BY ED GEBERT
Times Bulletin Editor
WERT — Hogs, sheep, goats, cattle, and horses are all familiar projects
for 4-Hers in Van Wert County. Now there is a chance to bring along
man’s best friend to a 4-H meeting locally.
The newest club is for
dogs, and the 4-H leader heading it up is Donna Jones. The owner of
three shelties, Jones became involved with the 4-H program a decade ago
in Butler County.
“I started getting involved as an assistant
leader, and then I got onto the junior fair board as the advisor to the
dog program in Butler County,” she explained. “When I came up to Van
Wert, that’s what my daughter is doing right now. She’s the junior
advisor to the dog program.”
Jones held the first meeting of the Van Wert County 4-H dog club this past week and already has a handful of kids involved.
said, “Sign-ups aren’t until March, so as long as you join before
March, it’ll be fine. You have to make six meetings, but we’re going to
have two meetings a month until the end of May. Then we’re going to try
to meet every week, most weeks during June and July. We’ll take a couple
of weeks off for the state fair, so hopefully we can get some people
going to the state fair if they’d like to. But we’ll meet most weeks
during June, July and August leading up to the Van Wert County Fair.”
For Jones, 4-H and the dog program have become a big part of the lives of her daughter and herself.
enjoy the whole program, the way the 4-Hers learn responsibility and
the way they come together as a team. When my daughter was in it, the
other people in the dog club were like a family, and everyone would come
together and be so supportive,” she said.
So far no one in the
club has shown dogs before, so each member is coming in with a fresh
start. What lies ahead could be any number of activities and training
regimens. Jones said that while there will be dog training education at
every meeting, that training could also take on different aspects of
raising a dog.
She said, “We have a regular 4-H meeting where
we’ll discuss whatever business the club wants to get involved in. Then
at every meeting there will be dog training in obedience, showmanship or
confirmation and general dog care for the You and Your Dog project.”
the club continues to expand, Jones said she will be adding training in
tricks for freestyle competition or agility. There is also the Dog Bowl
competition, if enough 4-Hers are interested.
“There are so many different things you can do in the 4-H program with your dog,” Jones said.
members must be at least eight years of age by Jan. 1, 2014 and in the
third grade, or age nine to 19 on Jan. 1, 2014, to join.
need a dog. Jones noted that any dog in general good health that is more
than six months old will do. The dog does not need to be a purebred
animal, although she admitted if a participant wants to enter dog shows
outside of 4-H, a purebred may be required.
The dogs do not need
to be well-trained already, since that will be the focus of club
meetings. Nearly every dog has the potential for the program, provided
the 4-H student is willing to work at it.
“There would be very few
dogs that you wouldn’t be able to do anything with,” Jones said. “You
just have to be patient and keep working with them. Some dogs will be
more of a challenge, but if you’re willing to put in the work, there
shouldn’t be any reason why your dog can’t learn how to be a good
citizen and do some of the basic maneuvers.”
For more information about the 4-H dog club in Van Wert County, contact the Extension office at (419) 238-1214.