Canine competition during the dog days of summer


July 22, 1999|By Diane Mikulis | Diane Mikulis,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

THE DOG days of summer have been with us for a while now. But last Saturday at the Howard County Fairgrounds, 25 dogs showed that they don't lose their cool, even when the temperature climbs to 95 degrees.

The dogs, with their handlers, competed in a match sponsored by the Happy Hounds 4-H Club. This competition was a qualifier for the 4-H dog show at the State Fair in September.

Sandy Melichar of Glenelg coordinated the match. Her daughter, Jennifer, 15, has been a member of Happy Hounds and a participant in dog shows for eight years.

Melichar said the competition is not a beauty contest for dogs. What is really being judged, she said, is the relationship between the youths and the canines -- how the dogs behave is evidence of the training they have received.

And the care a handler gives a dog is also judged. This includes grooming, exercise and proper health care.

"You have to keep the dog in good shape," Jennifer said.

There are two classes of competition. Many 4-H members enter both but are not required to do so.

In fitting and showing, the handler tries to show off the dog to its best advantage. He or she poses the dog, leads it at an appropriate gait and is prepared to answer judges' questions about care, grooming and background of the dog's breed.

In the obedience class, the dog must respond to commands from the handler, which could include movement, halting, sitting, lying down, retrieving and jumping.

Both of these classes are further divided into levels based on the experience of the handler and the dog, and the age of the handler.

"4-H is about kids learning through something they're particularly interested in, like dogs," Melichar said. She said that all show participants develop a certain amount of poise from competing in the show ring with just a judge, themselves and their dogs.

To help keep the dogs cool during Saturday's match, a wading pool full of ice water was provided along with several electric fans throughout the hall. And the three-minute "down stay" (lying still) in the obedience competition was almost a treat because the floor is cool concrete.

Melichar said that about half of the dogs in the competition were purebreds, the other half were mixed breeds or, as she refers to them, "designer dogs."

"Designer dogs take a little bit from one breed, a little bit from another breed," she said.

Eight youths and their dogs won in their classes and will represent Howard County at the State Fair in fitting and showing, and obedience. They are: Jennifer, Danielle Betz, Brianna Rickle, Matt Biegel, Hayley Phillips, Anna Baran, Marielle Proia and Alex Proia.

Natalie Wagner, Julia Lemich, Amy Frasier and Jessica Cullum will compete with their dogs in the obedience class.

Membership in 4-H is open to any girl or boy ages 6 to 18. Information: Sandy Melichar, 410-988-9722.

Eagle Scout

Carl Zimmerman has become the newest Eagle Scout in Boy Scout Troop 702 of Highland.

Carl, 16, was 15 when he completed the requirements. He is the youngest Eagle Scout in his troop.

For his Eagle project, Carl coordinated the laying of an underground drainage system at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Laurel.

The downspouts of the church were connected to the drainage system and then connected to an existing underground storm drain. This solved the problem of rainwater eroding the soil near the downspouts.

Carl managed the efforts of about 30 members of his troop and the church. Together, they spent 250 hours on the project.

Having achieved Eagle rank at such a young age, Carl's current goal is to earn more merit badges and gold and silver palms, which are available only to Eagle Scouts.

An Eagle Court of Honor was held last month at Our Savior Lutheran Church.

Participating in the ceremony were Eagle Scouts Jeff Jew, Dan Byrd and Jason Jew, as well as Scouts Joel Kahle, Tim MacLaughlin, Brian Evans, Sam Maconachy and Scott Salvaggio.

Scoutmaster Wes Earp presented Carl with the Eagle Award, and retired Scoutmaster Mike Hill and Assistant Scoutmasters John Blaisdell and Dan Callow also participated.

Carl is a junior at River Hill High School and is a member of the school orchestra, cross-country team and indoor and outdoor track teams.

He has participated in backpacking at a Boy Scout camp in New Mexico and sailing and scuba diving at a camp in the Florida Keys.

Design competition

The Howard County Conservancy announces opportunities for the community to become involved in its historic farm, Mount Pleasant, in Woodstock.

A design competition is being held for a 3-acre Honors Garden, which is designated for landscaping donations in memory or honor of individuals or organizations. The garden will be part of the John L. Clark Arboretum.

Entrants should consider the climate and year-round use of the garden, and the completed garden should be easily maintained. Tours of the area are available.

Entries are due by 5 p.m. Aug. 20.

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