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4-H Dog Show

Tasha & Kiah (a Mini Aussie) in ObedienceSeptember 26th and 27th was the Minnesota State 4-H Dog Show at the Fairgrounds. I went for a portion of both days and watched some agility and obedience classes. Tasha is the daughter of a dear family friend, and while just shy of 17 years old, she's quite the little trainer. Her Aussie, Kiah, is 27 months old and this year they worked together to win a bunch of awards:

  • blue (award of excellence) in elementary agility
  • blue in obedience - graduate beginner
  • blue in obedience - four-dog team
  • blue in showmanship - open
Now, keep in mind these four classes occurred over a span of 2 days, in the heat of the September sun (well, agility anyway!) and both handler and dog were surrounded by a plethora of people and dogs all weekend.

Mini Aussie Jumps in Agility CompetitionUntil this show, I'd never seen a live agility competition, and it's pretty cool to watch. The dogs have to perform a pattern containing all the requisite obstacles and it's the handler's job to direct them throughout their timed course. They have to leap over jumps, climb an A-frame, scoot through a couple of shoots, and lie still for 5 seconds atop a small table in the middle of the course. Try stopping a running dog in the middle of their excitement, make them lie motionless and tell me how it goes!

Tasha & Kiah (a Mini Australian Shepherd) Executing Obedience Pattern In obedience classes, the trainers take their dogs through a series of on- and off-leash steps such as heeling, recall, stand-for-exam and sit- and down-stays. While on leash, the dogs must pace their owners, stop when they stop (and sit down), not pull on the leash and always remain attentive to their handler.

Miniature Aussie: Recall in Obedience For the off-leash portion, the dog waits in one corner of the arena while the handler moves to the other, and upon recall (the "come" cue) the dog must proceed directly to the handler and sit - straight! - in front of them. They then must also stand for the judge's exam - not sit, not lie down - while their handler moves ~15 feet away.

The final part of the class is the hardest...with 7 other handlers and dogs in the arena, the handler must put his/her dog in a sit- or down-stay and walk ~20 feet away for a timed judging. I was amazed that these 8 dogs didn't MOVE from their positions amongst strange people, sights, sounds and most of all, other dogs in close proximity.

I was super-proud of my family friend - and her dog - and was only a TAD nostalgic and jealous that when I was in 4-H, we didn't have much of a dog program. I've helped Tasha with Kiah's training - just some simple operant conditioning training tips here and there - but the amount of work she's put in is testament to her dedication to dog training. These kids are so lucky - at 16 years of age, they're so much farther than I am in my own training and they'll only get better!

Congrats, Tasha!!! Tasha & Kiah