Dog show provides ‘paw-fect’ day at Routt County Fair |

Dog show provides ‘paw-fect’ day at Routt County Fair

Tierney McDowell scratches Penny, an American bulldog rottweiler mix, during the obedience portion of the 4-H Dog Show on Tuesday at the Routt County Fair. McDowell and Penney earned the champion award in the intermediate showmanship class during Tuesday's event. (Photo by John F. Russell)

HAYDEN — This was Leona Thurston’s first year as a superintendent for the Dog Show at the Routt County Fair, but she is far from being a newcomer.

“It’s been awesome,” Thurston said of stepping into a new role as a group leader for the 4-H dog programs and being at the fair working as a superintendent. “It’s really cool because I competed against some of these kids last year, and now I really enjoy being able to give them advice, help them through and then see them succeed.”

Thurston grew up in 4-H showing pigs and her corgi, Paisley, at the fair. In 2020, she graduated from Steamboat Springs High School and her days as a competitor in 4-H programs came to an end.

She left the programs having a great respect for what 4-H has done for her, and after being inspired by her former program leader Cathy Shryock decided that she wanted to give back. Shryock, a longtime volunteer, had to step back this year. Thurston and fellow superintendent Lisa Guire stepped in to help out.

Lucy Wattles rewards her dog, Pippy, a McNab collie, during the obedience portion of Tuesday's 4-H Dog Show at the Routt County Fair. Wattles took home champion honors for obedience and junior showmanship. (Photo by John F. Russell)

“It’s been awesome to be able to give back,” Thurston said. “I had an amazing dog leader, Kathy (Shryock) during my years in 4-H, so being able to kind of fill that role has really been an honor.”

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Guire said she was excited to team up with Thurston, and thrilled that the two have been able to work together to keep the dog programs moving forward.

“Leona had just graduated from the 4-H program, and I’ve been training dogs for a while,” Guire said. “ … We are doing our best to try and fill her shoes, although Kathy has some big shoes to fill.”

Carleigh Klingemann adjusts the collar on her dog, Gunner, Tuesday during the showmanship portion of the 4-H Dog Show at the Routt County Fair. Klingemann and Gunner were named reserve champion in showmanship in the junior class. (Photo by John F. Russell)

This year the dog programs went back to having in-person meetings in the wake of COVID-19. The programs started a little later this spring, but Guire said it was great to be back in person. She said 4-H programs teach children about a lot more than just how to handle animals.

“They learn how to handle adversity and work under pressure, and they learn how to commit themselves to something, and they learn about their projects,” Guire said. “So as for the 4-H programs in general, I can’t say enough good things about them.”

This year, Lucy Wattles earned the title of champion in the obedience portion of the event, and Alley Kvols was named reserve champion.

Judge Terena Thomas reacts while interacting with Lukas Znamenacek during the showmanship portion of the 4-H Dog Show at the Routt County Fair. Znamenacek was reserve champion of the senior showmanship class. (Photo by John F. Russell)

The showmanship portion was divided into classes.

Kvols was crowned champion in the senior class and Lukas Znamenacek earned reserve champion; Tierney McDowell was crowned champion in the intermediate class and Erick Yeiser earning reserve champion; and Wattles was crowned champion in the junior class and Carleigh Klingemann earning reserve champion. McDowell won the rally followed by Kvols in second and Kasey Singer in third.

“I really liked the judge,” Kvols said of her favorite part of this year’s dog show. “She’s just a lot of fun, and she makes the event a lot of fun.

The fair will continue Wednesday with the 4-H/FFA poultry show starting at 8 a.m., the open poultry immediately following the 4-H show. In the afternoon the spotlight will fall on the swine at 3 p.m. starting with the breeding swine and the swine showmanship. The market swine show will immediately follows the showmanship. The swine shows have some of the largest fields of competitors during the week.

Alley Kvols trots with her dog, Sweetie, an English shepherd, during the showmanship portion of the 4-H Dog Show at the Routt County Fair. Kvols was the reserve champion in the obedience portion and champion in the senior showmanship class. (Photo by John F. Russell)

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