State 4-H Youth Dog Show Wows Watchers & Teaches Life-Long Lessons
Damon Miller (352) 846-0996
TAMPA-Furry friends and fun are what it’s all about, say kids participating in the State 4-H Youth Dog Show at the Florida State Fair. But parents and organizers think that kids who train dogs walk away with far more than just the ability to show off in front of judges and win ribbons. Self-confidence, responsibility and knowledge are just a few of the side benefits kids get from training a dog.
Eighty-nine youth ages 8-18 participated in the show last weekend. Classes included agility, showmanship, open lead and obedience. A third of them also entered the Florida State Fair’s Champions program, which rewards young people for educational achievement with savings bonds. It was the first year that dog show participants could qualify for the Champions program, which began in 1998 in the fair’s livestock categories.
“Many families today have dogs, which makes this a very accessible and fun 4-H project for a child to engage in, no matter where they live,” said Damon Miller, assistant dean for 4-H youth development programs at the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida.
Today’s 4-H’ers are more likely to pound the pavement than a cowpath. Miller said that the 4-H program, which is traditionally agriculturally-based, has branched out into suburbia. Less than 4 percent of the 298,000 kids involved in 4-H in Florida live on farms. “Sometimes people think that they have to own livestock, like a cow, to be in 4-H and to participate in the fair, and that’s not true,” said Miller.
Take for example, sixth-grader Ami Berg of Oviedo. The 12 year-old does not live on a farm, but she loves training her two terriers Spot and Pongo to strut their stuff during Pawprints 4-H Club meetings. She received first places in the intermediate off lead and intermediate junior showmanship categories, as well as second in advanced junior showmanship.
“I used to be shy but now I’m not,” said Berg, with a beaming grin while waiting for her turn in the limelight at the show. Her mother says participating in the 4-H dog project is valuable. “Feeling like she does well in a competition has improved her confidence. It gives her something to be proud of,” said her mother Lori Berg.
A lot goes into getting ready for the show, with pets requiring training and care on a daily basis. The Berg family goes to club meetings together, but it’s up to Ami to practice with the dogs on her own time. She says that she does it because it’s fun and the dogs are very smart, which makes them easier to train.
Learning mixed with fun is a winning combination for kids, say parents. “It’s given him a respect for animals and he’s developed a bond with the dog,” said Lex Hutton, father of Auggie Hutton, 8, who competed with his dog Tucker in the basic junior showmanship, basic obedience and beginning agility classes. The Huttons live in Riverview in Hillsborough County. “What he learns now will carry over into his relationships with people, he said.”
Although Auggie is still a little too short to reach the family’s dog food box, he can give Tucker baths, take him for walks and help care for him. “Tucker’s very loveable and he gets along with other dogs,” said Auggie, who received a white ribbon and did not place in the competition, but was pleased with his performance.
“We celebrate the success of those who do well in a competition like this one, but only a few young people can win any given event,” said Miller. “However, everyone who participates can gain skills that help in the game of life. Some of our greatest victories in youth development are not recognized with trophies.”
Photo 1: Furry Friends Teach Lifelong Lessons
Auggie Hutton, 8, of Riverview in Hillsborough County, relaxes with his dog Tucker after the State 4-H Youth Dog Show at the Florida State Fair in Tampa. Hutton received a white ribbon and said he had fun. Parents and organizers from the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences say that the event teaches kids lessons that last far beyond the show ring, like responsibility, discipline and respect for others.
Photo 2: Getting Ready for the Show
A member of the Pawprints 4-H Club, Ami Berg, 12, of Oviedo in Seminole County, gets a helping hand with her ponytail from her mother, Lori Berg, before the State 4-H Youth Dog Show at the Florida State Fair. Parents and faculty from the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences say that the event teaches kids lessons that last far beyond the show ring, like responsibility, discipline and respect for others.
STATE 4-H YOUTH DOG SHOW RESULTS
JUNIORS DIVISION (ages 8-12)
Juniors-Beginning Agility Class 1rst-Ami Berg, Seminole County 1rst-Emily Boling, Hillsborough County 1rst-Ashley Rahn, Hillsborough County 2nd-Clayton Cash, Hillsborough County 2nd-Ashley Jones, Sarasota County 3rd-Andree Beavers, Hillsborough County 3rd-Ron Loveall, Hillsborough County 4th-Erin Buchanan, Manatee 4th-Angela Canessa, Hillsborough County
Juniors-Basic Junior Showmanship Class 1rst-Ashley Clayton, Sarasota County 2nd-Clayton Cash, Sarasota County 3rd-Ashley Jones, Sarasota County 4th-Sara Richmond, Seminole County
Juniors-Intermediate Junior Showmanship Class 1rst-Ami Berg, Seminole County 2nd-Mark Staton, Hillsborough County 3rd-Madison Coker, Manatee County 4th-Barbara Helfrick, Manatee County
Juniors-Advanced Junior Showmanship Class 1rst-Carl Alford, Hillsborough County 2nd-Ami Berg, Seminole County
Juniors-Basic Obedience Class 1rst-Julianna Harvin, Brevard County 2nd-Ashley Jones, Sarasota County 2nd-Justin Thompson, Sarasota County 3rd-Andrea Beavers, Hillsborough County 4th-Amanda Squitieri, Hillsborough County
Juniors-Sub-Novice A Class 1rst-Angela Canessa, Hillsborough County 2nd-Barbara Helfrick, Manatee County 3rd-John Hodges, Sarasota County 4th-Wendy Shawver, Hillsborough County
Juniors-Sub-Novice B Class 1rst-Carl Alford, Hillsborough County
Juniors-Elementary Off Lead Class 1rst-Wendy Shawver, Hillsborough County 1rst-Mark Staton, Hillsborough County 3rd-Sarah Richmond, Seminole County 4th-Shannon McCune, Pinellas County
Juniors-Intermediate Off Lead Class 1rst- Ami Berg, Seminole County
Junior (ages 8-11) High Point Award Carl Alford, Hillsborough County SENIORS DIVISION (ages 13 and up)
Seniors-Basic Obedience Class 1rst-Michelle Currier, Collier County 2nd-Brittany Ferrell, Bay County 3rd-Brian McElfresh, Hillsborough County 4th-Mindy Collins, Bay County
Seniors-Open Obedience Class 1rst-Kristin Brown, Polk County 2nd-Weslie Alford, Hillsborough County 3rd-Eric Nadal, Hillsborough County 4th-Weslie Alford, Hillsborough County
Seniors-Beginning Agility Class 1rst-Kristin Brown, Polk County, 24-inch 2nd-Shannon DeForge, Collier County, 24-inch 3rd-Brittany Ferrell, Bay County, 12-inch 3rd-Robin Lyness, Polk County, 24-inch 4th-Ashley Freemond, Polk County, 12-inch 4th-Melissa Gordon, Hillsborough County, 8-inch
Seniors-Elementary Agility Class 1rst-Allison Eckhardt, Hillsborough County, 16-inch 1rst-Bobby Nadal,Hillsborough County, 12-inch 2nd-Alisha Amundson, Seminole County 2nd-Lisa Chesire, Sarasota County 3rd-Mindy Collins, Bay County 3rd-Ashley Freemond, Polk County 4th-Serissa Thompson, Sarasota County
Seniors-Intermediate Agility Class 1rst-Danielle Milner, St. Lucie County 1rst-Katy Murphey, Hillsborough County 1rst-Eric Nadal, Hillsborough County 1rst-Renee Pardee, Seminole County 1rst-Alicia Pinkston, Hillsborough County 2nd-Katy Murphey, Hillsborough County
Seniors-Advanced Agility Class 1rst-Eric Nadal, Hillsborough County 1rst-Sandra Hiemenz, Seminole County 2nd-Sandra Hiemenz, Seminole County 2nd-Jessica Rothering, Hillsborough County
Seniors-Novice A Class 1rst-Shannon DeForge, Collier County 2nd-Danielle Milner, St. Lucie County 3rd-Jessica Rothering, Hillsborough County 4th-Kayla Brock, Polk County
Seniors-Novice A-Obedience Class 1rst-Shannon DeForge, Collier County 2nd-Danielle Milner, St. Lucie County 3rd-Jessica Rothering, Hillsborough County 4th-Kayla Brock, Polk County
Seniors-Sub-Novice A Class 1rst-Serissa Thompson, Sarasota County 2nd-Ryan Coy, Citrus County 3rd-Ashley Freemond, Polk County 4th-Jody Cantwell, Sarasota County
Seniors-Basic Junior Showmanship Class 1rst-Faith Hawks, Indian River County 2nd-Ashley Freemond, Polk County 3rd-Lisa Chesire, Sarasota County 4th-Michelle Currier, Collier County
Seniors-Intermediate Junior Showmanship Class 1rst-Alasyn-Jeri Muir, Sarasota County 2nd-Danielle Milner, St. Lucie County 3rd-Kellie Coker, Manatee County 4th-Robin Lyness, Polk County
Seniors-Advanced Junior Showmanship Class 1rst-Jessica Rothering, Hillsborough County 2nd-Sandra Hiemenz, Seminole County 3rd-David Gaskins, Hillsborough County 4th-Weslie Alford, Hillsborough County
Senior (ages 12-18) High Point Award Ashley Freemond, Polk County
Champion Youth Program Winners
1rst-Jessica Rothering, Hillsborough County, received a $1,000 savings bond
2nd-Emily Boling, Hillsborough County, received a $750 savings bond
3rd-Allison Eckhardt, Hillsborough County, received a $500 savings bond
4th-Ashley Freemond, Polk County, received a $250 savings bond
Alden Hilliker Challenge Trophy-awarded annually to the county with the most points in the show, in honor of the late Dr. Alden Hilliker Grand-Hillsborough County Reserve-Sarasota County
Phyllis White Showmanship Award-first place winner of each showmanhip class competes for this award, established in honor and memory of Phyllis White Jessica Rothering-Hillsborough County
Notes: In all junior and senior classes, first through fourth place receive premiums: 1st-$20, 2nd-$16, 3rd-$12, 4th-$8. There are multiple placements in agility classes because dogs are judged according to size.
Check out Florida 4-H Online & Are You Into It? A Volunteer Program for Kids Who Care