Sarah Hodges was born in Des Moines but primarily grew up in Oskaloosa, IA. She grew up in a loving, happy home of six, her dad Brad, her mother Beth, one older sister Anna, one younger sister Emilla, and one younger brother Phillip. It was a busy home filled with school activities, sports and music practices. As a child Sarah described herself as a quiet child, even if her siblings would say differently. She was pretty reserved in school and her activities. Her shyness did not keep her away from the physical activities she enjoyed such as soccer, dogs, and the violin. Her childhood was great, her parents and grandparents were always super supportive and her siblings were pretty awesome as well. They always had the opportunities to try different things. After high school Sarah attended Waldorf College, in Forest City, IA. She studied Wellness/Sports Medicine and played 2 years of collegiate soccer for the Warriors. Sarah then transferred to Mercy College of Health Sciences where she graduated with her Medical Assisting Certificate. After a few years, she then went back to college at William and Penn College for working adults and received her Bachelors of Arts in Human Resource Management. Currently she lives in Fort Dodge, IA where she works as a Medical Assistant. Sarah has always felt the need to help people. Medical Assisting allows her to help people in several different ways. Sarah enjoys fishing, hunting, hiking, and pretty much anything outdoors. Sarah’s niece, Emma brings her great joy. She loves her role of Aunt! Her dogs also bring great joy into her life. She has been blessed with her life so far but if she had to pick her biggest life challenge so far it would probably be not seeing eye to eye with her parents when she was younger. Thankfully they have always been supportive, even when Sarah was being difficult.
Sarah got involved with dogs and training at an early age. She always loved animals so when she was ten years old, her parents got her a gig volunteering at Shadowland Kennels with Jim Reeves and Julie McVey. They were Sarah’s path into the dog world. Jim let Sarah run his dog Risky at a few training days and that is all that it took to hook her. Jim also got her involved with NAHRA by letting her help him with his dogs and taking her to hunt tests with him. Jim Reeves has been Sarah biggest mentor and encourager. He has really helped her with her passion for dogs and has challenged her to think outside of the box when pursuing results. Larry Dusanek has also been a good mentor to Sarah and NAHRA. When asked about what NAHRA could improve upon, Sarah replied aside from wishing that there were more NAHRA tests in Iowa, Sarah is happy with NAHRA.
Sarah now has three dogs of her own, Levee, is her 1 year old Black Lab and the only one of her dogs that has run in NAHRA. Levee has one pheasant season under her belt and Sarah is very much looking forward to testing/hunting with her as she matures. Tucker, is Sarah’s 6 year old American Cocker Spaniel, he is her little buddy. Last year Sarah discovered that Tucker would retrieve birds, so she is working on training him to run at least in one NAHRA test, once his confidence is built up. Decca is a 4 year old Wirehaired Pointing Griffon. She is a fun dog to hunt behind and she has several pheasant seasons under her belt.
Sarah is a proud member of the Skunk River Hunting Retriever Association. YAY Skunk Dogs! Sarah said “I am so proud of this club. We have seen growth in not only members, but active members. We have also started doing some pointer trainings. I think this has encouraged people to look into our club”. Sarah typically trains with fellow Skunk dog members, but now that she has moved further away, it is a challenge. She tries to make it to Oskaloosa every so often to train with Jim Reeves, but she has been training by herself with the help of Jon, her boyfriend.
Sarah has run hunt tests in NAHRA and AKC, but prefers NAHRA because of the people. Sarah said, “NAHRA people are so friendly and helpful! There are some people that I have known since I was ten, so it feels like family when I get to see them at a test. They have all been very helpful, especially when I was a young handler. This has helped me as I have progressed”. Sarah biggest challenge as a handler is nerves. She gets very nervous going to the line. She is excited to get to the next level, with her dog Levee so they can start running trails. Running trails is Sarah’s favorite thing to do, she also likes running water marks and the challenges they present. When asked how she felt the first time going to the line Sarah said, “When I was younger I remember running through things like, don’t forget to drop the leash, or wait for the judge to call dog. The first time I went to the line with my own dog, I was so nervous I can’t remember what I felt. The very first ribbon I got, I was so excited, it felt good to know I had worked hard at something and accomplished my goal. My first ribbon with my own dog, I was ecstatic, I was so proud of my little girl and the team work we have achieved together.” Her proudest moment with Levee was at SRHA’s Spring test. Levee and Sarah had an awful training day the week before the test. The test of course had several different factors that she had not been asked to do yet. Climbing a steep embankment was one of them. It was so awesome for Sarah to watch from the line as Levee figured out how to maneuver around the fallen log and retrieve her duck. Sarah’s goals for 2016 are to finish Levee’s Started title and get her CGC, Canine Good Citizen. She would also like to try an obedience trial. Sarah is not a judge, preferring right now to focus on her dog, but in a few years she is interested in trying her hand at judging.
Sarah enjoys pheasant hunting with her Dad, brother and her boyfriend Jon. Jon and Sarah got out last season and Sarah got her first wild roosters. She is going to try deer hunting this fall. Sarah thinks it is awesome that more women are becoming involved with the outdoors. More the merrier. It has been awesome for her having girlfriends that have the passion for hunting. Even though they all prefer to hunt different things, nature and providing food for the table bring them together. It has been great- the number of woman who have joined SRHA. Sarah is happy to have women that can relate to what she loves to do.
Sarah loves the Midwest as there is always something to do. She has no plans on moving out of the area in the future. Sarah’s idea of the perfect day would be load up the dogs and the fishing poles, find a nice spot to take the dogs on a hike, do a little fishing, and finish out the day with grilling and a campfire.
One thing that people may be surprised to know about Sarah is for as much as she hates to travel out of the Midwest, she would like to visit Australia or New Zealand. We all hope Sarah get the chance to do so one day!