By Everett Brazil, III
The Newkirk Herald Journal
NEWKIRK — A small group gathered on the lawn of the Newkirk public Library under a bright autumn sky Friday, Oct. 16. Nearly half those at event were family dogs, who enjoyed getting out of the house or yard for Furry Friend Storytime, a special event to bring love and awareness for those family dogs, and how to train them to be well-behaved.
In attendance were representatives of the Northern Oklahoma Humane Society (NOHS) and Kay-9 Kennel Club, both of Ponca City, to offer information for those participating.
Organizer Hannah Cross is happy with how the program came out, even with a small crowd.
“I thought it went very good,” she said.
The event began shortly after 10 a.m., with Cross reading a children’s story, “How Much is That Doggie in the Window,” a song written by Bob Merrill, retold in story format by Iza Trapani. Other dog-related children’s books are available at NPL.
Cross then provided a few dog training tips, including sitting, heeling and walking as well as how to use a leash.
Cross created Furry Friend Storytime through the 4-H companion animal project, which she started after getting her own dog, a border collie she rescued and named Pepper.
“I wanted to do something to reach out to the community outside the 4-H Club, that had something to do with dogs,” she said.
Cross used her own experience training Pepper in the second segment of the project, lessons she received from the Kay-9 Kennel Club.
“I wanted a dog, so when we adopted Pepper, I was looking for dog-related 4-H projects,” she said. “I wanted to train her and take her to different events and shows.”
Cross indicated there can be problems with adopted dogs, especially with puppies or untrained animals.
“Your dog can have many behavioral issues. A lot of people don’t like it when the dog jumps up on them,” Cross said. “I want to show people how well behaved the dog can be. It will make the experience of owning a dog a lot easier.”
Ashley Villines is the executive director of the NOHS, and was on hand with a table of information on dogs and their care. She was happy to be a part of the event.
“I loved it. Hannah does a really great job with her dog,” Villines said.
The NOHS rescues animals in need and provides them homes with loving families, and said it is important to train them to be loving companions.
“Humane education is very important for the community. A lot of the dogs we get, we get because of behavioral problems,” Villines said. “If the dog is well-behaved, it is a better environment for the home. They are a member of the family.”
Several representatives of the Kay-9 Kennel Club also participated, each with their own dog. The Club provides a lot of training classes and opportunities, and also holds a variety of programs for dog ownership outside of training, such as pack walks, parades and training for competition.
Like Villines, they are happy to see younger generations being active in pet training.
“I’m so glad to see young people get involved with their dogs,” said Kay-9 Kennel Club President Ruth Daugherty. “There are a lot of dog sports that are fun. We want everyone to be a responsible dog owners.”
Most importantly, they are trained to be the newest family member.
“You need a companion that knows the rules and boundaries,” Daugherty said. “If you don’t train your dog, they’ll train you, and they’ll have bad habits.”
Cross is planning a similar presentation, and hopes to have more Furry Friend Storytime hours in the future to continue educating the community on the importance of dog training.
“I really liked preparing for it, and people enjoyed it, so hopefully we’ll have something in the future,” Cross said.
The ultimate goal of training is to provide a safe place for a pet, and make them a well-behaved member of the family.
“You don’t have to do anything fancy, and you can have fun with it,” Cross said. “I think people have respect for people who have their dog trained. They really spend time with their dogs.”