Celebrating 25 years

The Early Years

At the end of 1998 a small group of people decided Maitland needed an obedience club to help members of the community train their dogs. Before the club could start a lot of organisation had to be done. Things such as acquiring training grounds, and things such as a frig, a cupboard and a cash register to name a few. Computers were rare in those days so everything was hand written. The uniform was jeans and a yellow polo shirt. The yellow shirts were actually the uniform from another club so in a short time the club colours became Royal Blue, Light Blue and White. The club logo was also embroidered on the front of the shirts.

February 1999 Maitland Dog Obedience Club had its first intake of members. 53 beginners and their dogs started that first month and over the years, thousands of Handlers and their dogs have become members. Many returning with future dogs .

Three members who joined that first month are life members of the club. Steve Grainger started with his young black labrador, Khan, Helen Grainger started with her young Staffie, Amy ,and Jerry Cassidy joined with his 18 month old border cross, Princess. Another member starting that first month was Denis Gittoes and his beautiful Samoyed, Colbie. Denis has regularly trained a dog at the club throughout the years and at this time his wife, Koren is training her border. Yet another member, Greg Christie, joined the club in 2003 with his gorgeous rescue Cocker Spaniels, Lucy and Phantom. Still a member, Greg and his wife, Lynne have trained many rescue Cockers that have been lucky enough to find a home with them.

A total of 8 Members have become Life Members, one of whom is now sadly deceased.

September 23/24, 2000, the club held its first Obedience Competition. Dogs NSW allocated this date as a one off in September due to the Olympic Game being held in Sydney and trials in Sydney were either cancelled or moved from their grounds. The following years our trials have been held in July. In the early years there were only three levels of competition, Novice, Open and Utility. Entries were well over 120 competitors so extra Judges had to be contracted due to a limit of competitors per ring.

The dogs were a sight to behold during their work in the ring and majority of dogs qualified. The number of volunteers were amazing with someone for every position, from Steward to BBQ, from selling raffle tickets to manning the canteen. Nothing was left to be done.

For a number of years, the Mayor of Maitland attended to present the Maitland City Council Trophy. It was always a wonderful weekend with competitors travelling from all over NSW to compete. Maitland Council gave permission for Competitors to camp at the oval and the amenities were set up for everything campers needed. It was a very popular trial.
The club held a BBQ the following weekend as a thank you to all the wonderful Volunteers.

In 2007 two more levels of competition were added. the first was Community Companion Dog for new dogs to competition and the other at the highest level of competition, Utility Dog Excellent (UDX). Maitland Dog Obedience Club was the first club in NSW to hold the UDX ring. Due to the level of challenges the dog had to pass, there was much interest when the one and only competitor in this ring was to be judged. All other rings stopped to watch as everyone was interested in the new format for this high level of competition.

Demonstration Teams were popular, with the Demonstration Team and their dogs performing at Mulbring, Maitland Mall, Maitland Agricultural Show, Walka Water Works, Newcastle and 12 years or more at Tocal field Days.

Two Instructors completed the Dogs NSW Instructor courses and helped train the club Instructors. Helen Grainger, who was the Training Coordinator at the time, completed the Human / Canine Relationship course run by Bonnies Dog Training and Queensland University. Helen was awarded a Distinction for her work and was only the third person to achieve this level. Not many clubs have their own Canine Behaviourist.

A few years after the club inception, the then Committee managed to get permission to build a club room at the end of the existing amenities building. The club paid for the majority of the materials and the council provided help with the labour.

The bricks were purchased at a discounted price due to one of the club members working for PGA Brickworks and helped the club attain them. Another Members donated and installed shelving, and a sink.

The club has also offered Puppy School for many years. These were very popular and lots of fun but took a lot of the Instructors time and so unfortunately had to close.

Maitland Dog Obedience Club was always a friendly club with many friendships being made over the years. Couples would start as members and over the years while at the club we would see them engaged, married and some with children. Although most of these members have now left the club, they are still in contact and like to hear how the club is going.

At the end of the year the club holds a Christmas BBQ with games for members and their dogs. Up until around six years ago the games included special games for the children of members and a special guest would come in a red suit and give the children lollies.

At one stage four members from one family spanning three generations volunteered as Instructors and helped at the club and trials.

It was not unusual to see up to 50 Handlers and Dogs on the field each Sunday. Classes were big and training was fun. You could hear the laughter from the field up to the car park.

Maitland Dog Obedience Club has now been helping Handlers and their dogs 25 years. Let’s all work together to ensure this wonderful club celebrates many more milestones into the future.

Helen Grainger

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