would be a great model for the Marc Jacobs free photo shoot that was offered, considering the company specialized in hand bags.
My Doberman Della is also photogenic, but we did not know what they could do with her and the hand bags. Well, the Marc Jacobs team loved the “team” of Diva and Della, being that they are quite opposites. We told them that they are great friends who look out for each other in different ways. For a photo, they had the idea of putting Diva on Della’s back while she wore a necklace. They asked if they could do this. We laughed and replied, “Yes, they do it all the time.” Well, needless to say, we wanted this photo shoot for the dogs, as they could be featured on their website. So, what did we do?
We taught an “on the spot” trick to Della and Diva—and it was surprisingly flawless. Della laid patiently on the screen sheet while Diva sat on her back. We even got a photo where the two stuck their tongues out at the same time. I think that it was their way of saying, “Ha, look what we can do.” You should never underestimate yourself or your dogs, and always make time for fun!