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Dogs kick off Adams County Fair this year

By Andrea Tritschler

Katie Hix brushed the soft, white fur of her dog, Misty, as the two of them prepared for the Adams County Fair Dog Show on Saturday, July 22.  

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The dog show kicked off the county fair activities with dogs and their owners showing off their skills in obedience, showmanship and handling obstacles.  

Katie, 16, has competed in dog shows for the last six years, four of which she did so well that she proceeded to the state fair.

“I really like bonding with my dog,” she said. “Her ears perk up when she knows we’re doing show stuff.”

Misty is 11 years old. This was her last dog show, but she was ready to take to the ring. She wagged her tail and jogged around with her tongue flapping in the air, moving from station to station, listening intently to Katie and ignoring the other distractions around her.

“She’s getting too old to do some of the things in the rally,” Katie said.

The rally requires dogs to jump or crawl under obstacles as well as follow commands from their handlers. The key to success in the rally and some of the other events is staying calm, Katie said.

The Hix family came out to support Katie and Misty, bringing lawn chairs and plenty of blankets for Misty to rest on. After coming close for a few love pats, she quickly got tired of the excitement and retreated back to her resting spot.

“It’s a family event every year,” said Tauna Hix, Katie’s mom. “It’s a nice way to spend time all together.”

Misty is a mutt, rescued years ago from somewhere in Mississippi.

An estimated four to five million cats and dogs are euthanized in shelters each year, according to the United States Humane Society.  Kill rates spike in high poverty and rural areas, which often have limited access or funding for vaccinations and spaying/neutering services, according to ASPCA.
In 2011, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals started its animal relocation and transport program, which places dogs in open shelters nationwide. The Hixes, from Brighton, found Misty at a Colorado PetSmart.
“She just fit in with everyone right away,” Tauna Hix said. “And doing the shows has made her bond a lot with the family. She looks forward to Wednesday night when she becomes a show dog.”
Wednesday nights leading up to the competition, handlers and their dogs come together to practice their movements and work on their commands.
“I find it really depends on the person or dog,” said Sofia Mena, 18.
Mena and her Pomeranian, Vinny, have competed in the Adams County Fair dog show for 10 years. They’ve gone to the state fair every year.
“It’s the top dog showers from every county,” she said. “It’s a lot more competitive.”
But with 30 contestants in the Adams County dog show, it isn’t a cake walk. Handlers have to face off with other contestants, lining the dogs up as the judge inspects their coats, looking them over while also considering their posture and obedience.
Contestants must walk their dogs around the ring, making a square and then following the tracks diagonally through the center, jogging next to their handlers. The handlers are adept, gently pulling on the dog’s leash when it’s time to go and holding their hands out discretely to the side when it’s time to stop and sit. Some dogs listen better than others.

The show is broken up into two levels: seniors and novices. New dog show participants and veterans compete against each other. While winners are rewarded with trophies and the opportunity to compete at a more competitive level, the dogs are rewarded with treats. Lots of treats.
Misty looks up at Katie expectantly waiting for treats after the pair finish their obedience and showmanship run.  Both are grinning, celebrating their win and their last show together.