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 Nontraditional 4-H'ers can either participate with their own family dogs or
with a Volunteer Team Canine, while Traditional 4-H'ers must compete with their
own family dog.
An integral part
of our Team, Best Friends 4-H Club Canines are as diverse as our 4-H'ers and
our Team Instructors -- ranging in size from Maltese to Mastiff (and everything
in between), impeccably bred or puppy mill castoffs, breed known or breed(s)
just guessed at, "seasoned veterans" or youngsters getting their
first opportunity to compete. Team Canines don't even need prior obedience or
agility training -- as long as they are tolerant of children and other dogs,
all are welcome! (Special one-on-one "tutoring" is available if
All Team Canines
must be at least 6 months of age (12 months to compete in Traditional agility
events), current on all of their shots, and in good health. Canines with life
challenges may be the perfect partners for 4-H'ers with life challenges, as
long as the Canine Team Member is able to handle all of the required obedience
and agility exercises without assistance from his/her human team members.
However, pregnant dogs or dogs having physical or mental conditions that would
significantly impair the dog's performance (and/or cause them pain), such as
serious orthopedic issues or very advanced age, may NOT participate.
As part of the
project, 4-H'ers will learn how to keep their dogs clean and well-groomed. The
"final exam" for the program is competition at the Berrien County
Youth Fair, and all Team Canines will be judged on how well their coats are
groomed to breed standards (or to the standards of the breed it most closely
resembles), and if their eyes and ears are clean, teeth brushed, and toenails
At the end of the
Program, our Team Canines will be given the opportunity to test for a
Citizenship (CGC) title, with the help of their handlers. Their time
spent in the program will also count toward their
Therapy Dog certification.
And last but
certainly not least, throughout the year, Best Friends 4-H Team Canines, with
their 4-H handlers and/or Team Instructors, will be given the opportunity to
participate in a number of special projects such as "Book Hounds"
(Read to a Dog) at local libraries, teaching Canine Safety at local schools,
and even helping teach a seminar on the benefits of Canine Therapy in the
classroom at Andrews University. Please click here to read more about some of the Special
Projects our Team Canines are a vital part of!