COLUMBIA — In a building full of barking, playful canines, the 4-H/FFA dog show was the ideal place for pet lovers.
A wide range of dogs competed Saturday evening at the Columbia Canine Sports Center for the coveted blue ribbons. The 36 contestants participated in events such as showmanship, obedience, rally and agility.
With her long-haired Chihuahua named Chip, first-time participant Allison Frappier, 12, not only won her class but also won best junior novice for showmanship.
Frappier said the event was a lot of fun, but it took some work to get there.
“We went to classes for 4-H (at the Columbia Canine Sports Center) and practiced at home,” Frappier said. “Chip was afraid of getting up on the table, so we practiced a lot so he wouldn’t be scared.”
Participant McKenzie Meyer, 11, placed second in her showmanship class and said the dog show was exciting for both her and her dog Dixie, a golden retriever.
“It is fun to get out there with all the other dogs and to keep striving to get to the point where you can tell them what to do,” Meyer said. “I think she has fun too because she gets to show off her skills.”
Onlookers seemed to enjoy all the events, but the showmanship class, where the participants presented their dogs to the judges, drew the largest crowds.
The most challenging event, according to Boone County 4-H Dog Project Leader Sarah Carlisle, was the obedience class. The event requires dogs to perform multiple exercises, such as recall sit and stay, figure-eight patterns and standing for examination.
The other two categories, rally and agility, added a little more fun to the mix. Rally combines obedience with stations where the dogs perform moves such as sit, weave through the cones or walk around their owner. Agility involves an entire obstacle course with ramps, tunnels and other challenges.
There were also talent and costume contests, during which the dogs were able to focus less on form and more on looking cute.
For many, dog shows are family events, and both 12-year-old Jessica Cobban and 9-year-old Mattie Cobban made the night successful for their family. With their big, fluffy Newfoundland dogs, Benelli and Bazooka, they won a stack of ribbons, many of them for first place.
Whether the ribbons were blue for first or pink for fourth, almost every competing dog went home with a ribbon.
With the entire building full of kids, families and dogs, Carlisle said the dog show reveals a very different side of the Boone County Fair.
“Dog showing is such a unique event when compared to all the other livestock events because dogs are domesticated and we can relate to them on some kind of level,” Carlisle said.
Training a dog also takes a lot more time to do when compared with other fair competitions, Carlisle said.
“The kids have to train the dogs year-round every day, and with livestock they only get the animals four, five or six months in advance,” Carlisle said. “It takes a very committed and mature kid to be able to do that.”