Bethany Pike and her dog, Boone, both have benefited from being a part of the 4-H dog club.
Boone has become a little more obedient and Bethany has taken a step out of her comfort zone to try something new. The result was doing well at the Hardin County Community Fair and Horse Show contest and on the State Fair Level competition on Sunday.
A few weeks from turning 15, the Elizabethtown girl is a home-schooled sophomore and the oldest of seven children.
At first, she came across the dog club looking for obedience training for Boone. She didn’t realize it was a competition.
“He was out of control,” she said of the dog. “I wanted him to behave in the house, with other people and wanted him to learn.”
In her search, she found 4-H’s dog club at Bella’s Academy.
The club taught a lot about showing a dog but obedience was a prerequisite. She went to the beginners class and helped Boone learned commands such as sit, wait and stay.
“He’s improved a lot,” she said.
She moved on to the advanced class, partly because he was the only dog in the beginners class and she wanted him to learn to be around other dogs.
It’s fun and sometimes she forgets training him is fun and not really work, she said.
“He likes to work,” Pike said of Boone, adding he enjoys going to dog club. “I think he likes the people there more than me sometimes.”
At the county fair, she scored better than she expected. She got 98 out of 100 in the conformation scoring. Obedience wasn’t as good but she still scored in the 80s and 90s.
In conformation, the handler shows how the dog stands and how they look, much like what you see in AKC shows, she said.
But in the 4H competition, they are judging the handler and how you show your dog, she said. That’s why it doesn’t matter the breed of the dog in the competition.
“So it doesn’t matter that Boone is pretty much a mutt,” she said.
You have to keep your dog between you and the judge, correct things and make sure he stands OK, she said.
It was enough to move her on to the Kentucky State Fair. She’s in the novice class and two other girls from the county will compete in a class above her, she said.
“In some ways I’m really excited, but in other ways I’m super nervous and I can’t wait until it’s over and we can focus on other things,” she said.
Her mom, Miranda, said Pike’s club sponsors prepared her for the event Boone might not do what he’s told because he may be overwhelmed by the people or size of Broadbent Arena.
But it will be a good experience for both of them, she said.
It turned out to be an even better experience than they expected. In Sunday’s competition ahead of opening days for the fair, Pike and Boone won first place in Beginner Showmanship, Obedience Sub Novice A and Rally Obedience Beginner.
When Pike and Boone came to the dog club in the fall, both were hungry for knowledge, club facilitator Rose Bible said.
“She has worked very hard with Boone, they are a very fun-loving pair and I’m looking for the next step and adventure,” Bible said. “She is always happy and a pleasure to be around and we gave her the most improved at the county show.”
Boone reads people well, Pike said.
Her instructors told her at the county fair he saw she was nervous. He didn’t crack under pressure, she said, but he was confused by why she was nervous.
“So he kind of did what he was supposed to do,” she said.
The club, she said, has gotten her out of her comfort zone.
“I’m really proud of Bethany and dog club has really taken her out of her comfort zone,” Miranda said. “The thing I love about Bethany is that she continually grows and loves to learn.”
Pike has put a lot of time and hours into working with Boone, Miranda said.
“It’s fun to watch her and Boone both to do something they enjoy and it’s character building,” she said. “Because she loves Boone and loves dogs, she was willing to put herself into an uncomfortable situation.”
Going to dog club was a big step for Pike, Miranda said. Her passion for Boone and dogs kept her going.
“Because she’s done that it’s brought her many things she didn’t expect,” she said.
The experience has made her more brave socially, Pike said.
She also learned a lot about her dog and her relationship with him.
“I realized any dog can be trained because I thought he was the dumbest dog ever,” she joked.
But when she took him to dog club they told her how smart he is.
“I discovered that it’s something he really loves and we’ve bonded that way,” she said adding they work in sync. “He’s more like my friend instead of my dog.”
The club also has taught her you don’t always get immediate results in life.
In October, she thought Boone was hopeless. Now, she said she still has room to improve but the pair have gradually gotten better.
“It’s good to work together,” she said.
She even went as far to pay, out of her own money, to have a DNA test on the dog to see what kind of breed he was.
Boone was surrendered at a veterinarian when he had a broken leg and the previous owner didn’t want to pay for his medical care after bringing him there. She was told by the vet that he would only grow to about 40 pounds. He’s currently 75 pounds.
She found out he’s half husky and half everything else, which includes some Springer Spaniel and Labrador.
“The husky in him likes to work,” she said.