FALCON HEIGHTS - Three purple ribbons, one pink ribbon and three plaques were among the honors Worthington’s DJ Lambert brought home following the 2013 Minnesota State 4-H Dog Show recently.
Unlike other trips earned by 4-H’ers to compete at state, the dog show - along with the horse show - follow the annual state fair because, as Lambert said, “dogs and a lot of people just don’t go well.”
Lambert earned his fifth consecutive trip to the State 4-H Dog Show after excelling with his two purebred black Labradors, BJ and Wham, at the regional dog show in Worthington in August.
In this, his most successful year in state competition, he garnered champions in Dog Obedience (BJ in graduate beginner, grades 7-8, and Wham in pre-open, all grades); and Agility Jumpers 2 with Wham. He and his dogs also earned reserve champion in elementary agility, grades 4-8; an award of excellence in senior agility, all grades; and a blue ribbon in agility jumpers 1, grades 7-8.
“Last year, I only competed in one class (at state) because one of my dogs came into heat, so it was kind of weird,” he said of the top honors.
In the obedience classes, dogs must complete certain tasks, such as a long sit, long down, heal on leash, Figure 8 and stand for exam. Agility classes have the canines performing multiple pole jumps and maneuvering through tunnels.
“They were exceptionally well-behaved,” Lambert said of his dogs. “They did what I wanted them to do.”
Lambert said he could tell his dogs were excited to win.
“They’re so happy when you’re up there and get champion,” he said. “They know that it was them.
“In the classes, most of the judging is on the dog, but some comes onto the handler,” he explained.
Wham and BJ competed against dogs of all different breeds from across the state - the largest class of which included 32 dogs. That was one of the classes in which Lambert’s dog took champion.
Lambert, whose dad, Thad, trains dogs for pheasant hunting retrieval, said that while some people say he has an advantage because his dogs are professionally trained, he disagrees.
“Getting them to lie down is a challenge because they’re taught not to lie down,” he said. “That’s been a big thing with all three that I’ve trained.”
BJ and Wham, at age 4½, are full sisters - the only two of the litter whelped by mother Bee and a national field champion sire.
Lambert has competed with Wham for the past three years, while BJ was in her first year of 4-H competition this season. She took the place of Bee, who died last year.
Dog training takes up much of Lambert’s summer vacation. In addition to working with his show dogs at his dad’s home near Round Lake, he participates in weekly 4-H dog obedience classes that extend from June until the county fair.
Since returning from the state show, BJ is resting up for delivery of her first puppies and Wham will leave for South Dakota to go pheasant hunting.
“They have the winter to relax, and then we’ll start working with them again next summer,” Lambert said.
With so many honors garnered this year, Lambert has set some lofty goals for next year in the 4-H dog project.
“I’ve been trying to get champions across the board,” he said, adding that he’s earned one reserve champion in each of the last two contests at the county fair. He also wants to get a perfect score with one of his dogs.
“My biggest goal is to do better than I did this year at state. I don’t know if I can, but I’ll give it a shot,” he added.
Lambert credits Doug and Cathy Steinmetz, Nobles County 4-H dog trainers, as well as his parents (his mom Kim resides in Worthington) with teaching and encouraging him in the dog project.
Lambert is a ninth-grader at Worthington High School and a member of the Indian Lake Progressives 4-H Club.
Additional results from Nobles County 4-H’ers at the State Dog Show are as follows:
Grayson Christensen, Agility Jumpers 2, grades 4-8, blue.
Ben Doeden, Agility Beginner, grades 9-13, blue; agility Jumpers 1, grades 11-13, blue.
Bryan Doeden, Agility Jumpers 2, grades 9-13, red; Agility Senior, all grades, white.
Beau Loosbrock, Obedience Beginner B, grade 6, blue; Novice Showmanship, grade 6, red.
Bailey Onken, Agility Intermediate, grades 4-8, white; Agility Jumpers 2, grades 4-8, red; Novice Obedience, grades 7-8, white; Open Showmanship, grade 8, blue.
Christian Weidert, Agility Beginner, grades 4-8, red; Agility Jumpers 1, grades 4-8, blue; Graduate Beginner Obedience, grades 4-6, red; Open Showmanship, grade 6, red.