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Friday, 24 July 2015 12:00

Rock County Fair 2015: Dogs show their stuff during pre-fair judging

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Courtney Sigmond, Rock Valley 4-H, gets the attention of her Standard poodle Ronan, left, before sending him on his route in the rally open class, above, prejudged on June 27, at the Rock County Fairgrounds in Janesville. Courtney Sigmond, Rock Valley 4-H, gets the attention of her Standard poodle Ronan, left, before sending him on his route in the rally open class, above, prejudged on June 27, at the Rock County Fairgrounds in Janesville. Dan Plutchak/staff

JANESVILLE -- Long before the Rock County 4-H Fair dates are written in on personal calendars and circled with a colored Sharpie, the dog project members are busy putting their pets through their paces.

"We start in March and meet every Thursday," explains Project Leader Katie Becker.

There are about 35 youngsters in the project, including two of Becker’s three children --  Zea and Wesley show their family poodles. Florence, the youngest Becker, is in Cloverbuds -- sort of a pre 4-H Club. She can’t compete until she is eight years old. 

This is Becker’s first year as project leader and superintendent, but she jumped in with both feet.

"I got some professional trainers to come in and work with us and that worked out really neat," she said. "Some of the Junior 4-H leaders worked with them and the newer students."

(Rock County Fair 2015 preview HERE)

Because there are so many projects to judge, some are scheduled ahead of the fair itself. That includes dog obedience which was held at the Craig Center on the fairgounds June 27.

There are two parts to the show: obedience and rally obedience. In obedience, the dog must demonstrate their ability to follow the regular commands of "heel,""sit," "down,""stay" and "come."

In the rally portion of the obedience event, the dog’s handler directs the dog through a course that has been mapped out by the judge. Signage tells the handler how to move the dog through the course. 

Courtney Sigmond of Rock Valley     4-H put her dog Ronan in the rally obedience class. Her mom Jennifer was watching on the sidelines. "They’re doing pretty good," she said.

Jim Perry was the judge for the obedience show on June 27. "This is so much fun," he said. Perry judges for the Rock and Jefferson county 4-H shows.

"We work really hard on the basic commands,"said Becker. "The kids and the dogs have to be a team."

"Sometimes things go wrong," Perry said, "but the kids always give 110 percent."

Carly Treinen is one of the more advanced members in the dog project. She started showing as a member of the Badger 4-HClub, now she participates through the Janesville Parker FFA Club.

"She’s very dedicated and shows her dog Moses in agility,"said Becker.

As a Jr. leader, Treinen helped the professional trainers with the rest of the club members and their dogs.

Trainers included Bridget Davies of JanesvilleDogTrainer.com; Obey-U Training Academy of Edgerton and Teresa Plowman. 

"It was wonderful just watching the kids develop their dogs and building that relationship," said Plowman, who shows her own dogs professionally in obedience and showmanship classes.

"Showmanship is when you demonstraight how well you handle your dog," she explains. Plowman is starting to train her own dogs in agility and herding, so she is looking forward to having agility added to the dog project.

Treinen is planning to work specifically on the agility portion of the classes.

An agility course is a timed event in which the dogs must navigate a variety of obstacles include tunnels, weave poles, teeter totters and more -- all of which require additional training.

"I never set out to do agility, we sort of fell into it," Treinen said. Her  dog is a sheltie mix, a medium size dog with some natural herding ability.

"Herding dogs are some of the smartest and most agile of dogs, so they respond well to having a job to do," said Treinen. "But any breed and size can do it."

   Treinen saw the sport on TV and thought it looked like fun. She began by accumulating her own equipment. Then, she started competing in agility when she thought her dog was ready. In June of last year, she competed at the  Canine Performance Event’s National competition and took sixth place out of a field of hundreds. 

"Training my dog myself got me interested in training other dogs, so I took the leap," she said. "I love it."

Spectators will have a chance to see how the dog project members have done -- the Dog Showmanship class is held at 9a.m., Saturday,  Aug. 1 in the Craig Center.

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