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Bardstown woman continues dog competitions after move from Japan

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By Kacie Goode

Junko Nagafuchi and her Shiba inu, Kurio, stand out at some agility dog competitions they attend. While the Shiba is a popular dog breed in Japan, it is still growing in the United States, and is outnumbered in competitions by border collies and Australian shepherds. But 10-year-old Kurio’s age and breed didn’t hold him back, as he and Nagafuchi took home a first-place agility award in May after competing in the Queen City Dog Training Club event in Ohio.

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Nagafuchi moved to Bardstown six months ago for her husband Hiroshi’s job. They came over from Nagoya Japan, bringing Kurio and another dog, Kanoko, with them.

In their short time in Bardstown, Nagafuchi has become an active member at the Nelson County Public Library, participating in weekly yoga classes. It is also at the library where she has been trying to learn English under the direction of Gail Hart.

Last week, Nagafuchi and her peers met with Hart to work on descriptive words and describing animals. When the lesson was complete, Nagafuchi spoke some about Kurio, calling the breed pretty, but stubborn.

Nagafuchi started training Kurio in agility as a puppy, taking classes when she could.

She started, she said, because Kurio had a lot of energy.

After about two years, they started competing, and Kurio has done well. He is most skilled at hurdles she said.

Coming to a new country and still learning the language, being able to continue competing with Kurio has been beneficial for Nagafuchi, and the duo have competed in parts of Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky. She has even set up a practice course for the dogs at her Bardstown home.

ESL class shares cultures, learning

Gail Hart began teaching English as a second language in Bardstown 10 years ago, originally working with the local adult learning center. After the center closed, she continued offering the lessons to new community members on Wednesdays at the public library.

Last week, Hart was busy working with two Japanese-speaking students and three Spanish-speaking students.

Both Junko Nagafuchi and Mayumi Nakamura were from Japan. Nagafuchi was one of the new members to the group, but Nakamura, who has been involved with the class for about two years, helped break some of the language barrier with translation.

Also attending last week’s class was Gela Robledo, of Mexico, and her children Mariana and Montse.

While the languages were different, they were all working together to improve their English, but they also enjoyed learning a little more about each other. For Hart, who has worked with many students over the years, the dedication she sees from those in her class is inspiring.

“It takes so much courage to move to another country, leave everyone at home and you don’t speak the language,” Hart said. “I have so much respect for them.”