My name is Nikki Banfield. My career as a dog trainer, competitor, and Schutzhund USA judge began 43 years ago. Every person I have come in contact with in this time span has helped me grow as a person and trainer, thank you all. There are several people that came into my life at pivotal times. St. Cloud Dog Training Academy in Minnesota welcomed me into their family in 1980. Sylvia Hirt, took dog training seriously and actively competed in A.K.C. obedience trials. How many dogs can you fit into a 1973 Ford van? Every weekend, we tested that hypothesis with varying results as we loaded up the van and continued on our mission to show our dogs. Sylvia successfully coached me through my first CD and CDX on a German Shorthaired Pointer and a CD on a Doberman. I was invited to become an apprentice trainer under Sylvia’s sharp eye. Sylvia took me to the “dark side” and showed me yet another dimension of dog training, K9’s and Schutzhund.
Sylvia explained to me that Schutzhund was a sport that originated in Germany as a temperament test for the GSD. I carefully observed the training session and was impressed with many things, the intensity and drive of the dogs, the control demonstrated by all the handlers, and the bond and relationship that was shared between the dogs and handlers. So began my journey into the sport. Sylvia hooked me up with the Twin Cities Working Dog Association headed by Dave and Donna Rednour. They provided a solid foundation in all phases, they have good temperament. I can blame my addiction on them.
My military duty took me abroad to Germany. I spent 7 wonderful years training with many clubs. Roland Seibel was instrumental in my achieving a Schutzhund 3 title on my Rottweiler, Ruger. I was a member of a local club, PSGV, in Weiderstadt. We hosted the FCI qualification for the world championship in tracking 2 years in a row. I am proud to have been chosen as a tracklayer for those events.
When I came home to American soil, I trained with Al Milner who got me interested in becoming a judge. He recommended me to the judges program and I am entering my 13th year as a judge. I don’t know whether to thank you or not Al. Al helped me train a female GSD, Loki, to a Schutzhund 3, FH title. I am proud to say that our first national competition in Denver in 1987 resulted in our team being the highest scoring female that year. I will thank you for that Al. I have titled many dogs since then and the journey continues. I have dedicated my life to the care, training, and evaluation of the German Shepherd and all working breeds.
JUST A DOG
From time to time, people tell me, “lighten up, it’s just a dog,”
Or “that’s a lot of money to spend on a dog.” They don’t understand the
Distance traveled, the time spent, or the costs involved for “just a
Some of my proudest moments have come about with “just a dog.”
Many hours have passed and my only company was “just a dog,” but I
Did not once feel slighted.
Some of my saddest moments have been spent with “just a dog,” and in
Those days of darkness, the gentle touch of “just a dog” gave me
Comfort and reason to overcome the day.
If you, too, think it’s “just a dog,” then you will probably
Understand phrases like “just a friend,” “just a sunrise” or “just a
“Just a dog” brings into my life the very essence of friendship,
Trust, and pure unbridled joy.
“Just a dog” brings out the compassion and patience that make me a
Better person. Because of “just a dog” I will rise early, take long
Walks and look longingly to the future.
So for me and the folks like me, it’s not “just a dog” but an
Embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of the future, the fond
Memories of the past, and the pure joy of the moment.
“Just a dog” brings out what’s good in me and diverts my thoughts
Away from myself and the worries of the day.
I hope that someday they can understand that it’s not “just a dog”
But the thing that gives me humanity and keeps me from being “just a
These words encompass the passion, deep love and affection I have for dogs. They characterize me as a human being. They explain, that as this remarkable journey of life continues, I will provide direction to you how to achieve the best training and relationship between you and ”Just a Dog”.