9 June 2024

Dog obedience club looking to lure new recruits to training facility

| Vanessa Hayden
Start the conversation
Woman kneeling with her two dogs either side of her

President of the Albury Border and Kennel Club Louisa Ehlers says it’s time for some new faces at the club and they hope to draw some new committee members at the AGM in August. Photo: Vanessa Hayden.

Behind every successful community organisation usually stands a super busy, highly efficient and astute club secretary.

For the Albury and Border Kennel Club (ABKC), the story is no different.

Except its story is about to change and the hunt is on for someone to fill the shoes of outgoing secretary Alison Parry who is hanging up her collar, so to speak, to pursue new challenges.

It’s a tale common for many volunteer-run clubs – usually vacancies exist on committees, the bulk of the work is done by a group of core members and the hunt is always on for extras to help out at special events.

In fact, ABKC president Louisa Ehlers said she ended up in her role three years ago because it looked like no-one else was going to put their hand up for the president’s chair.

“It’s an easier role than that of the secretary that’s for sure but I can easily be spending anywhere between two or 20 hours a week at the club, depending on what is happening and if we have trials or competitions on,” she said.

Louisa has belonged to the club for nine years, joining when she got her first Belgian Shepherd and needed additional training.

She says the club, situated on Eames Street (North Albury), under the North Street freeway overpass and right by the train line, is a successful and financially viable organisation.

It holds a regular 12-month program of training nights, shows and competitions, but more help is always needed.

“It’s relatively normal to always have some vacancies on committee but Alison has done an amazing job, particularly through the COVID years. She’s taking on a new role at her work and she’s also got a new puppy so she needs a break from the administration role.

“Our AGM is coming up on August 21 and we hope that someone steps into the secretary role, but we also really need some new faces on the committee.

“We could always use more helpers too when we have our obedience trials, which we hold four times a year, and our agility trials and shows. There’s always a lot of extra work and even someone coming just for an hour or two would make a big difference.”

READ ALSO Riverina Made: Australian animals and furry friends the inspirations for Jen’s pencil portraits

She said a rewarding role that a dog lover would enjoy was that of a steward.

“Stewarding is quite fun. I steward a lot because I don’t always have a dog that is ready to trial.

“There is no prior experience necessary. You get told what you need to do, you are in a ring with a judge and you learn a lot.

“The competitors are very appreciative of you because we can’t have a trial without stewards.

“You get to see how the competition works and you get to see different dogs being handled by different handlers and different styles. You learn a lot about training and competing and you get a free lunch!”

Two dogs in front of agility course

Louisa’s dogs Grace and Jet enjoy a free run around the club’s park and some training on a night when the grounds aren’t in use. Photo: Vanessa Hayden.

The ABKC has been operating for more than 80 years and is one of the oldest dog obedience clubs in Australia. It has around 100 members.

As well as the competitions, they offer several special information seminars throughout the year and hold their training nights every Tuesday and Thursday. Their seven-week Beginner Obedience Course is what underpins the financial success of the club and anywhere between 10 to 20 people sign up on each call-out to learn dog handling skills.

At $100 the program is one of the best value ways you can learn the basics of keeping your dog under control, safe, attentive, happy and, well, obedient.

People with new puppies, people with dogs who are a little bit older and getting a bit naughtier at home or those who have a rescue dog – or a dog for the first time in their lives and are little overwhelmed – can all benefit from the large knowledge base offered at the club.

“There’s so much information about dog training these days,” said Louisa.

“Some of it’s good and some is terrible; it can be hard to find good help. There are private dog trainers out there, but they can be expensive, so if someone has a new dog and doesn’t have a bucketload of money this is a really affordable way to learn to train your dog.

“It’s a very safe environment because it’s fenced in. Every dog that is already here is going to be either well trained or on a leash; occasionally we might have a dog that does a zoomie but we rarely have a dog fight.”

It’s also a good place, she said, where you can train in an environment with lots of distraction.

It comes in the bucketloads here, in the form of other dogs, the trains that whiz by, the planes that fly overhead inbound to Albury airport, the constant thrum and bump of traffic on the overpass and the odd big top tent when the circus sets up next door.

READ ALSO Rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Leo de Kroo remains on the tools keeping guitars in tune across the Riverina

Louisa said like filling roles on the committee, finding enough qualified instructors could be another challenge at the club.

“We have 10-14 on the books but they are not always available all of the time and we need at least four or five on any training night.

“Our instructors get free membership, can train their dogs for free and also get access to the grounds to train or run their own dogs.

“This was one of the reasons I became an instructor as I had a reactive dog myself and wanted a safe space to exercise them.

“If we don’t have enough instructors then the ones we have, have to take every single class and that can make it tricky for them to find the time to train their own dogs.

“More instructors means we can share the load.

“We also need new beginner trainers so that we can get some of our current beginner trainers to the next level.”

The club is also looking for a chief instructor.

Louisa said if it weren’t for club stalwarts such as Billie Louwrier, Gordon Cole and Sam Field – who do a large proportion of the toil, the club would not be as dynamic.

“They do an enormous amount of work, and they are in their 70s and 80s! They also have vast knowledge and skill and are fantastic people to learn from.

“For anyone who loves dogs, training, agility or dogs sports the club is a great avenue to take your passion further.”

Visit the Albury and Border Kennel Club’s website to find out more about the organisation.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Want the best Riverina news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riverina stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.