Mill Park Elementary kids go Canine Crazy

Learn why 20 breeders, trainers, and volunteers brought a full-blown dog show and demonstration to the kids of this fine outer SE Portland school‚

Dog show organizer Jennifer Clohessy spends a moment with David Douglas High School student Judy Davis and her dog, Frazier.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Mill Park Elementary School’s gym becomes a dog show stadium‚ complete with a 60′ x 40′ ring‚ on May 5. In this ring, twenty breeders and trainers put their dogs on display, demonstrating their obedience, agility, and confirmation skills.

Among the 35 well-trained dogs present, there isn’t hardly a bark in the bunch.

“We’re putting on this assembly to teach children about AKC breeds and responsible pet ownership,” explained Judy Davis, president of Vancouver Kennel Club.

“It’s important for kids to know about different breeds of dogs, and know how to take care of them. Young people need to know both how much work it is to keep a pet ‚Äì but also know how much love their pet can give back to them,” Davis tells us.

Research before you buy
One of the most important things, Davis continues, “is that parents need to ‘do their homework’ before they buy a dog. Make sure you have the right size; you know the temperament of the breed; how much work is involved in grooming and exercising the dog. A dog isn’t a ‘toy’ or ‘fashion accessory’. Pick your dog carefully.”

In the obedience portion of the show, Jennifer Clohessy puts Frazier through his paces.

Obedience demonstrated
One of the trainers we met was Jennifer Clohessy, a student at David Douglas High School.

She introduces us to Frazier. “He’s a Canadian champion ‘Caledon Deuces are Wild’. Yes, that is the name of the breed,” she confirms in response to our quizzical expression. “It is a Shetland Sheepdog, also known as a Sheltie.”

The high school junior says she’s in David Douglas’ “health track” program. “I plan to major in veterinary medicine in college,” she says.

When it is his turn, Clohessy releases Frazier. He races forward, jumps hurtles, scampers through a U-turn tunnel, and hops over the obstacles before he returns to his trainer. The fast-paced action wins the approval of the young student audience‚ they break into cheers and applause.

In the obedience demonstration, Frazier walks, stops, and “stays” at Clohessy’s side‚ his eyes on his master at all times.

We ask Clohessy why her dog is so well trained.

“Actually, I have three of them. I just fell in love the breed,” the perky teenager replies. “It takes daily training. This means three to four hours every day‚ per dog. It takes lots of time.”

We ask if her social life has “gone to the dogs”.

Clohessy  aughs and says, “You’re right!”

Dan Butcher puts his golden retriever, Tommy, through is paces.

Breeder Dan Butcher is the event’s MC. During the confirmation portion of the assembly‚ it’s like a beauty show of dogs‚ he interviews the trainers about their breeds of dogs.

While the young students seem to enjoy the action demonstrations, they really appear to enjoy the time when they could pet the dogs and meet the trainers and ask questions.

As we think back about this special school assembly, we wonder who had the most fun‚ the kids, the trainers, or the dogs.

Torri and Kylee Tjensvold with Liberty and Herbie Chow-chows, father and son.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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