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Dogs and owners strut their stuff for fair

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SHOWING OFF: Sarah Tish and her dog Yoda train about six hours a week to prepare for the 4-H shows.
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LARGE AND IN CHARGE: Dogs of all shapes and sizes showed up to compete Thursday night.
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GOOD DOG: Contestants showered their pups with affection and treats during the show.

BY Samantha Oyler - soyler@chronicle-tribune.com

Although the Grant County 4-H Fair doesn’t start for a little over a week, festivities are well under way.

The 4-H dog show began Thursday night with showmanship and agility competitions.

Leah Willis has been showing animals for years. In third grade she started showing horses and moved onto showing dogs in sixth grade.

Now at 21 she is a 4-H leader.

“The 4-H environment is really relaxed and family-oriented,” Willis said.

When it comes to 4-H dog shows, Willis said participants are judged based on how well they work with their dogs, so it’s important to put in the hours.

“It takes a lot of time and dedication,” she said.

Sarah Tish has been training and showing her dog Yoda since she was 12. After almost three years, Sarah and Yoda have gotten quite comfortable with the process.

“At first, she wouldn’t calm down. … She was a nutcase that needed training, but now she’s allowed to roam,” Sarah said.

Sarah spends about six hours a week training Yoda and they’ve grown used to each other.

“You can tell she’s my dog,” Sarah said. “Someone else will try to get her to do something and she’ll look up at me like ‘Do I really have to?’”

Sarah makes the process look easy, but sometimes it can be anything but.

“We work extremely hard. The first year is always rough, you just have to push through it,” Sarah said. She recalls that certain parts, like agility, clicked for Yoda, but things like obedience took some more time.

Contestants might get frustrated when things don’t turn out the way they planned, but after years of practice, Willis tells them to keep their cool and try to make the most of what they’ve got.

“Don’t get upset, just try to make it fun. That’s what it’s really all about,” she said.

Spectators can see the 4-H Dog Obedience portion today at 5 p.m.

The Grant County 4-H Fair kicks off officially with opening ceremonies on June 16 at 7 p.m. 

A full schedule of events can be found on the Grant County Purdue Extension website.