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Sunday, May 1, 2016

4-Hers and their dogs

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Sydney Vanderhoff (above) and Makayla Gee (below) are just two of the 68 Clay County 4-Hers who are involved in dog obedience, and are among the eight individuals who participated in the American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen Program.
(Photos submitted)
Makayla Gee wanted to show something at the Clay County Fair, but livestock seemed out of the picture. Instead, she started working with her dog, a Bichon Frise named Addie.

"Makayla is a town girl; she's not a farm girl, so this is our livestock," Makayla's mom Tricia said.

The 12-year-old is among 68 Clay County 4-H members participating in the dog obedience program, and one of eight who recently took part in the American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen Program, the first time it was offered in the county.

Kathy Launderville taught the six-week course that concludes with a 10-point evaluation.

Points include sitting politely to be petted, accepting a friendly stranger, grooming, walking through a crowd, handling distractions, and supervised separation.

Such training can have everyday benefits.

"If you meet a friend who doesn't want to pet the dog, you can have control over your dog so they don't interrupt your conversation," Launderville said.

Different students have different reasons for taking the class.

"I wanted to take the dog project further and be able to go into nursing homes," seventh-grader Sydney Vanderhoff said. "I thought it would be just a better experience too, and more to do before the fair, and it doesn't hurt to have more practice to make them better."

Vanderhoff plans to take her six-year-old Blue Heeler, Maggie, to the library so youngsters can read to her with the Paws to Read program.

"I think it would be fun for both Maggie and I to have little kids read to us," Vanderhoff said.

Sixth-grader Jenna Schauer thought the class would be a good way to socialize her nine-year-old Brittany Spaniel, Haley.

"I wanted to do it because I thought it'd be a good opportunity to introduce my job to other dogs, because we don't get to do that too often," Schauer said. "Also, my dog loves people, and I want her to be well-behaved out in public and thought this would be a good way to do that."

Gee had taken Addie to visit her great-grandfather in a nursing home, which did not go as well as she would have liked.

"The class was to get her used to it," Gee said of the noises and distractions that had previously gotten the best of her canine.

Gee has been involved with dog obedience for three years and will now serve as one of two youths on the 4-H Dog Committee.

"She'll probably help with some of the classes this summer," Clay County Extension Program Coordinator Jo Engel said.

Those classes begin in June and run two times a week leading up to the Clay County Fair. Individuals interested in dog obedience, or any other 4-H activity, are encouraged to contact Clay County Extension at 262-2264 by May 10.

Mary Kacmarynski is an adult member of the 4-H Dog Committee. Her parents Bob and Colleen Speed initiated dog obedience in Clay County in 1972. Within the past 10 years, agility and rally events were added to the Clay County Fair docket, though the Iowa State Fair has yet to make those additions.

Agility tests involve a timed obstacle course and rally, which forces the owner to read posted commands and get their dog to respond on the fly.

All the activities bring dogs and owners closer together.

"There's kind of a bonding thing," Kacmarynski said.

"You learn to take care of them way better than most people probably do, and you get a really good bond with them," Vanderhoff said.

Schauer added that working with her dog has taught her to be more responsible.

"There's definitely responsibility, and being able to know what to do with your dogs and getting to spend more time with them is really important," Schauer said.

Her dog had been trained by her father Michael, which initially made it a little more difficult for Haley to respond to Jenna.

She plans to take the Canine Good Citizen Program again next summer to fine tune her pet's skills, in hopes of being able to do community service.

Launderville plans to take some of the graduates to area nursing homes, as she believes the class is "a stepping stone to becoming a therapy dog."

No matter how students use their experiences, Launderville believes the program will continue to have merit for years to come.

"I just hope we can continue this in the future," Launderville said. "I feel we can teach kids there are things they can do other than just obedience. This keeps them thinking about things they can use their dogs for and new project areas."

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they should have contests for herding dogs etc--that would be interesting and fun!

-- Posted by iowagirl on Sat, May 5, 2012, at 6:50 PM

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