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

Best Friends 4-H Club

Team Canines

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

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       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 needed.)

       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 trimmed.

       At the end of the Program, our Team Canines will be given the opportunity to test for a Canine Good 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!


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

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