Ashley Weems, 17, of Peabody, loves her 4-H project dog, Rex. The blue heeler, border collie, Australian shepherd mix is solely devoted to her, and he didn’t get that way by accident.
“When I first got him as a puppy two years ago, I did no- contact training for the first 30 days,” Weems said. “Now he is really loyal to me, he is very attentive and always makes sure I am OK.”
Weems explained that no- contact meant that she was the only person her dog associated with during their 30-day introductory period.
“That was hard for my family,” she said. “I had a new 10-week-old puppy and they couldn’t have anything to do with him. But that made training him is so much easier because now he knows exactly to whom he is expected to respond. It makes the dog very loyal.”
Weems, a member of Peabody Achievers 4-H Club also shows horses and takes photographs as part of her 4-H experience this year, in addition to dog training.
“Rex is with me wherever I go,” she said. “He is always checking on me and so willing to please.”
Weems said having a dedicated dog leader made her experience with the project so much more educational.
“Deb Geis is so great,” she said. “I go to her for advice and she is always willing to help me and my dog get better.”
Weems also said that being a part of 4-H helped her put special emphasis on the time she spent training Rex.
“I just love 4-H and the dog project because it gives me time to spend doing what I enjoy most,” she said.
Saturday at the Marion County Fair, Weems and 10 other 4-H club members from around the county exhibited their dogs in showmanship, obedience, and agility classes. A judge awarded ribbons in several categories, rewarding participants for months of hard work and training.
Weems participated in obedience and agility classes with Rex.