Obedient dogs

The heavy downpour Tuesday morning didn’t stop the 2016 Hamilton County Fair Dog Obedience show from being a success. Over 30 kids of all ages spent the majority of the morning and afternoon working with their canine companions and competing for trophies and ribbons. Despite the rolling thunder, the show went on without major problems.

Dog Obedience Superintendent and Project Leader Virgene Monthei was impressed with this year’s show, especially how the kids and dogs handled the weather conditions.

“When Mother Nature steps in it gets a little bit uncontrollable,” said Monthei. “It’s been a big trial today. The storm had a big effect on the dogs. They want to be by their owners all the time instead of staying where they’re supposed to be.”

Monthei said that the hardest part of the day was mid-morning when the thunder was the heaviest.

“During the worst part of the storm it caused the dogs to get up and move because they were scared,” said Monthei. “A lot of dogs do not like the sound of thunder or firecrackers or even guns shooting.”

Each competitor has been training their dog and attending classes each Tuesday since May for the one-day competition.

The canines compete in different classes based on their age and the age of their trainer.

“Some of the kids that are coming back with second dogs are put into a higher class because they have had the training, but the dogs are still new, so they are put into A and B categories,” said Monthei.

Monthei stressed the amount of work put in to each canine. Each child works with their animal daily. They must know what and how much their canine eats, breeding information, and health information.

“I think they become responsible pet owners and they have to work these dogs, they have to be with them everyday. I think it is a big project with a very huge learning curve,” Monthei said.

Monthei’s favorite part about the show each fair season is the connections she makes with current and past dog show competitors. Many of her former project members return to assist with the obedience show each year.

“It’s just cool to see that these kids are learning here and expanding their careers when they graduate and leave the fair,” Monthei said.

Raquel Holt, 19, was one of the many participants in this year’s Dog Obedience show. The South Hamilton graduate from Ellsworth brought her dog Davey to compete in Tuesday’s events.

Holt described her biggest challenge in preparing for the show.

“The hardest part is when you are working with them and you know that they know what to do and they just choose not to do it,” said Holt. You want to get really upset but you just have to stay really happy. I’ve learned they’ll work a lot better with you happy.”

Holt has been active in 4-H for nine years.

“My sisters were in 4-H when they were growing up so I wanted to follow in their footsteps and do a lot of the projects that they did,” said Holt.

Over the past nine years, she has participated in the dog obedience show, model horse judging, sheep show, photography, woodworking, sewing, food and nutrition, and the rabbit show.

“I just really like having fun with 4-H. It’s given me so many opportunities to meet so many great people and have leadership and communication skills developed. It’s just a really great program to get involved with.”

Holt had a hard time deciding on a favorite fair time activity.

“I really like them all. They all have different aspects to them that make them so different that I really like them,” said Holt. “I really enjoy dog obedience. Having a nine-year old dog, he’s able to do a lot of the advanced obedience commands, so it’s really fun.”

This year Holt is participating in the dog show, rabbit show, goat show, and doing two projects through FFA.

Holt is also one of the nine 2016 Hamilton County Fair Queen candidates. Holt has enjoyed getting to know her fellow candidates this week.

“It’s been really fun with all these girls,” said Holt.

Holt will be attending Iowa State University in the fall and has aspirations to be in the marching band. Holt also recently joined the National Guard and is excited for the next phase of her life.