Ag Field day has gone to the (4-H) dogs for 25 years!
For over 25 years, the State 4-H Dog Show has provided New Jersey 4-H dog project members a state level event to test their dog’s skills and meet fellow dog project enthusiasts.
The event started as part of 4-H Action Day and eventually became part of Ag Field Day. In recent years, Rutgers University expanded the open-house event to include all campuses, calling it Rutgers Day. Throughout these changes, the State 4-H Dog Show has continued to delight the public as it offers them a chance to meet and greet 4-H dog project members and their dogs.
Kathy Murarik, 4-H program associate-Morris County, has run the State 4-H Dog Show since its inception. Kelly Dziak, 4-H program associate-Morris County, grew up in the 4-H dog project, showing her greyhound at the event every year. She then volunteered to support Murarik. This year, she ‘takes the leash’ leading the event with Murarik’s support along with a team of dedicated volunteers.
Originally, the State 4-H Dog Show only offered competition in obedience, a Seeing Eye Puppy class, and a fun tricks class. As interests evolved, new categories were added requiring more volunteers, judges and show rings. This year, visitors will watch 4-H dog project members compete in Obedience, Jr. Showmanship, Seeing Eye Puppy Class, Rally Obedience, and Agility. All dogs competing in the State 4-H Dog Show will be examined by the Grooming Judge to ensure they are in the best health and condition.
Many members also submit artwork in the K-9 Arts Show including photography, fine art, crafts and creative writing.
For members interested in testing their dog’s temperament in real-world situations, the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Test is available. In this test, dogs undergo a series of everyday situations, such as greeting a stranger, to see if they can be considered a “model canine citizen”. The test is an important step for handlers interested in pursuing Therapy Dog status for their dog.
A new class added for the 2019 show is the Trick Dog competition. In this class, dogs are tested on many different, interesting tricks which include “give paw”, “roll over”, “speak” and many more.
It takes a big team and a lot of planning to make the State 4-H Dog Show possible. Over 50 volunteers assist with set-up, running the various competition rings, and serving as judges and ring stewards. Volunteers for this event include current 4-H dog club families and leaders, 4-H alumni and AKC representatives.
New this year, representatives from the New Jersey Dog Federation will introduce the public to many different breeds recognized by the AKC and answer questions about dog care and ownership.