DOGS, HANDLERS TAKE CENTER STAGE

July 31, 2001 12:00 am
BEST BUDDIES: First year 4-H dog handler Mary Barrett waits for her turn in the ring with her Jack Russell terrier, Buddy, at the Union County Fair Monday. (Observer photos/PHIL BULLOCK).
BEST BUDDIES: First year 4-H dog handler Mary Barrett waits for her turn in the ring with her Jack Russell terrier, Buddy, at the Union County Fair Monday. (Observer photos/PHIL BULLOCK).

By Rachel Wesche

Observer intern

Hurry up and wait!

That was the catch phrase among the first-year 4-H dog handlers Monday as they eagerly waited through the senior and intermediate showmanship classes for their turn in the ring at the Union County Fair.

Although some had shown before in fun matches, for many, this was the first showing of a newly trained family pet.

I dont know how Lucky will do around the other dogs, said Kiley Dewey, who was preparing to show her Labrador retriever.

Hes pretty good, but he likes to sniff around.

Mary Barrett had a similar concern about her Jack Russell terrier, Buddy.

Hes a nervous little guy. Hes afraid of the other dogs. Hell probably growl at them and try to show them hes tougher, she said.

For first-year handler Melissa Wolfe, showing her dog Amber, who took reserve champion in another show, made her just a little bit nervous.

Amber, a golden retriever-Lab mix, is more than just a show dog. She is also a vital member of the family, according to Wolfe.

Shes like a nana to us. Shes teaching the kids to walk, Wolfe said, watching her toddling sister grip Ambers leash for support.

Shes just a family pet.

The girls had advice for others wishing to train a full-grown family pet into a show dog.

You have to work with them a lot every day, Dewey said.

Wolfe added, If you want your dog to mind you, you cant let others work with them.

Both girls agreed that treats were the way to a dogs heart.

They think, If I do a trick and I get a treat, thats a good deal, said Dewey.

Of course, this method of training, they said, requires them to feed them less food to offset the extra calories from treats.

Dewey, Wolfe and Barrett are members of the 4-H dog club in Cove.

Monday featured the 4-H dog showmanship and costume contests. Obedience contests were scheduled for today.

The fair swings into full gear Wednesday.