A personal memory of dog obedience at Warragul

Bill Richardson, Life Member of the Warragul Dog Club recalls the beginning of Obedience classes at the club..

” In 1974, two families moved to Longwarry from Knox and Croydon. John and Joyce Caldwell and Bill and Sue Richardson. They were Obedience instructors and also committee members of the Knox Obedience Dog Club.

In 1974, they approached the Warragul Kennel Club to start an obedience training section for the club. John and Joyce Caldwell had Miniature Pinschers and a Border Collie and Bill and Sue Richardson had West Highland Terriers and a Miniature Schnauzer.

This offer was accepted at a committee meeting of the Kennel Club. In that era, Kennel (showing) Clubs were not involved in obedience training for various reasons…. to do with showing dogs.

Two club members who I remember were interested in obedience, were Helen Dempsey with Irish Setters (she also ran a small boarding kennel off Christies Road in Warragul) and Fran Bickerdike with working dogs (who also  had  a horse stud situated where Neilsens Funerals are now in Warragul.) Fran later became a Life Member of the club.

Most of the breeds used in obedience in those years were working dogs. Not many owners of other breeds were interested and just about all obedience training was done for trialling and not for socialisation.

When classes eventually started, we used a variety of venues in and around Warragul before settling at Darnum in 1998. These were: the soccer club grounds in Warragul, Burke St. Park in Warragul, near the tennis courts and an area behind the Exhibition building in Warragul.

Although basic obedience training was offered, most training was involved around trialling for officially recognised titles such as Companion Dog (CD) and Companion Dog Excellent (CDX). Training classes included broad jump, high jump, retrieve dumbbell, scent discrimination, heel off lead as well as the basic exercises.

Our first official trial was held in Warragul in 1978. Details of the Trial and results are not recollected except for a few photos I have in my personal collection.

Sue became unwell and she and Bill left the club in 1980 to return to her family in Queensland. John and Joyce Caldwell left some years later.

Bill returned to the club in 2000 after adopting two 12 month old Yorkshire Terriers and recommenced instructing shortly after.”