Best in show at the 4-H Dog Show |

Best in show at the 4-H Dog Show

Christine Ina Casillas
Abbe Batten and her Golden Retriever, Sunny, begin their exercises during the Eagle County Fair 4-H dog show Sunday afternoon.

The 4-H Dog Show at the Eagle County Fairgrounds isn’t just about obedience among dogs and owners but about learning the ropes of handling animals.

“The kids need to learn what to do with the dogs,” said Eagle resident Tom Atkinson. “It’s not just dog obedience, it’s more kid obedience.”

The obedience class for the 4-H groups was broken up into sub-novice A, B and C; novice A and B and graduate novice A and B.

Yet while the dogs and their owners entered the arena for the ring exercises, they also had to withstand the “sit,” “stay” and “stay down” exercises. But for some of the most unruly pups, these exercises were somewhat difficult.

“All of the exercises were doing is just basic obedience that you would expect from a household pet,” said Eagle County resident Karen Guzik. “They’re not allowed to talk to their dogs at all or give them directions while doing the obedience courses.”

Sunday, about 15 4-Hers and their furry friends danced and pranced around the livestock pavilion for the 4-H Dog Show at the 2003 Eagle County Fair and Rodeo.

“A lot of the kids who were in the show for the first time did really well for the sub-novice course,” Gulik said.

However, some of the kids and parents thought the show would be cancelled after Jenny Wood, the 4-H coordinator, received a call from a Denver judge exclaiming that there was a time schedule conflict.

Gulik stepped up to plate.

“I show Burmese mountain dogs in conformation and obedience,” she said. “We’ve been working on agility, as well. I’ve done all of this stuff but I’ve never been a judge. And it was fun to do this side of it.”

Generally, she said, dogs are shown before three judges with three qualifying scores. The winners succeeds all three without failing any of the exercises.

But the day was mostly about the learning experience.

Eagle resident Jamie Mann, 13, started training for the obedience classes in May.

“She’s learned so much already, and for only doing is for such a short time,” said her mother, Wendy Mann. “Our dog is such a pet, so he needs to learn the obedience part of things.

“That’s the goal (Jamie’s) working on with him to get him ready for next year.”

The 8-year-old golden retriever sat silently on the floor, which Mann said was a relief.

“He’s really relaxed right now,” she said. “We were a little afraid to bring him around other dogs because we’re not sure how well he is at socializing skills. That’s another thing we need to work on with him – socializing.

“He’s definitely not show ready yet.”

Pete Moore, 12, a third-year 4-Her in the dog project, was the grand champion of obedience last year.

This year, he was showing a new puppy with the hopes of finishing just as well as last year.

Most of the competitors said they were nervous about the show at all.

“I think I did OK in the ring,” said Eagle County resident Abbe Batton, 13. “But I did a lot better at the practice show. Sunny did a lot better at the practice show than just now.”

Others attended the show just to see the dogs and to pass away the time.

“I’m just here watching while my sons are on the rides,” said Eagle-Vail resident Sharon Thompson. “But we just got a new puppy, so I’m also preparing for what’s to come.”

Christine Ina Casillas can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607 or at

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