After asking if everyone understood the rules, Judge Dawn Williams’ question was answered with a confident bark from a spaniel.

The 4-H Dog Show was hosted in the show arena at the Delaware County Fairgrounds yesterday. There were 10 pairs of dogs and owners competing in five different divisions of obedience, 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B and 3B, and three also competed in the intermediate division of showmanship.

For the first portion of the obedience contest, dogs and their owners were called in individually to be directed by the judge. The crowd, hoping not to disturb the competing pair, listened to Williams’ say phrases like “halt,” “turn,” “about turn,” “slow,” “forward” and “exercise finish," while watching the trainer relay the message to their dog, hoping they would listen.

With four years of experience, sisters Emily and Leah Hayes know that getting your dog to listen can be a hit or miss, even after all of the hours of training.

Beginning in March, 4-H offers training every Tuesday until the show, however, most trainers work with their dogs on their own as well. The divisions for the competition are split by the level of experience and amount of training.

Those competing in 1A have never been in a dog show before and their dogs have not been formally trained before February of 2017, while those in the 3B division both trainers and their dogs have been in shows before and are have higher expectations.

One by one, the dogs are walked up and down the mats, walking in figure eight patterns and examined. There are a number of things that could cause a deduction in the score, which is out of 200 points, and sitting during standing examinations is a point deduction that Leah Hayes and her Labrador retriever Sarah have encountered often.

“The thing that she struggles with every year that we do this is stand for exam,” Leah Hayes, Delta High School freshman, said. “She never does it in practice and then she just gets lucky enough to stand for the whole time the judge walks over to her.”

After each dog in the division has had their time on the mat, all dogs in the division are called out for the stay-sit and stay-lay portion of the obedience competition. First, the trainers are allowed two commands: sit and stay. After the dogs are sitting, the trainers walk away and are only allowed to tell their dog to “stay” once.

The dogs must stay sitting for the entire time required, which varies for each division, and then do the same in the lay-stay portion to receive 30 points.

“It’s nerve wracking during the stays,” Emily Hayes, a Delta Middle School seventh grader, said. “You’re just begging for them not to get up.”

Following those two portions, the dogs are dismissed and a new division is brought out. After each division has competed in the obedience portion, awards are distributed.

Before the show, Justyce Chapman, 9, Yorktown, was nervous to compete with her poodle Frenchy for their first time, but sported a big smile after being announced the division 1A champion. The smile became even bigger when she was awarded second place overall in obedience.

“It feels really good,” Chapman said. “I didn’t think that I would get first place because I’m a 1A and this is my first year.”

Her mother, Trisha Chapman said that her daughter had been working hard all year, going to workshops and practicing on her own once, even twice a day. While she felt Frenchy tugging on her leash a little bit during the competition, Justyce Chapman is proud with her dogs overall performance and is excited to get back to work for next year's competition.

Lydia Burkle and her Shetland sheepdog RJ won division 1B, Carly O’Dell and her Golden retriever Peaches won division 2A, Leah Hayes and her Labrador retriever Sarah won division 2B and Caitlin Maddox and her shih tzu Flower won division 3B.

Leah Hayes was surprised to also be awarded Obedience Grand Champion. Next year, however, she is unsure if she will return because her sister’s dog Hank, who is in the same division, will not be returning due to his age.

Emily Hayes, Hank, Carly O’Dell, Peaches, Caitlin Maddox and Flower all decided that they would also compete in the voluntary showmanship portion of the show. In showmanship, the dogs take another lap around the mats, are inspected a bit closer by the judge and stand in a line in front of the judge before being released so that scores can be tallied.

Maddox and Flower were awarded showmanship grand champion and overall showmanship grand champion and Emily Hayes and Hank won reserve showmanship champion.

The final awards given out were grand champion and reserve champion of both the obedience and showmanship competitions. After adding scores from both competitions, Carly O’Dell and Peaches won reserve champion and Emily Hayes and Hank were the grand champions.

There are still several other 4-H events scheduled to take place in the upcoming week, but dog show leader Brenda Grice said that she feels this is one of the tougher competitions.

Why? Because “I’ve never seen anyone call their sheep to come and sit in front of them,” Grice said.