Alexandra Broadhurst, a junior at Urbana High School, has been showing and training dogs for years. Recently, she showed her poodle, Lucy, at the Great Frederick Fair where the team won grand champion in showing and fitting class. Not only did they win first place in the showing and fitting class, but they also won rally class, which is how well a dog follows obedience signs.
Broadhurst has been showing and training dogs with the Tailwaggers for seven years, as soon as she got her first poodle. The Tailwaggers is a county-wide 4-H club, active for 25 to 30 years and currently led by Jennifer Leck and Sarah Cleaver. The club focuses on dog projects—training, breeding and showing.
Cleaver has been a club leader since 2014 and she “loves seeing the kids who participate grow in confidence as dog handlers and in life in general. Dogs don’t always listen or are slow to learn, so our students learn tenacity and patience. Dogs don’t always perform as well as they practiced, so our students learn resiliency and grace under pressure. And through it all as our students train and work together, they develop deep caring and compassion for each other. It’s a beautiful thing to see.”
The club has approximately 20 members. Membership is open to youth ages eight to 18. Members who are over the age of 14 are eligible to participate in basic dog training at Catoctin Kennel Club. Tailwaggers’ members also engage in various service and outreach projects, including Blessings in a Backpack, Operation Christmas Child, Warrior Canine Connection (a service dog fundraiser to help veterans), and a pet food drive for the Urbana Food Bank.
Broadhurst has competed in a total of four shows this year, including Wills Fair at the Howard County Fairgrounds, the Maryland State Fair, and the Tailwagger Dog Show at the Catoctin Kennel Club. Every Wednesday night the Tailwaggers Club meets for classes in dog training, showmanship, rally, obedience and agility. Broadhurst chose to show her poodle because they “are incredibly smart, and they love working with people. … They don’t shed, so it keeps the house nice and clean for the most part. They are just a great dog all around, and I like their size.” She views the club as a fellowship, where they can all unite and come together through their dogs.
About 18 months ago, Broadhurst found Lucy living with her breeder, Connie Hackenburg. Shortly after, she began training her through the Tailwaggers Club. Before Broadhurst joined the Tailwaggers, she competed with the American Kennel Club.
For more information about joining the Tailwaggers Club and other 4-H clubs, visit the University of Maryland Extension Frederick County website and select the 4-H Youth and Development tab.