The 4-H and FFA Dog Show was hosted Monday morning the Missouri State Fair in the Mathewson Exhibition Center with participants traveling from across the state to compete in various events.
According to 4-H and FFA Dog Show Superintendent Amy Hoerrmann, 64 dogs were registered in the competition with a total of 186 entries. Participants could compete in obedience, showmanship, and rally, each with different classes ranging in experience and age. Twenty-one classes were represented in Monday’s events.
“Showmanship they’re judging…they’re trying to determine which kid is representing their breed and their dog to the best of their abilities. Obedience and rally, it is the dog's intelligence. Is the dog minding? Is it heeling and sitting? That kind of stuff,” she explained.
Rally is more physical and allows participants to go through a course of stations with the dog at heel position without waiting for the judge's orders. Dogs are guided around the course doing different turns and jumping over a small hurdle. Dogs can either be on leash or off leash depending on their level. Rally was a popular event, with many participants saying it was their favorite.
“I think I like rally a little more, but they’re both fun. You kind of do it on your own instead of having the judge tell you what to do and it’s faster. You get to do different things,” said Aurdey Frizzell, 13, of Laclede, who was showing her dog, Sugar.
Brigid Woods, of Fair Grove, also said rally was her favorite event, partly because she thought it was her Australian Shepard Rose’s favorite too.
An event only the human participants compete in is dog bowl, a written test that quizzes the participants over all types of dog-related knowledge. They took the test throughout the first half of the competition with the top eight in each division competing in a live version of it later in the day.
Competitors said they got into the competitions for a number of reasons. Emily Turpin, 16, of Bucklin, has been showing dogs for eight years and got into the sport after watching her sister participate. She showed three dogs in the event; one in showmanship and all three in obedience and rally.
Harper Rowell, 12, of Bolivar, has been showing her dog, Ava, a spaniel breed, for three years. She began doing the shows because her mom told her she had to if she wanted to get a dog, but she also did it because it sounded fun.
“I do all of the ones that I can get into. (My favorite) is showmanship. Ava does the best at it and she’s bred for it. That or agility,” said Rowell.
Hoerrmann said the event teaches participants hard work and discipline. She said all of the participants are hard workers and it is not an easy 4-H project for someone to choose.
“It teaches them a lot of self-discipline, a lot of prioritizing and definitely hard work because training a dog is not easy. It is a lot of work, every day, all summer long. These kids that are out here, the winners especially in obedience really, they spend hours upon hours a week doing nothing but training,” said Hoerrmann.
“It’s not an easy project. A lot of these animals you can go out and wash them and just feed them take them to the show ring and they’re all right, but not dogs. It’s a lot of work.”
Many of the participants spend hours a week during the summer attending classes with their dogs and working with them on their own. Rowell and Turpin said they work with their dogs every day.
“(It’s) a lot of hard work. I worked a lot at home. I usually work about 30 minutes to an hour each day. At least 30 minutes with each dog and I have three so it takes a while,” said Turpin.
All of the participants agreed the hardest part is the amount of time spent practicing and getting their dogs ready for competition. Rowell said one time-consuming thing she has to do with her dog Ava is maintaining her fur, saying it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours.
Turpin said the training was challenging because each dog was different and took different work.
“It takes a while to teach these dogs certain things. Some things were really easy to teach my dogs and then I’ll get another dog and it can be frustrating because your other dog it was so easy to train them and then you get this new one and it’s like, ‘Oh my goodness they don't know anything,’” Turpin said.
Despite all of the hard work, the kids still participate in the event because they genuinely enjoy it.
“I really enjoy it. I enjoy the time with my dogs. You get good dogs out of it too,” Turpin said. “People compliment how good your dogs are, how well behaved they are. It’s really nice to hear that.”