Puppy pals extend fair funIf you think you saw it all at the fair — wait — there’s more. Next week 4-H youth send in the dogs. The annual 4-H Dog Show begins at 3 p.m. Wednesday at the Head of the Lakes Fairgrounds.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
If you think you saw it all at the fair — wait — there’s more.
Next week 4-H youth send in the dogs. The annual 4-H Dog Show begins at 3 p.m. Wednesday at the Head of the Lakes Fairgrounds. The event tests canine obedience, agility and even rhythm. Everyone is invited to watch the show. There’s no cost to attend, but the only dogs allowed are the competitors.
Last week, members of the Puppy Pals 4-H Dog Club took turns leading their dogs through a canine obstacle course. They jumped through tires, wove through poles and padded through tunnels as part of the agility competition.
Katie Johnson and her poodle mix, Duke, were sailing though the course when they came to the chute — a round hoop with a long tail of material the dogs have to push their way through. It didn’t help that the chute was damp. Duke, it turns out, doesn’t like getting wet. In the words of his owner, he’s a little “prissy.” The little poodle walked into the mouth of the tunnel, then trotted over to a wooden A-frame, his favorite part of the course. He scaled to the top, turned and gave Katie a big doggie grin.
The chute proved challenging for many of the pups.
Breanna Thiel, 13, finally coaxed through her miniature Australian shepherd, Princess. But it took plenty of patience and treats.
Romeo, a 3-year-old beagle/boxer mix, dogged his way through the chute, then gave a shake before following owner Taryn Rhoads, 12, to the next obstacle.
The complicated agility course takes a lot of room to set up, said Puppy Pals leader Vicki Garro, so it only comes out in the summer.
Spectators who pack into the fairgrounds for the show will see more than agility on display.
“This is only one event,” Garro said. The dogs and their owners will also compete in showmanship, obedience, rally obedience — a course of obedience commands that an owner has to lead their dog through using only voice and hand commands — and dancing with your dog.
The Puppy Pals meet weekly at the fairgrounds, and pooches are always welcome. For these 4-H students, in particular, the emphasis is on having fun with their dogs. The group works on obedience and other competitive training, but also spends time playing board games like “My Dog Can Do That,” taking field trips, putting in community service hours and even holding costume parties … all with their puppy pals.
“We try to include our dogs in everything,” Garro said.
Members of 4-H have more than 75 different projects to choose from each year, from raising and training animals to computers, cooking, sewing and robotics. They pick 10 to work on throughout the year, often capping the experience by showing their results at the county fair. Some take the lessons learned all the way to the state fair.
Contrary to popular belief, Garro said, “4-H isn’t just for country kids.” And the opportunities are as big or small as students want them to be.
Katie Stenroos, a member of Puppy Pals, has traveled to Washington D.C., for a national conference and serves as a youth representative on the state 4-H Council because “4-H has taken me everywhere,” she said.
Members of Puppy Pals and other local 4-H groups hope that visitors who stop in to watch the show will be encouraged to stop by a meeting and get involved.
“Then we can get more people to join,” Stenroos said.
For more information on Puppy Pals, call Garro at (715) 399-3067 or email email@example.com. To learn about other 4-H clubs and opportunities in Douglas County, look up the website at http://douglas.uwex.edu/4h or call Joan Wimme at (715) 395-1363.