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

Best Friends 4-H Club


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

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In this section: Summer Dog Class Project   *   Dog Science Notebook   *   Junior Showmanship   *   Special Projects

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Best Friends 4-H Club's Summer Dog Class Project

4-hers and dogs practicing greeting one another       Best Friends 4-H Club is an inclusive 4-H canine project club, designed to teach our Nontraditional and Traditional 4-H'ers about the many aspects of canine handling, including dog training, ownership responsibility and competitions. Our 4-H'ers meet in a safe, supportive enviroment, and use the American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizenship Program as a foundation and a goal. Best Friends 4-H Club is open to non-traditional 4-H'ers ages 5 - 26 and Traditional 4-H’ers ages 5 – 19 years as of January 1–.

       While our 4-H'ers may participate in special projects throughout the year, our main activity is the Summer Dog Class Project.

       Because Best Friends was first created to meet the needs of Nontraditional 4-H'ers -- club members with a life disability who cannot meet the standards of canine handling set by the American Kennel Club without aid -- each of our Nontraditional 4-H'ers is teamed up with a volunteer Team Instructor and a canine -- his/her own or a volunteer. Our Traditional 4-H'ers work with their own dogs.

       Starting the first Monday in June, we meet at Mutterly Love in St. Joseph, MI, every Monday evening from 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm until the Berrien County Youth Fair in mid- August. Our goals include: competition in dog shows at the Fair for both our Traditional and Nontraditional club members, and giving them the opportunity to test for a Canine Good Citizenship title for their team canines.    In our Dog Class Project 4-H'ers study:

  1. Canine Safety
  2. Canine Ownership Responsibility
  3. Dog Obedience
  4. Dog Agility
  5. Rally Obedience
  6. Junior Showmanship
  7. Good Sportsmanship & Figure 8
  8. Canine Anatomy & Breeds
  9. Dog Care and Responsibility Science Notebooks

        At the end of each class, the 4-H'ers will be given homework assignments to be completed during the week and placed in his or her 4-H Dog Science Notebook .

4-H'er with dog       All of our 4-H'ers will complete their yearly dog project by entering the Berien County Youth Fair (BCYF):

  • Nontraditional members will enter BCYF's "Canine Exhibitor with Special Needs" Canine Competitions in Dog Science Notebooks, Rally, Obedience, Agility and Costume categories, which are held on the Tuesday of fair week.

  • Traditional members will enter BCYF's Dog Competitions in Dog Science Notebooks, Rally, Jr. Showmanship, Agility and Obedience, which are held on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

       For more information, including specific dates and times for events and vet check-in, please see our Berrien County Youth Fair page.

         Each 4-H'er is also required to participate in an American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizenship Test and try to obtain a Canine Good Citizenship (CGC) Title for his or her canine. Time and place will be announced through your Best Friends meetings, emails, and on our Facebook page. (You can read more about the Canine Good Citizenship Test here.)

       Club dues are $10 a year for everyone, including 4-H'ers and Team Instructors, but scholarships are available.


Dog Science Notebook

4-h'er, leader, and dog jumping       The 4-H Dog Science Notebook is an essential part of our program. It helps teach our 4-H'ers to keep all of their resource material together in an organized manner for quick and easy referencing, while at the same time providing a place to keep his or her own and canine's accomplishments. Simply put, the 4-H Dog Science Notebook contains each 4-H'er's Canine Career in writing, as well as memories and knowledge. Completed 4-H Dog Science Notebooks will be evaluated at the Berrien County Youth Fair Animal Science Notebooks competition.

       Please click on the links below for the information you will need to help you get started, and to learn how to organize your knowledge material and keepsakes.


Junior Showmanship Classes

4-h'ers and dogs in obedience judging       Best Friends Junior Showmanship classes are designed to hone further the ability and skill of both Nontraditional and Traditional 4-H'ers in handling their dogs as they would be judged in an actual dog show. The 4-H'ers will learn canine presentation (proper stance and movement), breed knowledge, canine anatomy, proper grooming (for both the canine and the handler) and "ring etiquette." We hope to provide 4-H'ers with a meaningful competition in which they can learn, practice, and improve in all areas of handling skill and sportsmanship.

       Each Best Friends Junior Showmanship Class is four weeks long, and our Training Goals are to teach each 4-H'er:

  • The standard for his/her breed
  • How to dress properly for the dog show ring
  • Tools of the trade
  • Grooming his/her breed
  • History of his/her breed
  • Table presentation for his/her breed
  • Floor presentation for his/her breed
  • Judging procedures


Special Projects

Thanks4Giving poster       Throughout the year, Best Friends 4-H Club members participate in a number of special projects. Many incorporate service to their community. Special projects include (but are not limited to):

  • Canine Therapy and Book Hounds with 4-H Leaders (please see Leader's Projects for details)

  • Canned food drive at the Berrien County Youth Fair to benefit local food pantries

  • "Thanks for Giving" Thanksgiving dinner basket project

  • Collecting pet food, treats, toys, litter, etc. for donation to Berrien County Animal Control (at our annual Christmas party meeting)

  • Field Trips: Each year, Best Friends 4-H Club's 4-H'ers can earn a field trip to an American Kennel Club Dog Show to watch actual competitions in All Breed Conformation, Rally, Obedience, and Agility. There will be an opportunity to purchase much needed dog supplies (dog leashes, dog crates, clothing, etc.) from dog vendors and, to top it off, lunch at Denny's after the show. To earn our yearly field trip, the 4-H'er must enter his or her Dog Science Notebook into the Berrien County Youth Fair held in August of that year. PLEASE NOTE: THERE WILL BE NO DOG SHOW FIELD TRIP IN 2022.


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.


Boy and dog running


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

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