Hard work pays off for kids at the 4-H Routt County Fair Dog Show Tuesday | SteamboatToday.com

Hard work pays off for kids at the 4-H Routt County Fair Dog Show Tuesday

— Horses neighing, kids playing on the sidelines, the aroma of tasty barbecue wafting through the air — it's hard to be a dog and not get distracted at the Routt County Fair’s 4-H Dog Show.

"Do you remember that day when you just didn't quite feel like doing your homework?" said Cathy Shryock, 4-H dog leader who teaches weekly obedience classes. "Dogs are just like us. … They have days that they love you with all their heart, and they will do everything you ask. And then, there are other days when it's a challenge for them to work. They have their sluggish and off days too."

Dog owners felt the pressure Tuesday as each attempted to get their dogs to stand still during the intermediate novice showmanship portion of the competition.

"It was really difficult because she (Jazzy) wasn't listening at times," said Patti Love, who was showing her dog, Jazzy, for the first year in the show. "I've been preparing her with training since the first night I had her last year, but there are times when it gets to a point that she decides listening is not ideal."

Jazzy is one year old this week, and both canine and owner have learned a lot preparing for the fair.

During the competition, each competitor is quizzed about the origins of their dog's breed, the location of the dog's stifle and other canine-specific facts they must learn as members of the 4-H program.

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"There is more to it than just feed and walking their dog," Shyrock said. "I love watching the kids learn that they can have a new bond with their dog that they never even thought they could."

Preparing for and caring for a dog on their own teaches these kids a new understanding and appreciation for the animal.

"This experience has taught me that you can have a companion, even if it's a different species, and that you should never judge them by what you hear, because they each have their own personality," Love said.

For Love and Jazzy, they may not take home a blue ribbon, but they acquired a different kind of reward.

I feel like we've accomplished a lot," Love said. "I've realized that having a dog and having her be well-mannered here is good enough. It's not about winning for me this year; maybe next year, but this is great for us this year."

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email adwyer@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1