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Baker County Fair goes to the dogs
By LISA BRITTON
Of the Baker City Herald
Sam Galvan was really looking forward to his first 4-H dog show.
He just needed a dog.
Galvan's own canine, who he'd worked with for six months, came into heat at the last minute, so he thought it best not to mix her in with the dogs at the show.
"I was kind of upset," said Galvan, 11.
But his grandma and aunt, Frances and Lily Raabe, weren't about to let him give up.
They let him borrow a dog.
So on Tuesday night, Galvan entered the showmanship ring for the first time with a dog he'd never worked with.
"We thought he needed the experience. We wanted to get him out there," Frances said. "He had the guts to do it I'm proud of him."
Galvan wasn't too flustered with the last-minute change.
"It's fun," he said after the junior showmanship class. "I thought I'd be a little more nervous."
Galvan joined 29 Baker County 4-H'ers on Tuesday night for the annual dog show held at Leo Adler field.
The four participating clubs were: Top Dogs, Seeing is Believing, Burnt River Barkers and the Keating K-Nines.
The dog show measured up to more than just good-looking dogs as the 4-H'ers put their canines through the paces in obedience and showmanship classes.
Obedience is judged on the dog's skill level, and the canines only advance after earning a certain number of points, said Burnt River leader Diana Smith.
The skills include reacting to the handler's commands, completing figure-8s, sitting each time the handler stops, and long sits (stay for a minute) and long downs (stay for three minutes).
Sometimes it takes the dogs awhile to catch on.
"Our Jack Russell (terrier) has been in novice for four or five years. She always runs out of the ring," Smith smiled. "You come to the realization that some dogs have limits."
Showmanship, on the other hand, is based on the handler's skills and knowledge about their dogs.
"It's actually testing the ability of the child," Smith said.
The showmanship judge evaluates grooming of the child and dog, how they handle the canine, and how well they answer questions about the breed, body parts and feeding schedule.
"I always find out who feeds the dog," said judge Ann Dickerson of Corvallis.
Lori Hines from Pendleton judged the obedience classes.
Some dogs tend to favor one class over the other.
BJ Stalder's 4-H dog, a silver schnauzer named Beau, doesn't place high in obedience, she said, but he's great in showmanship.
"He has an attitude. He just loves to show off and prance around," she laughed.
This is Stalder's fifth and final year in 4-H, and Beau has been with her since the beginning.
"I started with him and I'm going to end with him," she said.
Along the way, they've both learned quite a bit, she said, and the dog has matured from his frisky puppy years.
"He was really mean. He bit my leader," Stalder said.
This progression is one of the largest advantages to 4-H, especially the obedience training, said Dee James, dog superintendent and Top Dogs leader.
"Any dog can use that," she said.
Don't have a child to take your dog to 4-H meetings? James said all owners have to do is ask a 4-H-aged neighbor if they're interested.
Then the 4-H'er can share the tips for training with the owners.
"You need to train the people how to train the dog," James said.
Plus, dog 4-H is a bit more accessible for the general population, she said.
"We have a lot of kids whose yard isn't big enough for a sheep or a pig, but nearly everyone has a household pet."
The program has no preferences regarding pureblooded canines, either.
"I'd be happier if every one of these dogs were from the pound. It'd be one more dog that got to live and got some training," James said.