Spotlight on Juniors in Performance Events

Dakota Renfree, age 16, handles her Brittany in the Retrieving Championship

In an age where so much of the news is about troubled teens it is absolutely refreshing to meet one that is well grounded. Dakota Renfree could serve as a role model for young kids. This pretty young lady is excelling in a sport that is typically adult oriented. There are no breaks for Junior Handlers in Pointing Breed Field Trial competition.

At the recent AKC Pointing Breed Gun Dog Championship held at the Red Rock Area just out side of Reno, Nevada, Dakota competed against many of the top dogs and handlers in the Nation. While her dog did not place, it gave a respectable performance and this young lady was cool and collected in her handling ability. Dakota and her Brittany, Dakota's Booker T completed a nice find on Chukar. Dakota worked with the gunner to flush the bird in the best direction and then capably handled her dog through the retrieve. It was a very impressive performance especially considering that Dakota is only 16 years old.

Dakota's story begins long before this event. She began attending field trials with her Grandparents, Ed and Linda Dixon when she was a toddler while her mother was delivering her baby sister. At the tender age of 8 she ran a dog in field trial competition for the first time. She began riding at an early age and is an accomplished rider. At age 12, she competed in a local Rodeo against women on the pro-rodeo circuit and placed second in the Barrel Race. Dakota used her winnings to buy her first Brittany. When that dog didn't work out, the breeder gave her a replacement puppy in 2002. Dakota named him Dakota's Booker T.

Dakota lives near her Grandparents and is fortunate to be able to train dogs with Grandpa Ed, who with substantial help from Dakota taught Booker to be steady on his game. They described him as having been smart and easy to train. Dakota has placed Booker many times in large stakes of 32 or more entries. Booker has six points towards his Field Championship, including his Major; Dakota has handled him to four of them. Booker also holds the title of Junior Hunter. Dakota's parents are active with the California Brittany Club, as workers and as supporters of Dakota in both field trials and the shows. It is a three generation field trial family.

In addition to field work, Dakota and Booker have accomplished much in the show ring. The combination of the two very different arenas has gained Dakota the title of California Brittany Club Dual Junior Handler for 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005. In addition to being a great team in competition, Dakota and Booker are best of friends; Booker even sleeps in her bed. Dakota's interests are varied. She is an active member of her Church Youth group. She is home schooled and plays sports in the California Home School Sports Association. Varsity basketball and Varsity volleyball are her sports. Recently, she traveled with her basketball team from California to Oklahoma City for a tournament. The fact that she is home schooled allows her the freedom to travel to field trials. She gets top grades and can be found studying during down times at the trials.

Dakota retains her love of barrel racing and is currently training a filly to be her next barrel horse. With her love of animals, her ability to relate to them and her willingness to work, she will always be a success. This quiet, unassuming young lady is extremely well liked by her field trial peers of all ages. With more young people like Dakota Renfree, the sport of pointing dog field trials would have a secure place in the future. Hats off to this outstanding teenager!

Submitted by Bonnie Hidalgo, AKC Executive Field Representative

Dakota in the gallery at the AKC Gun Dog Champ. Breakaway for Dakota's brace with Booker being released by Ed Dixon.
Dakota flushing over Booker for gunner Ellis Herz. Dakota's Booker T on point.
Booker retrieving Chukar to Dakota. Dakota & Booker after bird work.
Dakota Renfree Linda & Ed Dixon with Dakota.
Dakota posing Booker. Dakota & Ed