CITY OF TONAWANDA — At the age of 12, Claire Ermer of Tonawanda has already earned many honors in the dog show ring — including, most recently, a perfect score and blue ribbon in novice agility and the title of New York state grand champion in grooming and handling at the state fair in Syracuse.
But when asked what she values most from the past handful of years, it’s not the ribbons she mentions.
“Friends,” she said. “You make a lot of new friends. You get a better relationship with your dog, and you have a lot of fun.
“You get to meet a lot of people ... human friends, dog friends.”
At the state fair, Ermer, a sixth-grader at Tonawanda Middle School, competed with her Shetland Sheepdog, Denver in the 4H dog show division. In the novice agility category, she had a clean run, completing a course of jumps, tunnels, A-frame, teeter-totter and table with a perfect score of 100 for a blue ribbon. She also was awarded the title of New York state grand champion in grooming and handling B.
For this class, competitors had to answer questions to describe their dog’s breed origins and purpose, and to locate structural body parts of the dog. Additionally, the competitors had to showcase their dogs grooming and movement in the show ring.
At her home in the City of Tonawanda recently, Claire showed off a collection of awards and ribbons — many blue — including her purple grand champion ribbon, and many of the tools of her “trade,” including brushes and nail clippers. Looking on were Denver and the family’s other dogs, corgis Rocky and Jiggy, and Dancer, a Schipperke.
“I started 4H when I was about 8 years old,” she said. “I trained Jiggy for obedience; he’s retired now. Denver, I started last year for grooming and handling. This year, I will train Rocky or Denver.”