Happy Paws 4-H gears up for Moffat County Fair
The Moffat County Fair and 4-H programs teach youth how to work with a variety of animals, including man’s best friend.
The Happy Paws 4-H Club has 22 children ages 8 to 18 who participate with their dogs in the program from January through the end of the summer.
“It’s about teaching kids to have really good relationships with their dogs and the responsibility of dog ownership,” group leader Shelly Pinnt said.
As part of the program, youth have to keep a journal to record how they are caring for their dog. They must also learn how to manage training, grooming and any medications that their animal may need, Pinnt added.
Children register at the beginning of the year with the dog that they are going to work with throughout the program. The club meets once a week, and participants go through exercises with their dogs focused on handling, agility and obedience.
After all the work Happy Paws youth put in over the winter and spring, they get an opportunity at the Moffat County Fair to show their dogs.
During the fair, youth can compete with their dogs in obedience, showmanship and a rally performance where judges lay out a bunch of skills for the teams to perform in specific patterns.
“It’s all about how well you do and your timed performance,” Pinnt said.
Youth will start showing their dogs for the fair at 8 a.m. Aug. 9. Dogs are sanctioned differently than other animals in the fair competitions, so Happy Paws leaders are hoping the competition draws more of a crowd this year.
“We’re trying to bring more attention to the event,” Pinnt said. “Our kids work really hard all year long.”
Pinnt said there is another group in Craig, so the Happy Paws youth will get to have some competition in the Moffat County Fair.
Happy Paws gives local youth a chance to take part in 4-H and the fair using their own domestic animals, when they may not have access to working with livestock animals. Other participants may simply have the desire to work with their dogs and gain a skill set for caring for dogs.
“Fair offers a lot for kids,” Pinnt said. “There are a lot of scholarships available, and (participants) could move up to the state fair.”
Happy Paws has also created a niche in the Moffat County Fair for community members who want to get involved with their dog.
From 10 a.m. to noon Aug. 7, Happy Paws will be holding dog agility competitions on the fairgrounds lawn just north of the indoor arena. Anyone in the community — youth and adults — is welcome to bring their dog to compete.
The youth will set up the agility course, and teams can come and run through the course to practice a couple of times until they are ready to do a timed run with their dog. There will be prizes for the teams with the fastest times.
At 1 p.m. Aug. 13, Happy Paws will be holding dog race events that are also open for community members. This is the first year Happy Paws is putting on this event.
Dog races will have a small, medium and large category, and there will be awards for best trick, best costume and cutest dog.
Two local community members — Dr. Wayne Davis from Craig Veterinary Clinic and Lee Anne Schmid, the manager at Murdoch’s — will serve as judges for the dog races.
The dog races are meant to be fun and playful, and owners are encouraged to dress up with their dog. The team with the fastest recall will be named the winner.
Apart from the fair, Happy Paws does fundraisers throughout the year to support its activities — in previous years, youth have planned trips to Bananas Fun Park in Grand Junction — and to support animal causes in the community.
Starting at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 23, Happy Paws is hosting a fundraiser at Murdoch’s Ranch & Home Supply. Youth will be selling hamburgers and hotdogs and accepting cash donations, as well as donations of pet food, treats and supplies for both cats and dogs.
All of the donations collected during the fundraiser will go to the Moffat County Humane Society.
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