by Stephanie Troughton
Left to starve and fend for himself on the streets of Los Angeles, one boxer puppy should never have survived, let alone win an award in a local 4-H competition.
But that is what brindle boxer puppy Athena did at Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Country Fest, which hosted the B.C. 4-H centennial event at the Albion Fairgrounds this past weekend.
Members of 4-H clubs from across B.C. and Alberta were grouped into senior and junior categories, then further divided by the number of years they had competed with their dogs in showmanship, obedience and agility.
For accumulating the highest number of points in the junior category for showmanship and obedience, Athena and her handler, Kanaka Creek elementary student Aspen Strikwerda, were presented with the B.C. 4-H junior high aggregate award.
Strikwerda’s mother Karen Jean says she and her family watched Athena develop from an insecure, easily frightened and passively aggressive puppy to a content and markedly more confident three-year-old boxer who has managed to add about 50 pounds to her frame since coming to Maple Ridge.
The family has other boxers and loves the breed.
They also credit the Haney Horse and Hound 4-H club for providing a foundation for youth who want to learn animal training skills and helping animals gain confidence.
Aspen also agrees.
“I could not have won this award without all the help I got, especially from the leaders and senior girls who were always there to help me.”
The family learned about Athena through the non-profit organization called Boxers Without Borders, which was fostering her.
“Love and acceptance was a critical ingredient in raising this rescue puppy,” says Jean.