Young handlers train their dogs in preparation for the county 4-H show
While most 4-H’ers will be showing their animals at the county fair next week, the dog project has already finished its competition.
Members in the dog project had their judging this past Saturday. One night earlier in the week they were busy preparing on the Dodge County Fairgrounds for their dog show by practicing obedience and showmanship.
Shannan Quam, an adult volunteer with the dog project, quizzed the 4-H members about their project in an effort to get them ready for showmanship. “I’m trying to calm their nerves and give them last minute touch-ups for Saturday,” Quam said. “I want to test their knowledge and make them think a little harder.”
She focused on questions related to their knowledge of the breed of dog, including health concerns for the animal. Some of the advanced members need to know about heart rate, pulse and describing parasites, according to Quam. “The deal breaker between placement in showmanship is who can answer the tougher questions,” she explained.
There are about 20 members in the dog project.
Showing dogs has been a “family affair” for Quam, who is a former 4-H member and showed a variety of dogs for many years. “People were dropping off dogs at our farm left and right. Sometimes we had 10 dogs at one time,” Quam recalls. “We took any random dog that showed up at our farm, and we made state champions out of them,” she said, adding it’s not necessary to have a purebred to become champion.
Quam is now limited to three dogs because she lives in town. She has an English bulldog, French bulldog and a Shitzu. “I’ve been a bulldog lover for a number of years,” she said.
She has continued to help out with the project as her daughter, Olivia, is now in 4-H. As she assists with the dog project, Quam enjoys helping out the 4-H members to make sure they gain confidence in being able to handle their dogs.
“It’s fun to see their hard work shine through,” Quam said. “They are smiles and appreciate all our hard work that we put into them,” she added.
Other adult 4-H volunteers for the dog project are Quam’s mother, Rhonda Weis, and Sonja Kitzerow.
After Saturday’s show, the top 4-H members move onto the State Dog Show, which is held at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in late September. The show is not part of the state fair.
The winning handlers and their dogs will continue training a couple times a week until the state show.