XENIA — Two dogs and their handlers competed in the first dog show at the Greene County Fair five years ago.
This year, on Aug. 3, 15 4-Hers brought their dogs to the fair for a show that has grown to include an agility course, a rally event, freestyle dance, showmanship, obedience and a fun show.
And their parents credit 4 Pawz and Clawz 4-H Club Advisor Kristina Morgan for this.
“I call Kristina ‘Superwoman,’” Barbie Demmy-Scheidler, who has a son in the club, said. “She is just really a super volunteer.”
Morgan showed dogs in 4-H for 10 years before beginning judging, and then founding 4 Pawz. She also advises a dog 4-H club in Fayette County, where she lives.
“I call this my second full-time job,” she laughed. “The kids make it all worth it.”
Morgan, who calls herself a life-long 4-Her, said the kids remind her of herself.
“I love working with these kids that were exactly like me back then,” she said, explaining how she was very shy when she started 4-H at 10-years-old. “My dog was a rott-mix and she really turned things around for me and kind of made me who I am today. She’s given me the confidence to talk to people. I’m a respiratory therapist and I wouldn’t be able to do that had I still been where I was.”
Morgan continued, “I just love seeing the relationships develop between these kids and their dogs as they really come into their own.”
The advisor said the club starts meeting in January to work on their projects and prepare for the fair, but they might start as early as September this year.
“Dogs are a 24-7 thing. You have to work with them a lot — several hours a day, all year round. And you can tell the kids who work real hard,” she said. “I’m proud of all of them.”
A historic first for the club, two competed at the state fair this year. Riley Mitchell-Wolfe with her dog Griffey and River Demmy-Stover with his dog Eddy both earned titles there.
The two ended the first half of the show dancing together in a freestyle routine.
“It was very fun,” Mitchell-Wolfe said. “We took things that we both knew and put them together.”
The 12-year-old also danced at both fairs to “How Far I’ll Go” in a hula-style skirt.
“Having fun is goal number one,” Morgan said. “All I want for these kids is to have a dog that fits into society, it’s not a nuissance, it behaves. Ribbons and trophies are nice but well-behaved dogs in society are better.”
Contact Anna Bolton at 937-502-4498 or follow @annadbolton on Facebook.