Neighbors in Social Circle, from left, Ben Walters, 13, and Cameron McDevitt, 9, bathe their dogs, from left, Mater and Sandy, demonstrating one aspect of responsible dog ownership, the theme of this year's middle school essay contest presented by the Conyers Kennel Club
What does it take to be a responsible dog owner? If you're a middle-schooler and want to win a cash prize, answer that question in about 600 words and submit it to the Conyers Kennel Club. They just might reward you for your efforts.
The Conyers Kennel Club is sponsoring an essay contest for sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-graders from Rockdale and Newton counties in which students must expound on the points they believe are important when caring for a dog. Winners could take home $100, $75 or $50.
Conyers Kennel Club officials will announce the essay contest winners at the club's annual Responsible Dog Ownership Day and Meet-A-Breed event on Sept. 11, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the pavilion on Main St. in Olde Town Conyers. Entries are due by Aug. 31.
Rules for the contest can be found at www.conyerskennelclub.org.
Merry Carol Houchard, a member of Conyers Kennel Club for more than 30 years, said she's sifted through hundreds of entries for past contests. Some kids write about their own dogs and even include photographs, said Houchard. One child used the contest as an exercise to prove he was ready to take care of a dog all by himself.
"He had been wanting a dog of his own forever and after writing the essay he said, 'Mom and Dad, now that I know how to be a responsible dog owner, can I have a puppy?'" Houchard said.
During the Meet-A-Breed event, Conyers Kennel Club members will bring their own purebred dogs and a club representative will give a brief history on each breed. Dog owners will also be available to answer questions from visitors.
The club members will also perform conformation handling demonstrations, which show how the dog would move in the ring; obedience demonstrations, such as having the dog perform heel, long sits, and long downs, off-lead; and good citizen exercises, which includes getting the dog to sit, stay, walk (without bothering other dogs or humans), and letting other people touch and brush it.
"It's a good event for any dog owner, it doesn't matter if your dog is a purebred or mixed breed," said Houchard of the Meet-A-Breed. "It will give you an opportunity to meet other breeds and see how obedience and good citizenship can benefit you."
The Conyers Kennel Club will also offer fall dog training classes each Tuesday, from Sept. 18 to Oct. 23. Classes are $5 each. Handling classes, which offer the dogs and their owners the opportunity to simulate being in the ring, run 7 to 8 p.m. and beginner obedience classes, which allow owners to train their dogs to achieve the Canine Good Citizen Award, are 8 to 8: 30 p.m.