Dog owners know that when it comes to getting their furry friends to obey a command, treats can be a powerful thing.
Ryan Miller, 12, of Parker, has firsthand experience in the magical influence of treats. He's known to carry chicken breast, raw …
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Dog owners know that when it comes to getting their furry friends to obey a command, treats can be a powerful thing.Ryan Miller, 12, of Parker, has firsthand experience in the magical influence of treats. He's known to carry chicken breast, raw venison and even Cheerios in his pocket for his star pupil, a 1-year-old miniature schnauzer named Kid.So powerful are these delicacies — along with Miller's gentle coaxing — that Kid placed second out of 30 entries at the 21st Annual Rocky Mountain Cluster Dog Show at the National Western Complex in February.Aside from treats, however, Kid seems to genuinely enjoy the spotlight. The judges took notice when he presented a noble “stack” — a stance with precise angulation — in the ring, and they admired his stately gait. Plus, the miniature schnauzer avoided breaking one of the cardinal rules: no barking.Miller and Kid started out by attending conformation classes for show training in Littleton. The partners would attend multiple times per week.“First, you have to get them used to being up on the tables,” Miller said.Most schoolkids wouldn't have the opportunity to put so much work into what many consider to be a weekend hobby. But Miller is able to attend conformation classes and four-day shows because he's a student at Colorado Connections Academy, an online school that affords some flexibility. The sixth-grader has, for example, worked ahead in social studies, health and art, enabling him to dedicate more time to a worthwhile passion he can share with his family.Miller attended traditional school through fourth grade, but was getting left behind.“He had, like, 30 kids in his kindergarten and first-grade class, which when you're first setting that foundation for learning, that's just too many kids,” said his mom, Machelle.Later, when he transferred to a school with smaller class sizes, Miller wanted to move forward and conduct research, but was held back because the rest of the class wasn't moving fast enough.Now, he has the ability to more forward at his own pace, and has even put in the time and effort to become a second-degree black belt in taekwondo on the side. He also teaches the martial art to younger kids two nights per week and gains much-needed socialization from the activity.Taking Kid to dog shows has become just as important and has given Miller a purposeful responsibility. His early success has provided further motivation. His first dog show was in September and the second-place finish is impressive by all standards.Miller loves miniature schnauzers, but has taken more interest in Havanese Pomeranians and Japanese Chins. His ultimate goal is to enter a dog in the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York.
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