After work, the Tailwaggers are pooped out
I was hanging out at the dog show recently at the Canfield Fairgrounds, talking with the people who scoop the poop.
That's right, pooper-scoopers.
Who puts up with this kind of crap? For starters, the Youngstown Tailwaggers Club, a 4-H group.
Its members have been scooping the poop during the dog show at the fairgrounds for more than 15 years. The show sponsors pay the group for its valuable service.
Dressed in their purple Tailwaggers Club T-shirts, holding a shovel, a pan and two buckets, these dedicated dog enthusiasts ride around the fairground in golf carts sniffing out every smelly transgression.
Generally, the owners of the dogs participating in the show clean up their own pets' messes. But every once in a while, a poodle will relieve herself when her owner isn't looking. (Yuck.) Or, a Mastiff will have an emergency on the way to the ring. (Major yuck!)
Then, it's the Tailwaggers' pooper-scoopers to the rescue! They hop off their golf cart, shovel the infraction into the pan, plop it into one bucket and throw sawdust on the affected area from the second bucket. They work like a well-oiled machine.
"This is the only fund-raiser we do," says Tiffany Talarico, a teenager from Austintown and a 3-year Tailwaggers member. "We don't have to sell candles or anything like that."
"Would you rather sell candles?" I ask hesitantly.
"Oh no!" Tiffany beams. "This is fun! We get to hang out together. We talk and play cards in between runs."
"It's like a scavenger hunt," says 12-year-old Jack McDonald of Canfield, a 3-year member.
"I would rather scoop poop," says Tammy Talarico, Tiffany's sister. "You get to talk with people and you see all kinds of dogs."
Truly, it is the perfect partnership for both groups. The Tailwaggers provide the dog show with a much-needed service, and the dog show provides the Tailwaggers with the knowledge and hope for where these young masters may be with their dogs in the future.
Every Tuesday evening at 7, the Tailwaggers members and their dogs meet at the Experimental Farm in Canfield. They are divided into groups, beginners and advanced. The groups work on obedience, agility, grooming and handling.
Throughout the spring, members study and discuss the workbook for their dog group and create a scrapbook or poster about their pet.
"I know for every picture I take, I'm going to have to write a paragraph," Jack says with just a hint of disdain.
In mid-July, the Tailwaggers go in front of a panel of judges and are questioned about the contents of the workbook and graded on their scrapbook or poster. All Tailwaggers members also perform various maneuvers with their dogs. If they rank high enough, they qualify for competition at the Ohio State Fair.
While acknowledging it is hard work, Jack's studying, picture-taking and writing have paid off. He and his golden retriever have qualified for state competition every year since he joined Tailwaggers.
Maggie Beckett of Austintown also has experienced years of success at state competitions. A Tailwaggers member for 11 years, Maggie is now an adviser for the group.
"I train obedience and agility," she says.
Maggie's 5-year-old son, Joshua is a "Cloverbud" in the group.
"4-H is for 9- to 18-year-olds," the founder of Tailwaggers, Bob Monsler, explains. "But we have 5- to 8-year-olds. They're called 'Cloverbud.'"
Joshua was just about to tell me about his collie dog when his mother's two-way radio began to screech.
"Cleanup at ring 24," she announced to the group as they sprang to action. Looking at me, she said apologetically, "We've got to go."
"Oh, sure," I said, understandingly. When nature calls, duty falls on the pooper-scoopers.
XFor information about the Tailwaggers, call the Extension Office at (330) 533-5538 or visit them during the Canfield Fair next to the Junior Fair office.