4-H four leaf clover logoBest Friends patch with paw and hand

Best Friends 4-H Club

The Inclusive 4-H Canine Project Club
with a focus on Canine Therapy

Motto: "If the map and the terrain do not agree, believe the terrain." -- Charles W. Chaillet, Jr.

4-H'ers   *   Volunteer Leaders   *   Team Canines   *   Contact Us

About   *   Calendar   *   Registration   *  Homework    *   Fair   *   Resources/References   *   Mariah Award

Watch our video, PAWS-ATIVE THERAPY   *   Follow us on Facebook

Welcome to Best Friends 4-H Club, in Berrien County, Michigan!

Slideshow of 4-H'ers, dogs,and leaders

       Best Friends 4-H Club is an inclusive 4-H canine project club, designed to assist our Nontraditional (member with a life disability) and our Traditional 4-H'ers in learning about the many aspects of canine handling, including dog training, ownership responsibility and competitions.

       We are recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) as the ONLY CANINE THERAPY DOG COMPETITION 4-H CLUB IN THE UNITED STATES! This means that not only are our our 4-H'ers given the opportunity to enjoy the sport of dog competitions in Dog Obedience, Rally, Agility, and Jr. Showmanship, but our club's canine members are also eligible for their Canine Therapy Dog Titles!

       Best Friends 4-H Club was formed in 1988 by Patti Dynes and her son, David, after an exhaustive -- and fruitless -- search for a dog training club that could accommodate a student with Down's Syndrome. Over the years, our role has expanded to encompass the therapy benefits of training and competing with a canine for our youths with life disabilities while also teaching the every day responsibility of dog ownership and competing with their canines for our 4-H'ers without life disabilities. Our 4-H'ers, nontraditional and traditional alike, benefit greatly from the canine lessons, socialization and competitions at the Berrien County Youth Fair -- and have a lot of fun doing it!

       The success of our club depends upon the partnership among our 4-H'ers, our volunteer leaders, our canines, and our 4-H parents. To see if our programs are right for you or your child, please visit the 4-H'ers and Volunteer Leaders sections of our website!

4-H'ers   *   Volunteer Leaders

Best Friends 4-H Club's MISSION GOALS:

  1. 4-H'ers with dogsTo provide an educational experience to youth who otherwise might be excluded from competition and denied the experience and growth it provides.

  2. To provide members an opportunity to learn about canine training and handling in a safe and supportive environment.

  3. To focus on building positive relationships between club members and their own OR Volunteer Team Canines.

  4. To provide canine therapy and motivation with physical and mental stimulation while having fun.


"Hands and Paws together always in friendship and teamwork." -- L.M. Shannon-Chaillet



4-H four leaf clover logo4-H Pledge:

I pledge my HEAD to clearer thinking, My HEART to greater loyalty, my HANDS to larger service, my HEALTH to better living, for my Club, my Community, my Country and my World.

4-H Parent Pledge:

I pledge my HEAD to give my child the information I can to help him or her see things clearly and to make wise decisions.

I pledge my HEART to encourage and support my child no matter whether he or she has successes or disappointments.

I pledge my HANDS to help my child's club. If I cannot be a leader, I can help in many equally important ways.

I pledge my HEALTH to keep my child strong and well for a better world through 4-H, for my child's Club, our Community, our Country and our World.

A 4-H'er, a volunteer leader, and their team canine.

4-H Team Instructor's Pledge:

I pledge my HEAD by giving my assigned 4-H'er the dog training concept tools I have and to help him or her understand canine training theories as clearly as possible.

I pledge my HEART to encourage and support my assigned 4-H'er no matter whether he or she has successes or disappointments in canine therapy and dog competition training.

I pledge my HANDS in assisting my assigned 4-H'er to learn life lessons and life skills through 4-H's Canine Therapy and Dog Competition Training.

I pledge my HEALTH by keeping myself and my own canine strong and well for a better world through 4-H.

        A huge THANK YOU to Vicki Williams at Mutterly Love in St. Joseph, Michigan who volunteers the training facility as Best Friends' clubhouse! Thanks also to Barb Schuck: Author of JARED'S PATH; Knights of Columbus, St. Joseph, Michigan Chapter; Berrien Kennel Club, Berrien County, Michigan; and Berrien County Youth Fair, Berrien Springs, Michigan; for your support of our program.

       Best Friends 4-H Club operates under the auspices of the Michigan State University Extension. The Michigan State University Extension prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, religion, age, height, weight, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, or veteran status. Person with disabilities may request accommodations by calling the Berrien County Michigan State University Extension Office at 269-927-5674.

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Watch our video, PAWS-ATIVE THERAPY   *   Follow us on Facebook


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Unless otherwise noted, Photos © Copyright 2022, Pat Crean & Best Friends 4-H Club. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
"Book Hound" Photos © Copyright 2022, Maud Preston Palenske Memorial Library in St. Joseph, MI. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
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