Weld County Pre-Fair Dog Show showcases bonds between 4-Hers and their dogs | VailDaily.com

Weld County Pre-Fair Dog Show showcases bonds between 4-Hers and their dogs

Katarina Velazquez
kvelazquez@greeleytribune.com

Sydney Baumgartner showcased two of her closest family members in a competition Sunday morning in Greeley. It's not what it sounds like.

Those two family members weren't siblings, but rather her dogs, Ally and Jelly Belly, and they earned Baumgartner some first-place ribbons at the Weld County Pre-Fair's annual Dog Show. Baumgartner was one of 38 contestants in the show, which took place in the Exhibition Building at Island Grove Regional Park, 501 N. 14th Ave. in Greeley.

The building was filled with all sorts of dog breeds Sunday, ranging from corgis to German shepherds to boxers. Some still had their puppy paws while others boasted gray fur around their droopy eyes.

Pretty dogs, smart dogs

According to Denise Miller, key leader for the 4-H program, the contestants, who were ages 8 through 18, had the opportunity to enter their dogs in the showmanship, rally and obedience shows. Each of those shows showcased a different skill set for both the contestant and their dog.

For example, judges in the showmanship competition check the dog to see how "pretty" it is to the breed's standard. Miller said if the dog has flaws in, say, its bone structure or teeth, it's up to the kid to hide those flaws if they can.

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"They need to show the best dog they can to the breed's standard," she said.

On the other hand, judge Kathy Howse said the rally and obedience events at the dog show test dogs' brains and how they listen to commands. It's more about the dog than the kid, she said, as there are obstacle courses set up that makes the kids spiral their dogs through orange cones or makes them lay down or jump.

"I have a friend who calls (showmanship) the pretty dog," Howse said. "This is the smart dog."

Finishing on top

Baumgartner said she has shown dogs for about 10 years, and it was the 18-year-old's final year of participation at the Weld Fair as a 4-H'er. What's interesting about Baumgartner is her Boston terrier, Ally, is deaf. As opposed to the typical voice commands she gives her golden retriever Jelly Belly, Baumgartner has to use hand commands to train Ally. She said she has to pay extra attention to what she's doing with her hands when she shows Ally in competitions because she doesn't want to confuse her dog.

"It was hard at first to learn," she said. "I had to be very careful."

Whatever Baumgartner is doing is working, as Ally and she only missed four of 200 points at the competition, earning them a first-place spot. Jelly Belly also helped Baumgartner get a blue ribbon.

Finishing while they're at the top, Baumgartner, Ally and Jelly Belly are going into Weld Fair retirement. Baumgartner said the moment is bittersweet, but one to remember.

"I've worked a really long time at this," Baumgartner said, "but my dogs are getting pretty old, too. It's time for all of us."

Weld County Pre-Fair

The Weld County Pre-Fair continues through July 31 at Island Grove Regional Park in Greeley.

For more information on the fair’s upcoming schedule and events, go to http://www.weldcountyfair.com.

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