NACSW Elite Champion – Kiyo’s Story



NACSW Elite Champion.  What a lofty goal!

Kiyo made Akita history yesterday.  Again.

Kiyo also made deaf dog history.  Again.


(Here’s Kiyo, napping after making breed history.)

Yesterday, Kiyo exceeded earned her NACW Elite Championship at a trial  in Dunkirk NY.  Certifying Official Donna Hreniuk set wonderful searches, the site was a lovely camp on the shores of Lake Erie, and the weather was sunny, breezy and cool.

She is the first Akita and the first deaf dog to earn this title!

NACSW elite class requires the dog to accumulate a total of 1000 points to earn their championship.  We went into the trial needing 35 points, though because of organization rules, a team must accrue a minimum of 43 points for the trial to count towards the final total.

I was confident that Little Missy would earn her points, but….. stuff happens.  So I kept a low profile and did not broadcast we had entered.

When I get the videos, I’ll post about the searches – a fun day!  Love trialing under Donna.

Because it felt too good to be true, I couldn’t make myself believe that she’d actually accomplished this incredible goal until it was announced.  I cried when I got her rosette.

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Earning this with Kiyo is bittersweet – what a gamut of emotions! Gratitude, relief, joy, pride and sadness come with this ribbon.


It’s a relief to be done. We pushed really hard to get here. We trialed, we trained, we set goals, succeeded (and failed), set new goals – all with the focus of Kiyo becoming the first Akita to earn this title.

Pride:  Kiyo is the first Akita to earn the NACSW NW3, NW3 elite, Elite 1, Elite 2, Elite 3 and now Elite-Ch.  My perfect, generous, lovely, hard-working teammate.

Oh, the places we’ve gone!  Nashua, NH, Yanceyville, NC, York ME, Shepherdsville KY, Columbia NJ, Trout Run PA, Worton MD, Sandwich, IL, Thompson, CT, and a dozen other locations in between.  Think: thousands of miles of windshield time, hundreds of books-on-CD, and a new car.

Oh, the people we’ve met!  Julie Symons, Stacy Barnett, Peg Munves, Karin Damon, Margaret Simek, Maria Corrigan, Sarah Woodruff and my dear friend Holly Bushard…….to name but a few of the movers & shaker in the NW world that have crossed our paths and impacted our sphere.

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(Kiyo & me with her ginormous ribbon (plus a second place rosette!), Julie Symons (our NW trainer for Kiyo’s rock solid foundation), and Lori Timberlake’s (trial host*))

And locally, most of my friends are involved in the sport.  It’s addicting!  Joy with dogs!  Pups and their people, learning and having a blast.

Yesterday, Kiyo & I ran our last elite searches as a team.  Part of me is still in denial about that fact.

There is nothing like NACSW Elite.  For me, the word that comes to mind is sublime. It’s been me, and my best friend and teammate, working in gigantic exteriors or tricky interiors, puzzling through a search of 80 containers, or a line of 12 golf carts.  Me, my dog, trust, fun and teamwork.  Sublime.

I will miss that.  Terribly.



*Kiyo passed her Odor Recognition Tests via Lori’s dog training business, Do Over Dog Training — she hosted the ORTs!






5 thoughts on “NACSW Elite Champion – Kiyo’s Story

  1. I am blown away by you & Kiyo’s accomplishments, especially this last one! Way to go you two!!!!!!!! – E


  2. I love Akitas and have wanted one for over a decade, but I sometimes find the culture around them (they must be dominated and have an alpha) off putting. It is wonderful to find a blog devoted to training them with positive reinforcement! Congrats on your awesome achievement!


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