A tail waggin’ good time: Kids, pets strut their stuff at 4-H dog show


BROWNSTOWN – Being her first year in the Jackson County 4-H Dog Show, Roxy, a chocolate lab, may have had a slight case of stage fright Saturday morning.

Or it could have been she just wanted more treats.

Either way, 10-year-old Lauren Schepman, of Seymour was proud of the work she and Roxy had put into practicing for the show.

As new members of the Waggin’ Pals 4-H Club, Lauren has learned more about the responsibilities of being a pet owner and has been able to teach Roxy several commands.

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In all, there are around 20 4-H members in Waggin’ Pals. The club meets once a week beginning in the spring to train with club sponsors Carol Newberry and Suzanne Steltenpohl.

The annual dog show is always held a week before the fair, because normally, dogs aren’t allowed at the fairgrounds during fair week.

But this year, the club will perform a special demonstration showing off obedience, agility and showmanship skills in a routine set to music at 7:30 p.m. July 25 in the new show arena. That way, fairgoers have an opportunity to see how much time and effort club members have put into working with their dogs, Newberry said.

“The kids are really excited,” Newberry said. “It’s going to make them feel like they are more a part of the fair just like the kids that show pigs or cattle are.”

During Saturday’s dog show at the Jackson County Fairgrounds, Lauren and Roxy competed in the obedience division demonstrating the skills they have acquired this year.

“I knew she’d be great at this, because she already knows how to sit and lay down and stay,” she said.

Roxie can also shake hands, roll over, crawl and even speak.

The big difference between practicing at home, however, is Lauren can use treats to get Roxy to obey. Although treats are allowed during showmanship judging, they are prohibited during obedience.

But even though Roxy didn’t perform as well without treats, Lauren said it was still fun and they’ll do even better next time.

For Lauren, the experience has been a fun way to spend more time with Roxy and a great opportunity to meet and socialize regularly with other dog lovers.

“She’s made a lot of great friends being in this club,” Rachel Schepman said of her daughter. “And when she first started, Roxy just drug Lauren all over the place. Now, I look at how she’s just relaxed, and there’s other dogs around and all these people, and she’s not acting all crazy. That, in itself, is a huge accomplishment.”

Rachel said many things are challenging for Lauren, but working with Roxie is an activity she’s good at and loves to do.

Since it’s their first year in the club, Lauren and Roxy were limited in what they could enter, but Lauren said she is already excited about next year, when she plans to enter the agility and showmanship competitions too.

In agility, handlers run their dog through an obstacle course with jumps, a dog walk, a tunnel and an A-frame platform to climb.

“The two things she probably won’t have a problem with are the jumps and the tunnel,” Lauren said.

Josie Dotts, 11, of Bedford, has been a member of Waggin’ Pals for three years now. She has two dogs, Chevy, a poodle/dachshund mix and Izzy, an Australian cattle dog.

“It’s a good time to engage your dog and work with them,” she said of being in the club and participating in the dog show. “And it’s also a good time to learn about your dog and get to know them, their fears, what they don’t like, and things like that.”

They competed in all three events Saturday, but agility is their favorite.

“They get to run and they both love it,” she said.

But in order to get them to jump over the hurdles, it requires a lot of patience and even more treats.

“You just have to do it over and over again until they get it,” she said.

Showmanship is all about how the dog and handler walk together. It’s also when the judge takes a closer look at the dog, inspecting it’s teeth, paws, coat and overall health and personality.

Darren Beeler, 15, of Seymour knows when it comes to showmanship, it’s all about having that extra “pizzazz.”

That’s why he wears a suit and adds a red tie when he walks his dog Scruffy around the show ring.

Beeler knows a thing or two about showmanship. He’s been a part of the club and show for seven years, and he even placed 19th in showmanship during the Indiana State Fair last year.

The most difficult part of training a dog is getting them used to something new, he said.

But Scruffy, who is a rescue dog, seems to like all the activity and attention.

“He was so excited when we got here,” Beeler said. “I couldn’t keep my lead on him. He was just ready to go.”

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What: Waggin’ Pals 4-H Dog Club demonstration of agility, obedience and showmanship skills

Where: In the new show arena at the Jackson County Fairgrounds

When: 7:30 p.m. July 25


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