Protege beats her coach
Published 9:49 am Wednesday, August 12, 2009
By JOHN EBY and NORMA LERNER
Niles Daily Star
CASSOPOLIS – Brooke Lamb maybe did her job as a mentor too well.
Grand champion dog showman at the 158th Cass County Fair went to Hannah Montgomery, 13, of Edwardsburg, with Brooke, a 19-year-old college student, second as reserve grand champion.
“We’re best friends,” Brooke said. “It’s not a competition between us. We help each other to promote the actual true 4-H spirit of striving to be the best. 4-H should be about helping each other succeed instead of competing, so I’m glad the other kids got to see it.”
How many grandmothers brush their dog’s teeth? This grandmother does from Edwardsburg, Gaye Joanis. She lives on Pine Lake Street with her husband, Jim, and is adept at cleaning her Shelty’s teeth, not only because it’s “good for him,” but it keeps his teeth clean for the dog judge.
Gaye says she cleans his teeth because “you’re supposed to.” She buys a special dog’s toothpaste.
Their dog named “Hershey” was shown at the Cass County Fair by their granddaughter, Hannah.
Hannah showed Hershey in both obedience and showmanship and took the top award of grand champion showman and grand champion advanced agility.
Hannah says showmanship is how well the dog is shown to the judge. This involves lots of training, and the dog must learn how to sit, stay, lay and stay. Cleanliness is a big factor as well as knowledge. One question asked by the judge was, “What does it mean to pace your dog?” She said, “None of us got it right.” Their dogs were gaiting, she said. Their gait was shown when the dogs ran beside their handlers on a leash and in a pattern.
Longtime Silver Spurs dog trainer Carrie Wagley stepped down earlier in 2009.
“So, in addition to training her own dog, she worked with more than 30 kids on a regular basis” – about half first-timers, according to Leigh Goyings.
Leigh and her husband, Dale Blunier of Edwardsburg, loaned Brooke their springer spaniel, Arwen, which their son, Tom, used to show at the fair.
“I’m impressed to see someone giving back,” the Edwardsburg teacher said.
“Arwen just loved it. Every time she’d pull up in the car, he’d leap up. Arwen had a blast.”
Brooke qualified for open obedience – only the second time it has happened. A higher level, the dog “not only has to do heeling patterns,” Brooke explained, “but now there is a plastic dumbbell to carry. I have to throw it. She has to wait. Then I send her for it. She gets it and brings it back. Then I’ll throw it over a jump. She has to wait. Then I’ll send her and she has to jump over and bring it back over the jump. You have to have a qualifying score, but I am competing by myself. Tom and I tried it last year, but neither of us qualified.”
Though she turned 19 in June, Brooke, a 2008 Dowagiac Union High School graduate, has another year of fair eligibility remaining, though she’s leaning toward forfeiting coaching “the kids, which I really enjoy. It was more fun to watch them win and one of my own kids, Hannah Montgomery, beat me. I was glad. That was more impressive to me than anything I did.”
Lamb said she finished her first year at Michigan State University, but this fall will be continuing her pre-veterinary studies at Indiana University South Bend (IUSB) through Purdue University.
“I’m still going to be a vet,” said Brooke.
It was in March when Wagley quit as dog leader, then Hannah’s mom, Kellie Montgomery, invited Brooke to help countywide, filling her Thursdays and Sundays. “I had to give up a lot of (other) things,” she said. She is junior dog leader, with Hannah as her assistant, from sending e-mails to making posters.
On Thursday nights, Brooke worked with 10 to 20 youngsters.
On Sunday nights she could conceivably have all 56 exhibitors, including her kid sister, Danielle, 10, who debuted at the weekend dog show.
Dog participants meet at Montgomery’s on Pine Lake Street.
Riley, the golden retriever Brooke showed, she borrowed from Bill and Chris Gamble of Dowagiac.
“I had to retire my dogs this year,” she said. “One has an injury on her foot. The other one has a bad leg. I wasn’t going to show until these people approached me.”
This summer Brooke is working at Bergman Veterinary Medical Center in Cassopolis.
She somehow found time to enter eight still projects, garnering five Best of Shows in ceramics, glass/plastic art, candle making, digital photography and artificial flower arrangement. She previously showed horses.