Hand pets bring smiles and insight during county fair exposition at Pratt library

Edward J. Naughton
Pratt Tribune
Brecken Wilson shares her cat, Mr. Whiskers, with the public at the 2021 Pratt County Fair 4-H hand pet show, held this year at the Pratt Public Library.
Local veterinarian and Pratt County Fair Hand Pets Superintendent Luann Bergner awards Miley O'Moore a grand champion ribbon. O'Moore also received awards for Most Knowledgeable and Most Unusual pet this year, at the fair show held in the Pratt Public Library last week.
Keesha Humble holds her black teddy bear hamster, Peppermint, that she used for her 4-H hand pet project this year.

Pratt County 4-H hand pet participants brought their projects to the Pratt Public Library on Monday, July 19 for their part of 2021 Pratt County Fair judging. Six young ladies participated, bringing in two hamsters, a gerbil, cockatiel bird, aquarium fish, and a wily cat named Whiskers for judging and evaluation. 

The 4-H girls brought their animals one-by-one to the front of the auditorium room in the library, making use of portable cages to prevent any esacpes.

The praticipants did their best to answer questions asked by 4-H judge Alicia Boor, talking about the characteristics pertinent to their particular pet, and whether the pet they cared for tended to be kind or sweet and not bite at all, or a little moody at times and bite occasionally but with no harm.  

Boor was assisted by Dr. Luann Bergner, local veterinarian and Pratt County 4-H supporter.

When Brecken Wilson came up with her wily cat named Whiskers in a pet taxi, she said, "My cat likes to play with mice outdoors."  

Once the cat was withdrawn from the pet taxis and placed on the presentation table by Wilson, being loosely held by its owner for a few minutes while she talked, until Bergner suggested, as a precaution, that someone might want to shut the back door to the room because once the cat was out of the bag it might jump off the table for nervousness and escape.

4-Her Keesha Humble of Golden Valley 4-H, brought her pet to the front of the room and she said many things about it, displaying her knowledge of the personality characteristics of her black teddy bear hamster named Peppermint as sweet and calm.

"She is like a rock climber because she climbs up the side of the cage," Humble said. 

Humble said that black teddy bear hamsters usually are not as aggressive, as for instance, a dwarf hamster might be, so she naturally prefers her black teddy bear hamster over other hamster types she could have chosen.

When awards were given at the end of the event, it was Humble who earned a special award ribbon from the judge for Most Devoted to her pet. 

She displayed extraordinary awareness of her pet's habits and needs, and her meticulous care of Peppermint was obvious to everyone as she talked about taking care of the animal on a day-to-day basis, with feed and water, and cage cleaning periodically.  

Eva Riffey, 7 years old, was very proud of her little fish she brought in a mini-aquarium unit to the hand pet project. When asked by the judge why she liked to have a fish for a pet, and she has other fish at home too, she said, "My fish is pretty."

All of the girls who participated in the hand pet project were encouraged to write individual thank-you letters after the close of the event in their own handwriting to South Fork Veterinary Hospital in Pratt. They were informed by Dr. Bergner that once receipt of their individual thank-you letters were acknowledged by South Fork Veterinary Hospital, they would thereupon receive a special reward as South Fork is sponsoring this event.

First in the Most Unusual Pet category was Miley O'Moore of Golden Valley 4-H, who impressed everyone with her pet cockatiel bird nick-named Yellow Bird. O'Moore said, "We give her a feed seed mix with millet, but she really likes snickerdoodles."

O'Moore said that Yellow Bird likes to have baths.

"She talks too and says things like pretty bird," she said.

O'Moore said that these kind of birds require about 14 hours of sleep per day and they mate for life. Her bird is about 10 years old. She got this bird at a very young age.

Since O'Moore made such an informative presentation of her bird, she was honored with an additional special award ribbon - Most Knowledgeable about Pet, thus O'Moore tallied two awards altogether from the judge:  Most Unusual Pet and Most Knowledgeable about pet.

Each participant was given a blue ribbon for their excellent work in making presentations at this event. The girls who received blue ribbons besides the special award winners were as follows: 

1.  Riley Griffith, age 10, rodent (hamster) presentation for Southwest 4H.

2.  Cara Riffey, age 9, rodent (gerbil) presentation for Glendale Reapers 4H.

3.  Eva Riffey, age 7, aquarium pet (glow fish) for Glendale Reapers 4H.

4.  Brecken Wilson, age 7, cat, for Golden Valley 4H.