613 – Junior Handler Wins NOHS Finals in Orlando

Junior Handler Wins NOHS Finals in Orlando

Junior Handler Wins NOHS Finals in Orlando

Adam showing his dog to Best of Breed.

The 2023 AKC National Owner Handled Series Finals was won by 14-year-old Adam Kucera and his two year old Irish Setter, Stryker. Adam and Stryker’s breeder, Patty Fanelli, join host Laura Reeves to share their story.

“At (Adam’s) first show, he beat me for Winner’s Dog,” Fanelli said. “It was one point with the brother. The next show was the Potomac Specialty. He went best in sweeps and he took a five point major and went best of Winners and best puppy.

“And I said to him, “You just took a five-point specialty major.” And he said, ‘I don’t even know what that is.’ He sure knows now.”

Stryker is Adam’s first Irish Setter that his grandmother arranged to purchase from Fanelli. He showed a Boston Terrier first, but really wanted to show a bigger dog.

Adam says he does all of Stryker’s grooming “except the clipper work because I am so afraid he’s going to just move and it’s just going to go, it’s all gone.”

The most challenging part of training Stryker, Adam said, was teaching him to freestack “Because he always just wants to jump, he always just wants to jump on my shoulders and thinks it’s time to play as soon as I hold a treat and not hold him.” A 4.0 home-schooled student, Adam says he practices with Stryker every morning before completing his school work.

Competing in NOHS gives Adam and is family more time to spend at the shows.

“My first show, we went to the show and I didn’t win the breed,” Adam said. “We went to go watch the groups and we saw that there were two groups going and we were like ‘why are there two, there should only be one?’ So then we found out what owner handler was. It’s kind of hard to show an Irish Setter. There’s not that many owner handlers out where I live, so if we want to stay a little bit longer at the show, we can do owner-handled and that gives us stuff to do and it’s a really fun competition.”

Adam has set lofty goals for himself and his dog. His remaining goals for Stryker include winning best of breed at the National Specialty and winning the breed at Westminster Kennel Club. He dreams of becoming a professional handler and breeding Irish Setters in his future.

Take a listen to the entire episode for more from this outstanding young man.


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