It's a dog's life for this high school student


"Dad won't ever have to worry about good grades," said 15-year-old, 15-time Junior Showmanship Winner and honor student Kelly Wardenfelt. "I won't give up the shows for anything."

Kelly travels throughout Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey with Justin, a boxer she trains and shows in American Kennel Club-registered dog shows. In 1993, her first year of showing Justin, she won 11 times.

Her proudest accomplishment to date was her participation in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, held at New York's Madison Square Garden last week.

The Westminster show, she explained, is the largest on the East Coast, in which 2,500 champions participate. It is the only championship show of its kind in the world.

Her day began at 4 a.m., when she awoke and prepared 10 dogs she traveled with to journey from the hotel where she stayed to Madison Square Garden. The 10 dogs belong to different owners and are cared for by the professional trainers who Kelly assists.

At 5 a.m. the four-car entourage arrived at Madison Square Garden. The dogs were allowed to tend to their morning rituals in exercise pens, after which each was individually groomed.

Since each dog was a different breed, Kelly had to know how to wash, curl, primp, mousse, spray or chalk each one so its best qualities would stand out. She had to keep each dog in top condition throughout a 12-hour day.

In her category, Junior Showmanship, 120 participated. To qualify, each competition had to have accomplished eight wins in one year before the Westminster face-off.

Kelly said the competitors are divided into four preliminary classes; the best two from each class are chosen. Those eight winners proceed to the Junior Showmanship finals.

The first- through fourth-place winners then vie for the title of Best Junior Handler in the United States.

Although Kelly did not make it to the finals, she did take home a participation award. Feeling positive about her efforts and the "tons of compliments" she received, she chalked up her day as an excellent learning experience.

Kelly is a fast learner, and she has the trophies to prove it. She has so many awards that she has run out of room to display them, so she keeps them safely packed away in boxes.

She displays only the most special and most recent ones in her bedroom.

In addition to showing Justin, Kelly works on training her own puppy, a flat-coat retriever named Lark, toward showing on the circuit.

An honor roll student at Francis Scott Key High School, Kelly also is president of the Carroll County 4-H Dog Club. As the oldest and most accomplished, she serves as a mentor and role model for other club members.

One activity she has planned for the group is a visit from a police K-9 unit from Baltimore, in which a police officer will explain K-9 training techniques.

In April, she will help club members train for the annual 4-H/FFA fair by giving fitting and showing lessons. She is dedicated to 4-H because the Paw Prints 4-H Club is where she began learning the dog-show business five years ago.

Kelly would like to make her skill a profession. When asked if she would choose showing dogs over college, she turned an eye toward the stairs in the family living room.

With some coaxing from her father, who had momentarily stopped at the top of the stairs, she said she would like to earn a degree in early childhood education to have "something to fall back on."

9- "But," she said, "dogs are my real love."

The Union Bridge Fire Company held its 13th annual Service Awards Banquet and dance last Saturday night.

The combined length of service for the 26 recipients who attended was a total of 373 years. The fire company has an active list of 104 firefighters with 1,432 years of service.

Bud Bair received a 50-year pin. He joined the ranks on April 4, 1944.

Acknowledgment for career fire responses went to: Brenda Burdette and Wayne Jones, 250; Chad Green, Michael Green and S. Michael Kreimer, 500; P. Jay Anderson, George Wentz and Steven Wetzel, 750; Steven Keeney and Richard L. Michael, 1,000; JoAnn Boone and David Buffington, 1,250; Robert Bloom Jr. and David Nelson, 1,500; Darlene Harris, 1,750; James Harris, 2,250; and Robert Boone, 2,500.

Career ambulance response recognition went to: Chad Green, 250 hours; and Jeffrey Kreimer, 1,000 hours.

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