4-H'ers lead four-legged friends in dog show
WORTHINGTON -- Ben Doeden was looking forward to the start of the 4-H dog show Wednesday morning. As the Worthington fifth-grader stood beside his 2-year-old golden retriever, Karamel, the youngster noted the agility portion of the show -- the fi...
WORTHINGTON -- Ben Doeden was looking forward to the start of the 4-H dog show Wednesday morning.
As the Worthington fifth-grader stood beside his 2-year-old golden retriever, Karamel, the youngster noted the agility portion of the show -- the first part of the competition -- was his favorite.
"We go up, down, over and through," Doeden said of the outdoor obstacle course that tests a dog's agility. "It's running around with my dog having fun. I like agility the most. Obedience is OK, but I still like agility."
Doeden, a member of the Elk Tip Toppers 4-H club, was one of 25 competitors with dogs in the show at Nobles County Fairgrounds. Youths from Murray, Rock, Nobles and Cottonwood counties participated.
"Kids that advance -- anyone that gets a blue ribbon -- can go the state dog Sept. 23-24 at the State Fairgrounds," dog trainer Cathy Steinmetz said.
Steinmetz plays an important part in preparing for the show, as well as the show itself. She has worked with the Nobles County Dog Project for 13 years and has a course for dogs on her Fulda property that's a popular training spot.
"We go out to Steinmetz's, but we have a course at home, too," Doeden said.
The agility segment of the dog show was split into five classes and took place on a course in front of Worthington Arena. Steinmetz was the only person aware of the course's layout before Wednesday, and youths and their dogs had the opportunity to walk and run through the course before competition began.
"Agility is a matter of time and what are called defaults," Steinmetz explained. "A perfect score is zero, which means there are no time faults or what they call obstacle faults, like missing a contact zone or knocking off a bar -- anything they do wrong on the course."
Each course has a maximum time limit, Steinmetz added, and penalty points are assessed for exceeding it.
Showmanship takes into consideration how well kids show their dogs according to breed, Steinmetz said. Youths are asked questions relevant to their dog's breed during that segment of the show; they also must pay attention to such details as making sure the dog sits when its handler comes to a stop.
Wednesday's dog show included three levels of obedience competition, and Steinmetz said a perfect score in that category is 200 -- with points subtracted from there for mistakes. Both showmanship and obedience took place inside the arena.
Ashley Kingery, who will be an eighth-grader this fall at Worthington Middle School, was participating in her sixth 4-H dog show event. She has won several ribbons and went to the state dog show in 2004.
By 8 a.m., Kingery and the others were with their dogs at the fairgrounds, prepped and ready to go. Kingery admitted to being nervous, but was her dog, too?
"No, he just thinks we're practicing," she said, noting she also takes her dog to the Steinmetz course.
Kingery proceeded to take her chocolate Lab, Lewis, through the agility course almost flawlessly. For her, the dog show is a fun occasion.
"It's kind of like working with your best friend," she said.
Wednesday also served as entry day for all open class foods, fine arts, fancy work, fruits and vegetables, and plants and flowers. The Nobles County Fair begins today with 4-H sheep, rabbit, dairy goat and dairy shows, among other activities.