The kids and the dogs come in all ages and sizes, but some of the benefits of 4-H dog training accrue to both, including patience, safety and good citizenship.
Dozens of dogs and their eager owners gathered in the 4-H arena on Monday morning at the Vigo County Fair to show off what they had been working on in the 4-H Dog Club.¬†
An obedience and agility demonstration was held in front of a crowd made up of friends, family and dog enthusiasts.
Dogs were led through the agility course that included jumps, a walking bridge and a tunnel. Several dogs that were new to the program took a little more convincing to complete some of the obstacles.
After the agility course, the owners showed how well behaved the dogs were by performing moves that are common in the dog training world.
Camryn Wilkey and her Schnauzer, Jack, won the grand champion award.
One of the more experienced dogs was Coe, a Chihuahua mix owned by 14-year-old Trinity Miranda. She has been participating in the 4-H Dog Club for five years, and Coe has been her partner for four of them.¬†
After her first, year the dog she began the club with died in an accident, so she adopted Coe from the local Humane Society.¬†‚ÄúMy first dog died because she would not come and she got run over by a car, so it‚Äôs important to me that Coe will listen,‚ÄĚ Miranda said.
Coe came from a home where he was abused prior to being rescued by the Miranda family, so the obedience training was more difficult, Miranda said.
Miranda‚Äôs 12-year-old sister Sophia Miranda participated in the club for the first time this year with her rescue dog, a Labrador mix named Banta.
‚ÄúSince dogs are such a big part of our lives, people like to come to see what the kids have trained the dogs to do,‚ÄĚ said Sue Pfrank, who volunteers to lead the 4-H Dog Club.
Pfrank and Jan Campbell have been in charge of the club for over 25 years and are personally responsible for generations of good dog owners.
Tanner Gillan finished his second year of the club with his rescue dog, a mastiff and bull mix named Hooch.
‚ÄúThe club is fun and I get to teach my dog new things, and I get to meet new people every year,‚ÄĚ Gillan said.
While the classes leading up to the competition aren‚Äôt always easy, the dogs and kids both benefit.
‚ÄúThe kids get real-life experience in sticking with something even when it‚Äôs hard or frustrating,‚ÄĚ Pfrank said.