Getting ready for the fair

There’s an odd collection of things on my kitchen table this week and I fear it will only get worse in the coming week.

Dog treats, training collars, a grooming brush and dog toothpaste – chicken flavored to be precise – are there amongst the mail and keys that seem to get dropped on the table. The canine supplies mean that it’s nearly time for the Hamilton County Fair. At least that’s what it means at our house.

Daniel is involved in the 4-H Dog Obedience program and has been working throughout the year, and most intensively over the past three months, to get our two pooches ready to show.

The two dogs make kind of an odd couple. Toby is an 80-pound flat-coated retriever and Buster is a 19-pound lhasa apso. But it’s fairly clear that the little guy is the brains of the duo and is also a bit of an instigator.

Toby really enjoys the obedience training. He’s an old pro at the show – this is his fourth year. He knows what to expect and how to behave in the show arena. My son has taught him things I never would have guessed he could learn. This year, he’s working with taking a dumbbell and returning it on command from Daniel.

At 12, I think Toby is one of the older gentlemen in the competition. He’s a little bit achy in the joints (I know just how he feels) and takes some supplements to help with that. Realistically, it’s probably his last year in the competition.

Buster, who is 8-years-old, is new to dog training and I don’t think he quite understands what to make of the obedience classes. Of course, since there are treats involved, Buster Dog is an apt participant. His ears perk right up when he sees a tasty tidbit dangling over his nose. Food and treats are very serious business in Buster’s book.

We had to get Buster groomed sohe would look good at the fair. The little guy gets quite shaggy if we don’t keep him regularly clipped. He just recently had his wintertime growth chopped and looks like he lost about five pounds in the process. But he looks pretty good for his county fair debut next week. Toby will have his day at the spa just the day before he competes. He, too, will have a haircut and bath, have his nails clipped and toe tufts trimmed.

I really wish I could watch Daniel compete with the dogs, but when I’m in the arena, they tend to look at me and not listen to Daniel’s commands. That pretty much means I’m sitting in the livestock barn with other dog, making sure he’s watered and brushed and ready to go when called.

I also get to help Daniel get dressed up for the costume contest. Daniel has a cute costume idea planned. He and Toby will be dressed up as … well, I better not say yet. Daniel wants to keep it underwraps until competition day at the fair.

I have take my hat off to all of the 4-H kids who are getting ready for fair exhibits, project judging and livestock shows. They spend countless hours every year working on projects, learning new skills and growing into strong leaders.