All is Fair…

 So I will start by saying that my absolute favorite time of summer is fair season.  I love the sights, smells and the competition!  Being a former 4-Her, my heart is deeply rooted in all things fair.  This past weekend, our chapter’s CCI 4-H group exhibited their puppies at The Evergreen State Fair, and of course I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go!  I knew it would be a wonderful experience for Helaine because it’s a much larger fair than the one in my town and I had to get my magical Purple Cow fix.  (Don’t know what a purple cow is?  Just ask!)

While I had planned all along to come out to the fair and watch Elle’s Kids H and J show their sweet puppy Kolby, I had also been asked by our contract trainer if I wouldn’t mind spending the day observing how the classes are judged, so that I can take the reigns in judging next year.  Of course I agreed and had looked forward to being the silent observer.  Helaine had a spot with H and J on the bench and in the ring so I had my entire focus on the task at hand.  When the original judge didn’t show up (and eventually got there late), I was thrown into the gauntlet and I went from “silent observer” to full on Judge in a matter of five minutes.  I walked the course without the kids to see where each stop was, and thankfully by the time I got back the original judge was there.  We were actually able to judge together and I am so thankful that I had her.  She was an incredible help and was especially helpful when H, J and Helaine went through the course because I am not sure I would have been able to remain un-biased.  I genuinely hope that I have a second judge next year as well, because two sets of eyes are definitely better than one.

While out on the course, I was awestruck by each and every kid and puppy team.  Our 4-H club consists of not only puppy raiser teams, but graduate teams as well.  I got especially teary as I watched each graduate team work the course together.  I feel especially lucky and blessed that I am able to see graduates working together at class each week, but watching them in a real life setting was even more awesome.  Giving them scores based on their performance together was difficult, but I know that with each score and a few comments, these kids were feeling awesome about themselves and their dogs.  Seeing the smiles on the faces of all of these wonderful exhibitors as I handed out their awards for a job well done made me feel…indescribable.  Humbled?  Absolutely.  It was a great experience and I look forward to watching these kids grow and become top knotch handlers and puppy raisers. 

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Doing my thing, tallying up the scores!

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Telling the kids how awesome they are!

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This is why there aren’t many pictures of ME on this blog 😉

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Handing H her award!  She is so deserving!

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I promise I was happier than this picture shows!  Good job, J!

Helaine spent the day as a 4-H dog, and I’m pretty sure that is where she was meant to be.  Have I mentioned how much she LOVE kids!?  She adores them.  Everything about them.  I was initially sad that I wasn’t going to get to spend much time with her there, but I know that she was in excellent hands and she was having a TON of fun! 

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  Helaine with her bench buddy, Fate

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In my mind, this is how I thought she’d be without me

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But she was really like this…

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Happy Happy Happy

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I mean seriously, did she even notice I was gone?

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She went through the evaluation course with J, and they both were phenomenal.  I was telling EVERYONE that she works better for him than me, and I believe it.  I’m not sure if she was just showing off but they made a brilliant team.  She didn’t show much worry at all!  I thought for sure watching the roller coaster would freak her out, but she just sat there and took treats from J, keeping her attention on him the entire time.  She did skirt arount the storm drain, but with a little reassurance and a re-do, she quickly trusted him enough to walk over it willingly.  I so wish I had photos of the evaluation course.  With J’s patience and help, they rocked it together!

While I was tallying up scores and getting awards together, Helaine and J competed in Agility.  I use the term competed loosely…it was more like…gave an honest attempt at.  She is NOT an agility dog and probably never will be.  I heard that she got a round of applause when it came time to go through the tunnel.  She was NOT about it at all.  With a little bit of coaxing and a whole lot of love she finally made it through.  Our contract trainer said that we have access to a tunnel, so we will be bringing that out in class soon and we will be working through it.  It’s not a necessary skill, but she needs to know that it is okay to be concerned about something, but that she can work through it and have it be okay. 

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She also got a lot of love from the public and from the kids on the bench.  My heart is satisfied knowing that she didn’t even realize I was away from her and that she was being showered with as much love and pets as she could possibly take.  This was a very positive fair experience for her, and my only wish is that she would be with me through next year’s fair so that one of these awesome youth could show her.  Knowing that is not a possibility as turn in is the week before, I have decided to offer up my next puppy to a 4-Her in need.

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And here is the excellent group of kids that I had the pleasure of hanging out with, mentoring and seeing the level of talent each of them possesses. Notice my sweet Helaine, front row between the deep red Golden and the Black Lab.  She did a great job staying in place!

What a wonderful day of experiences for both Helaine and I!  I look forward to being a more prepared and knowledgable judge next year!  I am so thankful for all that I learned this year, and that I was trusted enough to be in charge of such a big and important event!  Our contract trainer is a woman of few words, but her gestures and her asking me to be in charge of this event really really touched me, and validated that I am capable of this puppy raising and dog training bit.  I am truly humbled by this experience and will remember it for years to come.

**Elle**

 Thank you so much for taking these pictures and sharing them with me.  I am so thankful that I will have these memories for Helaine’s forever person, and that because of you I will be able to share stories of Helaine’s first, and probably last, dog show debut.  Also, thank you for raising such kind, sweet and generous kiddos. I am so thankful that Helaine was in the care of you and your family!  Love you bushels and bunches friend!

**J & H**

Thank you so much for loving my puppy so darn much.  Thank you for willingly taking care of her and working  with her through new obstacles.  You were both a tremendous help and I cannot thank you enough.  You are both truly wonderful kids and puppy handlers and I am so happy knowing that Helaine was in such good care.  Congratulations on all your accomplishments this year and I look forward to watching you both grow as puppy raisers and dog handlers. 

 

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