Carson City’s Ginger snaps up awards |

Carson City’s Ginger snaps up awards

Ginger proudly shows off her three gold medals from the 2016 Barn Hunt National competition with John Fisher, left and Liz Leisek, right.

When Ginger the dog returned to Carson City’s animal shelter for the second time five years ago, little did she know she would soon become a champion.

Now at six years old, the Australian cattle dog mix won three medals at the 2016 Barn Hunt National at Purina Farms in Gary Summit, Mo., held Sept. 9-11.

Last year, she won gold for the Games Championship division. She’s also the only mix breed to obtain a Flyball Master title — seven times.

“I have boxes and boxes of ribbons and awards in our house,” said John Fisher, Ginger’s adoptive father. “She is the top mix breed dog to have the most championship legs.”

Barn Hunting hasn’t been around for long, but it’s a game in which a handler and dog search a course of straw for hidden rats in tubes.

According to Fisher and his fiancé, Liz Leisek, Ginger is the most decorated dog in all of Barn Hunt competitions, with more than 22,000 competing dogs by winning gold in all three divisions.

“She blossomed,” Leisek said. “She turned into a different dog when we adopted her. She has accomplished so much. It changed our lives and it changed Ginger’s.”

The sport is popular in Northern Nevada and it’s also where some of the top dogs in the country hail. At last year’s Barn Hunt National, the grand champion winner was from Elko, and the second place winner was from Gardnerville. Currently, there are two clubs in the Reno-Carson area.

Fisher said Ginger was returned twice to the shelter for her destructive behavior — which is natural for her breed.

“She’s a working dog,” he said. “She’s lucky to work with us every day. The sport gives her something to do compared to laying around the house being bored.”

Ginger became an inspiration to the couple; they got involved with Barn Hunting when they fell in love with her spirit.

“Originally, we were looking for a cat to catch mice,” Fisher said. “But then we noticed her and connected with her excitement and enthusiasm.”

Ginger turned out to be a better mouse hunter than a cat.

“She would come to the chicken coop with me but she could care less,” Leisek said. “But when she found a mouse, she was on it.”

The couple trains Ginger once or twice a week. Since her adoption, Fisher became a Barn Hunt trainer for Carson Valley and a nationwide judge for the sport. Leisek, who’s also a trainer, is currently practicing also to become a judge.

From there, the couple got their three pure bred Australian cattle dogs involved. Fisher said the dogs learned the sport quickly.

“When you channel this sport to them, all of the problems go away,” Fisher said. “The sport changes their demeanor. You can’t have a working breed that isn’t working.”

As part of the Barn Hunt Association, the clubs are hosting trials in Carson City. The next trial is scheduled for Dec. 7.

“Any dog can do it,” he said. “I’ve never met a dog that can’t do it.”

For those who admire the furry highest ranked mixed breed dog in North American Barn Hunting, a fan page for Ginger has been set up on Facebook.

“She knows she does a good job,” Leisek said. “She’s always figuring out new ways to make games interesting, for herself and for us. She has become something more.”

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