Sunday, 26 September 2021
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Wipe your paws, it’s showtime

COTTONWOOD — It can be so frustrating trying to force an animal to go one way in the show ring when it’s determined to go the other way — especially when the dog outweighs you by a few pounds.

That was the experience of some youngsters Wednesday at the Idaho County Fair, as they struggled around the sawdust-carpeted floor of the Vernon Agee Building at the first day of showing, hauling their reluctant show pets behind on a leash.

Aubrey Schaff, 8, of Kamiah, pulled hard on her dog, a 4-year-old purebred black Labrador retriever, to get him to follow. But it was touch-and-go whether Schaff or the dog, Ranger, was going to win the battle.

“He’s excited,” Schaff said of Ranger. “He’s hard to handle.”

This was her first time showing her dog, and her training philosophy — “Well, you have to pull his choking collar, and then it will work” — was being mightily tested.

In the end, Schaff coaxed Ranger into the ring and managed to get him through the routine.

Although it was a challenge, Schaff said she loves her pet.

“He’s nice and he doesn’t bite,” she said.

Schaff was one of about 400 Idaho County youths participating in this week’s fair in everything from sheep showing and cake baking to specialty projects in science, gun knowledge and art.

“This year we’re seeing an increase in sewing (projects), which is great because that’s a life skill that you don’t want to see go by the wayside,” said Susie Heckman, head of the county 4-H program.

Idaho County has one of the largest numbers of youths involved in 4-H and FFA in north central Idaho, and Heckman said it has a lot to do with family traditions.

“We have a lot of kids in a 4-H club whose parents were in that club and whose parents led the club; now they lead the club. So it’s kind of a legacy thing,” she said.

Although 4-H offers a wide scope of activities for youngsters, Heckman said the traditional livestock and home economics clubs continue to thrive.

“Sometimes just the fundamental stuff doesn’t go out of style as much as you think it does, and they’re just good, solid life skills that we seem to be able to keep kids involved in.”

Jim Church, the Idaho County Extension agent, said the fair board had to make some major repairs to a couple of the buildings that were heavily damaged by a flash flood in early June.

Flood waters rushed down the street and pooled in the Schmidt building, where 4-H style revues and other shows are held.

“They had to totally tear out the carpeting and redo the Sheetrock, so there’s new carpeting and new paint in there,” Church said.

In addition, the outdoor gazebo where music was performed also was damaged in the flood and had to be torn down. It has been replaced by a band shell. Church said the majority of the fair board’s capital outlay this year went to repairing those projects.

He is looking forward to high attendance at the fair this year, in spite of the mishaps.

“I hear most of the winter crop is harvested, but they’re working on spring-seeded crops right now. So we’re hoping for a good turnout,” Church said.

Kieran Gallagher, 11, of Grangeville, was another showman who had trouble keeping his dog, a black Lab named Inka, under control in the show ring Wednesday.

“She really likes mom and dad better, and if she sees them she’ll come running to them,” Gallagher said of Inka’s misbehavior. “So she was trying to look for mom or dad in the ring, so that’s why I had some trouble.”

Despite the struggles, he was awarded a blue ribbon for his efforts.

Kathy Deyo of Orofino was the dog judge, a role she’s filled for 21 years. Deyo raises Burmese mountain dogs and has shown them in dog shows for more than 30 years.

She said as a 4-H judge she looks for a clean dog and a nicely attired child.

“You want the dog to be under control,” Deyo said. “I want them to show the dog, so I ask them to do a triangle. I’ll ask them to go around together and just follow instructions. The whole time you’re in the arena you’re showing me you have your dog under control and your dog is an obedient dog.”

Part of the goal of obedience training, she said, “is having a dog you can live with. If you have a dog that is easy to live with, it’s going to be a win-win situation for everybody. I don’t expect my dogs to be mannequins, but to be polite and listen to me and still be dogs.”


The Bark Box

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