Butler's After School Learning Time students were treated Thursday to a visit from the Fort Dodge Kennel Club.
Kennel Club members showed their dogs to the BLAST students with a series of demonstrations.
"We're going to do some exercises for the kids," Kay Johnson, club vice president, said. "They do all kinds of things. They can go through the tunnel, go over jumps, they can go on lead, off lead. It shows, if you really work with your dog, how much they can do."
-Messenger photo by Brandon L. Summers
Pat Saunders, Fort Dodge Kennel Club public relations director, walks with Dixie for the BLAST students at Butler Elementary Thursday.
According to Pat Saunders, public relations director, the Kennel Club is a group of people who "love to train their dogs, work with their dogs and have fun with their dogs."
"We travel to shows and do all sorts of things with them," she said. "We do agility, we do rally, we do obedience, some have done confirmation. We do therapy work, go to the nursing homes. We just take the dogs for a walk, as a group."
Club members began by showing the students basic obedience. The dogs walked with their owners, heeled when the owner stopped, matched their owner's speed and came when called.
It wasn't all exhibition, though. The students also learned about safety.
"We will be showing the kids what the dogs can do, but in between exercises we will also be doing a safety talk," Saunders said. "How to meet a strange dog, if there's one loose on a playground, how to meet one if there's somebody out walking their dog, the proper way to ask if you can pet the dog. It's to stop kids from getting bit."
The first step, Saunders said, is to first ask the owner.
"If they say yes, you show (the dog) the back of your hand and the dog sniffs it," she said. "Once they sniff it, you can pet the dog. Dogs prefer to be petted under their chin, not patted on the top of the head. That can give them headaches."
The students also learned how to control their dog if they meet another dog.
Saunders warned about antagonizing dogs.
"No barking or growling at dogs you see, especially if they're tied in a backyard," she said. "We don't want you to tease the dogs, because if the dog ever gets loose they know they've been teased and they will be more prone to bite."
The club also participates in Reading with Sophie every Tuesday, Lyndsey Steck, BLAST coordinator, said.
"Norma Russell Adson comes in and brings her dog Sophie and reads with the kids," she said. "We take the lower level reading kids with the dogs and sometimes its easier for them to read to the dogs than it is another child."
Every Wednesday, the club brings a therapy dog to the after-school program.
Steck said the BLAST students enjoy the program's monthly guest speaker.
"They really enjoy the switch up," she said. "I have a guest speaker every month for the kids so they have something fun and different to do here."