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4-H Dog Club members featured on national stage

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 26 February 2017 at 9:44 am

Kaitlyn Johnson, 13, appears on the cover of the January 2017 issue of Front and Finish, a national on-line magazine for dog trainers.

Two members of the Orleans County 4-H Heelers Dog Club have been receiving national attention.

Nicole Mrzywka traveled to New York City in February to compete with her English springer spaniel, Champ. Cerise Renaissance Man, for the Westminster Dog Show; and Kaitlyn Johnson was the featured cover story in the January 2017 issue of Front and Finish, a national on-line magazine for dog trainers, with her rough collie dog Poirot.

Johnson, 13, is a 7th grader at Oakfield-Alabama Middle School. She says she loves to do obedience with Poirot.

“Poirot is not only my dog, he is my best friend,” she wrote in the article for Front and Finish.

Her mom, Terri Lewis, said Kaitlyn competed in the Cleveland Classic Dog Show in Ohio in December 2016 with one-year old Poirot.

“She was the only youth to compete in obedience that weekend and placed 2nd in her class,” Terri said. “The judge was so impressed with her that he asked if she would be willing to write an article for an online magazine he publishes (Front and Finish). Kaitlyn was very proud to have the opportunity and submitted her article. She was the cover story.  We are very proud of her accomplishments and are looking forward to continued success.”

Nicole Mrzywka, 15, is a sophomore at Holley Central High School. She participated in the prestigious 2017 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York City on Feb. 14. Nicole competed in the Breed Classes – Best of Breed Competition – with her two year old dog, Champ. Cerise Renaissance Man.

Provided photo: Nicole Mrzywka gets her English springer spaniel ready on Feb. 14 for Westminster Dog Show.

“It was a really great competition,” Nicole said. She explained that dogs are judged on how well they are built and meet the standard for their breed and how well they move. “I was very nervous.”

She said this was her first experience at the Westminster show and she did not expect to get very far this year, but, “as a learning experience, I learned so much.”

Some dogs are invited to participate in the Westminster show, she said, and others are welcome to participate if they have acquired a number of points in previous dog shows.  Nicole said her springer spaniel had the points to qualify and she decided she would like to see what it would be like to take part.

Nicole said she hopes to be back at Westminster next year to take part in the Jr. Showmanship competition.

“My favorite thing is getting into the ring and showing,” she said. “It is what I love.”

File photo by Tom Rivers: Nicole Mrzywka, far right, is shown at the Orleans County 4-H Fair last July during one of the dog shows.

Provided photo: Kaitlyn Johnson and her dog, Poirot, are pictured after a competition.

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