CLEAR BROOK — Thirteen-year-old Andrew Ahrens of Stephens City and his dog Dutch walked away with seven ribbons Thursday morning at the Frederick County Fair Youth Pet show.
The pet show, held inside the pavilion at the fairgrounds, typically draws more than a dozen pet owners who compete with their pets for ribbons in 15 categories. Past participants have included turtles, hermit crabs, hamsters, guinea pigs and bunnies, according to event organizer Jennifer Fost.
But this year Dutch was the only participant.
That didn’t faze Andrew, Dutch or the two judges, who carried on with the competition.
Dutch, a 4-year-old Bernedoodle (a cross between a Bernese mountain dog and a poodle), ultimately walked away with ribbons for Waggiest Tail, Pet with the Longest Tail, Pet with the Longest Ears (not including hair), Pet with the Happiest Face, Biggest Pet, Pet with the Curliest Tail and Most Unusual Pet. He didn’t win prizes in the other eight categories because he wasn’t entered in those.
Fost attributed the pet show’s low turnout to the COVID-19 pandemic, which cancelled last year’s fair and postponed the decision on whether to hold this year’s fair until the spring, giving organizers a shorter window to advertise events. The Miss Frederick County Fair Pageant held Sunday also had only one contestant for similar reasons.
“People are just getting back in the swing of things a little bit,” said Jamie Ahrens, Andrew’s mother. “It’s going to take some time.”
Despite the low-key nature of Thursday’s pet show, everyone was all smiles.
“We really enjoy doing it for sure,” Fost said. “And the kids seem to really love it, too.”
Andrew said his sister told him about the event.
“I thought it would be fun, and I wanted to try it out,” he said.
He said his favorite thing about Dutch is that he is playful and does not get angry or aggressive. Andrew said that Dutch loves the outdoors and likes running and going on hikes, though he noted that he is occasionally lazy.
His mother said Dutch always greets guests at the door and enjoys the company of people.
“He’s just good-natured and really good-tempered,” Jamie Ahrens said. “A good family dog, that’s for sure.”