No doggone excuses accepted at this year’s Routt County Fair |

No doggone excuses accepted at this year’s Routt County Fair

Norah Pietras gets a kiss from Poncho during the Routt County Fair dog show Tuesday morning. The show is the highlight of the summer for members of the 4-H dog program.
John F. Russell

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View the 2014 Routt County Fair schedule here.

— When it comes to the Routt County Fair’s dog show, there are no excuses.

This year, border collie Carly proved that to the judges.

On Tuesday, Carly was back in the arena next to her owner Jewel Vreeman at the Routt County Fair despite the fact that she gave birth to three puppies two weeks ago.

“She’s been doing really well even with the puppies,” Vreeman said. “I was very worried. Once she got in the arena for the showmanship class, she was just very focused.”

This is Vreeman’s sixth year in the 4-H dog program but her first with Carly. For four years, she’d shown with Celina. She’s owned Carly the past two years but just started training her last week.

“Work with her every day,” Vreeman said. “She comes with me everywhere.”

Vreeman also is in steer and horse programs, but she thinks the dog program offers her something more.

“I do steer and horse also, but I really like dogs. They are so smart,” Vreeman said. “There is so much you can do with them. They are just so smart, and they are a lot of fun to work with.”

It’s that love of working with dogs that Cathy Shryock, who leads the 4-H dog program in Routt County, is hoping to teach the students in her program.

“We start working with the dogs outside in June,” Shryock said. “But the program really begins in March and April when we work inside without the dogs. That’s where the kids learn body parts, diseases, vaccinations, dog types and all those kind of things. We brought in some speakers this year, and the kids learned how to train a service dog and how to train a retriever for hunting. They get some actual learning experience that they can’t get when the dog is around.”

The program meets twice per month through the winter months, and then in the summer the 4-H members and dogs train once per week outside.

Christine Pietras was at the fairgrounds Tuesday to watch her daughter Norah show the family’s dog Poncho.

“I think it’s so good for her self-confidence,” Pietras said. “She has a sister who does pigs, and we really thought that would be so great if they both had a pig — it would be so easy to have two pigs, but she wasn’t interested.”

It seemed like Norah was more interested in training the family dog. Pietras said it’s been good for Norah and good for Poncho, as well.

“His loyalty has always been to the adults in the family,” Pietras said. “Poncho would not listen to her, but now he does.”

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966

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