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Thread: The future of retriever clubs

  1. #31
    Senior Member Miriam Wade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarge View Post
    Thank you to all the members of FT/HT clubs that work so hard to make the events possible.

    As a relative new particpant in FT/HT I cannot comment on member retention. However, my most discouraging experience with the game came after completing all three series of a Master Test, waiting for the compilation of scores and judges eating lunch (over two hours), only to be told I did not receiving a qualifying score. It was a long drive home.

    Retaining new particpants in the game will require some way to expedite the event process.
    Do you mind if I ask if you have any experience working a test? You mention judges spending 2 hours eating lunch and going over scores. They just set up and sat through every aspect of the test you ran. No matter the weather they are there for the duration with very little opportunity for a break of any kind. That 2 hour lunch may have been the first chance they've had to breathe all day and have a bite to eat. I'll be honest- a 2 hour break in the MIDDLE of a test would annoy me, but in this situation they may have had a large stake. It's not always clear cut how things are going to add up until you look at the judge's sheets. Then there is the matter of discussing the dogs that one judge would like to pass and the other would not.

    Hopefully you've workedan event in some capacity so you know that it's a lot of effort from long before handlers run to long afterwards. Don't just be a participant in terms of being a handler-help make the event happen!

    M
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    Mitch Patterson '07

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  2. #32
    Senior Member Hunt'EmUp's Avatar
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    I don't know my experience with clubs is no matter your rooster 5-10 people work all the time, are at every event, and do a lot to get others involved. Memberships go up, a lot of events are hosted and still 5-10 people work, same people every event. The same people in setting up in the morning, who never have to "leave early", and end up staying late putting things away. Go on for a few years people eventually get burnt out, but membership still wants lots of training days and events, that majority of membership shows up to, but only 5-10 people work, sometimes pulling teeth to get people out of chairs. Soon 5-10 people get a tad bitter and begin to think that 5-10 people can run the club, exactly as they want with far less headaches and far less work, perhaps even get some training in on their own dogs every once in awhile. They close off the ranks, training days become private matters. It works out OK until a few of those 5-10 people decided to hang it up and then either a new group of 5-10 take over or the club dies.

    So what did we start doing? We started assigning different shifts for training days and tests, a morning setup shift and a afternoon cleanup shift. You'd be surprised how happy, non-bitter willing to help out newbies, you can keep those 5-10 people, when there's a second shift (2-3 people) who shows up mid-day Sun, after a long weekend of testing to clean-up and tell the morning shift (6-7 people) to LEAVE everything's taken care of
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  3. #33
    Senior Member Miriam Wade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hunt'EmUp View Post
    I don't know my experience with clubs is no matter your rooster 5-10 people work all the time, are at every event, and do a lot to get others involved. Memberships go up, a lot of events are hosted and still 5-10 people work, same people every event. The same people in setting up in the morning, who never have to "leave early", and end up staying late putting things away. Go on for a few years people eventually get burnt out, but membership still wants lots of training days and events, that majority of membership shows up to, but only 5-10 people work, sometimes pulling teeth to get people out of chairs. Soon 5-10 people get a tad bitter and begin to think that 5-10 people can run the club, exactly as they want with far less headaches and far less work, perhaps even get some training in on their own dogs every once in awhile. They close off the ranks, training days become private matters. It works out OK until a few of those 5-10 people decided to hang it up and then either a new group of 5-10 take over or the club dies.

    So what did we start doing? We started assigning different shifts for training days and tests, a morning setup shift and a afternoon cleanup shift. You'd be surprised how happy, non-bitter willing to help out newbies, you can keep those 5-10 people, when there's a second shift (2-3 people) who shows up mid-day Sun, after a long weekend of testing to clean-up and tell the morning shift (6-7 people) to LEAVE everything's taken care of
    I'm going to stop after this. I don't disagree with what you wrote, but attitude can sometimes play a part. I know folks who have worked and not been respected in the process. You can't expect some new person to sit out in the canoe all day or plant the blind with no view of what's going on. I know some absolutely super folks who you would love to hunt and train with. These aren't whiners by nature, but really nice guys. After a couple of times being made to feel as though they were there only to work and not being offered any help, it no longer becomes attractive to them. It's a matter of give and take.

    M
    "You can put pressure on a dog, you canít take it backÖ"

    Mitch Patterson '07

    MHR Wadin's Katie Lied CD, SH, WCX (11/25/93-1/27/07 Rest Well Kate)
    Brassfire's Brass in Pocket JH, WCX ** (4 Master passes)
    Brassfire's New England Patriot (New Pup!!!)

  4. #34
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    There is a big disconnect between hunters and FT/HT people. I understand most HT/FT participants hunt but most hunters arent interested in the games. I am a non participating member of our local HRC. There isn't much there for me as a hunter. The games have taken on their own meaning and require training that isnt necessary for hunting. Look what training a dog has become to some. It is charts and diagrams, and piles, etc..Technical training isnt all that fun for most people. When you see the process from start to finish it makes sense but you throw a hunter in there and explain that you are making a point hot for de-cheating purposes they lose intrerest really quickly.

    I do some that of too and enjoy some of it but the competitive nature takes away enough that I dont participate much.

    These clubs are for people chasing titles and ribbons not about having fun with the dogs.

  5. #35
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    It sounds like you need to get rid of some of those people. Someone that knows whats going on needs to step in and teach in that situation.
    Quote Originally Posted by J. Walker View Post
    Since no one else has said it, I will. One issue, frankly, is the treatment of dogs at some training days. The last couple of club training days I attended, there were several people absolutely lighting up young dogs with the collar. One horse's rear end in particular thought it would be a good idea to hold up the cheaty water blind scenario we were running to revisit swim-by with his young, poorly trained, inexperienced dog right in the middle of the line to the blind after his dog hacked up the water blind and, by gosh, that dog had to pay the price. The poor dog was screaming for all he was worth. (This same guy keeps handling and burning the same young dog on marks and wonders, I'm sure, why the dog still cannot mark. That poor dog hasn't been taught anything but has been punished for everything.) That same session, an old member who I've literally never seen lift a finger to help with anything not even so much as sitting in a chair and occasionally planting blinds, was burning up her young dog while he was out of sight after overrunning a blind when he had no idea why he was getting burned. When I say "burning up," I mean transmitter all the way up and holding the buttons down continuously so the dog was wrong no matter what he did. Afterward, she said, "If he keeps this up, I swear I'm going to kill him!" This was a dog about two years-old at the time. I wish I were joking or exaggerating but that is her actual quote. Fortunately, a club officer pulled the lady aside afterward and basically told her the she didn't want to see that kind of stuff at the training days. At a previous session, another older member just had to show a first time attendee how to get a reliable fetch so he took the dog behind the trucks and was literally dragging the horrified young dog by his ear while pinching it the whole time all the way to the bumper. That's the last time I saw that man and his young dog. Ask yourself, if you were new to training dogs and really wanted just a decent hunting dog to also be your buddy, if you witnessed that kind of thing early on, would you come back let alone brings your kids??? All it takes is one incident like this to sour any newcomer to retriever clubs and events. By no means am I saying it's the only issue or that everyone at training days is putting dogs through this kind of thing. However, the fact that this stuff is not unusual at all sure isn't helping things.

  6. #36
    Senior Member Jerry Beil's Avatar
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    I kinda think there are challenges on both ends.

    At the high end, with field trials, they've gotten so difficult that the average person isn't really capable of having any chance of success. It takes a combination of the right dog, along with an immense amount of high quality training. As it becomes more of a pro game, that continues to escalate to the point where a do it yourself trainer has a nearly impossible time competing against dogs trained professionally. The very nature of that is going to cause there to be less people running at that level. If I have my dog professionally trained, I don't really need a club to help me. I just show up at events and run my dog. The future of FTs are going to depend on people wanting to go to the next step after hunt testing, or wanting the competitive venue.

    I think there's a ton of opportunity for hunt test focused clubs as long as the standard remains something that is attainable for a person and their dog without resorting to professional trainers. The challenge is that so many people have no idea of what a good retriever is really capable of. They get a decently bred dog, and mess around with sit and here and stay and roll over and beg and speak etc, and throw some tennis balls and the dog brings them back - WOW - what a great dog. They take it hunting and the dog's instinct kicks in and it goes and brings back some birds - Hey, I have a cracker jack retriever. They don't see how much more is possible, and some don't care. Heck, compared to hunt test or FT 6 moth old pups, these dogs basic obedience is usually appalling. Take a walk in the neighborhood and tell your dog to sit, and watch how amazed folks are with how well behaved your dog is. People just don't know.

    If clubs want to grow memberships and get new people in, they need to focus on providing value to the people starting out. You're not going to get someone from I think I want a lab as a pet and might want to teach him to retrieve all the way to I want to run my dog in a field trial right away. You need to present training days that offer more than a hunt test setup, but instead run more drills that teach some of the concepts. Most of these are good for beginning dogs as well as advanced dogs, or can be adjusted for both. Similarly, new folks with less advanced dogs need to be made to feel comfortable running a setup in a much less demanding way. Instead of a triple with 3 100+ yard marks and a long tricky blind, they can move up and run them as 3 singles and skip the blind, but the majority of new folks don't realize their dog can't do the triple, so they need some mentoring, and need to see older members doing the same thing.

    As clubs, we need to get more information out there so people starting out with a retriever pup realize what these dogs are capable of. If your dog sits on command and comes on command, you've surpassed 95% of dogs out there. Folks take their dogs to Petsmart for a training class and think that their dog is as good as it can get when it sits sometimes and comes when you have a treat. When people see these dogs do some of the things they do in tests and trials, they're amazed and interested. Problem is they don't see that. Once you're involved, you can't see how invisible we are to the outside world. You might have to grow and nurture the interest over the lifespans of 2 or 3 dogs since most can't overlap to any large extent.
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  7. #37
    Senior Member John Robinson's Avatar
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    I look at retriever clubs two ways, there are retriever Clubs who's sole reason for existing is to host one or two field trials a year, and or hunt test, and there a clubs that are more geared to helping people train their dogs. When I started, the clubs I knew and was involved in did both and some still do. Presently the situation that works best for me is to be involved with a larger club in helping put on field trials and such, partake in the occasional Picnic Trials or other club days, but train on a daily or few times a week basis, with a smaller group of guys and gals who live nearby and have work hours that are compatable with mine. I also belong to a club that just puts on field trials.

    I am somewhat mystified at the old pictures of twenty and thirty-somthings that were competitive running field trials in the sixties and seventies, it must have been a very different game back then.

    John

  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hunt'EmUp View Post
    So what did we start doing? We started assigning different shifts for training days and tests, a morning setup shift and a afternoon cleanup shift. You'd be surprised how happy, non-bitter willing to help out newbies, you can keep those 5-10 people, when there's a second shift (2-3 people) who shows up mid-day Sun, after a long weekend of testing to clean-up and tell the morning shift (6-7 people) to LEAVE everything's taken care of
    I agree. I can't help but wonder if it wouldn't be a better idea to ask for folks to volunteer in shifts (AM, PM, 1st day, 2nd day, setup, teardown, etc.).

    I think more folks would help, if asked...especially if you aren't asking them to commit to the entire weekend.

    Club training days. Have a few of these every once in a while, and be flexible enough so that new folks can run something that is appropriate for their dog. Let em know that they aren't an inconvenience (may require splitting the training group up in to two groups).
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  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Robinson View Post
    I am somewhat mystified at the old pictures of twenty and thirty-somthings that were competitive running field trials in the sixties and seventies, it must have been a very different game back then. John
    There were a few of us . The thing I see is the absence of grounds to put a stake the size of those today. & the grounds to practice those tests. When I started Richard Wolters was some malcontent that showed at the Montana State trial in Butte panning FT's. Today those same HT people are competing for less grounds with the folks that run FT's, so we're trying to do more with less & that don't work. & those same grounds have become a bunch of 20 acre plots. MT had no pro's - how many headquarter there during at the least part of the year?

    Also in those days there were a lot more folks supporting the trials who were not competitors, you rarely see those people today .
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  10. #40
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    I can tell you from a guy that runs a large construction company, Flea Mkt, redi-mix concrete company, and a car auction on Monday nights and has two small kids son 3 and daughter 6 Ft's are tough! My daughter is ranked 3 in the mini-hunter division with her Pony and she rides against mostly 10-14 yr old girls (don't have a clue why she would be competitive) and this daddy don't miss many horse shows! I'm going to be stepping away from Ft's except maybe 4-6 trials a year if that. I'm not going to miss my kids growing up. There will be time for Ft's after they leave home and grow up. Having a young family and finding time to train let alone run trials is tough but I have been able to this point to sqeeze it all in but that is coming to a end. I will support my club thru out but my family is going to be my first priority and that is the reason I see it so difficult for young people to be involved in Ft's. I may go to my second Ht next year and just see what they are all about and let the kids run the dogs and see if they want to get involved.
    Chad
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