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Thread: The future of retriever clubs

  1. #51
    Senior Member Losthwy's Avatar
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    May 2004
    Green Mountain, Co


    I don't believe anything can be done to save Field Trials as we know them today. It's fast becoming a game of pay to play, single owners with large numbers of dogs trained by professionals, trials run mostly on professional's properties. Judging will go from bad to worse. In the not too distance future even the live gunners will have to be hired. For the few who remain and can afford it there will be fewer clubs and events to run. Not my idea of fun.
    What its prominence suggest, and what all science confirms is that the dog is a creature of the nose- A. Horowitz.

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  3. #52
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Victoria, British Coliumbia


    Quote Originally Posted by Losthwy View Post
    I don't believe anything can be done to save Field Trials as we know them today. It's fast becoming a game of pay to play, single owners with large numbers of dogs trained by professionals, trials run mostly on professional's properties. Judging will go from bad to worse. In the not too distance future even the live gunners will have to be hired. For the few who remain and can afford it there will be fewer clubs and events to run. Not my idea of fun.
    For myself I am an optimist
    it does not seem to be much use being anything else.
    -Winston Churchill

    Make thngs happen. In the face of challenges, overcome them and succeed.

    Things a club can do.

    1. Advertise your club. Think of all the registered Labradors in North America. Get a conversation going with a person looking to buy a dog. Place the ad for the club in the pet section of the news paper. It might read. "Are you looking for a working dog? Before you buy call our club repesentative."

    2. If you are a Field Trialer or Hunt Test person bring the perspective buyer up to speed on what the these trained dogs can do. Demonstrate your dog with some drills.

    3. Look for opportunities to demonstrate at fairs or sportman shows what talent and skill the dogs possess.

    4. Call the new members out to the one on one or small sessions and work on keeping it simple.

    5. Demographics and the growing number of baby boomers with time on their hands presents an opportunity trial and hunt test clubs to tap into. The added bonus is the baby boomers are mature and patient with a good chance the last of their adult children will have likely left the house. After all the youngest is by now age 32.

    6. The older demographic have resources and time. What they lack in energy and speed they more than make up for with good judgement and a steady hand.

    7. In many newspapers there is a lifestyle sectionthis goes for radio and television. There is an opportunity for the professional writer to publish articles about the great recreational activity of field sport competition dogs. It may be incumbent upon the publishers of Retriever News and/or Retriver Journal to submit an article or make available a guest to talk about our sport.

    8. Lastly regarding what to do and this will be hard for the hunter/trialer with an accomplished dog to act on is, take an aquaintance out to a trial or a hunt test even to the duck blind or on an upland hunt. You just may spark an interest that grows to a passion. At the least you will have one other person who could potentionally refer a person who would be mad keen to work with dogs.

    9. Focus and enjoy working with your dogs. The real reward is advancing/progressing your dog. The ribbons will come if you do the work. One pro on the west coast shared a thought with me that the certifcate paper from the AKC stating the dog he trained had become a Field Champion seemed so in-consequential to all the training and trials he had done with the dog.
    Last edited by Ironwood; 11-01-2012 at 01:44 AM.

  4. #53


    Well said Ironwood! Those are all great ideas.

    One of our clubs does several demos thru the year and personally we have worked with VT Fish & Wildlife to do demos at conservation camps for years. We also include a retriever demo in the hunter's safety classes we teach.

    For the last puppy I registered the AKC sent a letter outlining local dog clubs that do breed, obedience, agility etc. Our AKC member retriever club was not on the list. Hmmm...

    I think outreach in any form is important to promote our sport.
    Terry Johansson
    Just in Case Retrievers

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  6. #54
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2008


    Quote Originally Posted by bjoiner View Post
    The one thing you can do to build members and get them involved is to call newer members individually and ask them to train. Just hosting training days once a month, etc. ain't going to do it. It takes making someone feel wanted and welcome for most people to become involved. A lot of times newer people feel like they are an inconvenience to training groups because their dogs aren't to the same level. Have them run your dogs and help out developing theirs. Take a personal interest in the new ones that show some interest and get them hooked.
    I agree.

    Our club requires an existing member to sponsor new members when they join. I can't help but wonder if it would make sense for the existing member to assume that responsibility? I suspect a number of them already do that, but it'd be interesting if the process was a bit more formalized (i.e. "we haven't seen Joe and his pup in a few months...anybody heard from him?").
    Stray labs make great pets.
    Proud member of the FF society.

  7. #55
    Senior Member Jeffrey Towler's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Perry MI


    "It also is hard for newcomers as the old timers do not always want to give up the power, or even be open to mew ideas. I am not sure how many times I have heard tradition as a reason why a suggestion would not work. You hear enough of that and it does not take much to say forget it "

    I agree with you Zman1001

  8. #56
    Senior Member DarrinGreene's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Souf Joisy


    Before I say ANYTHING I want to thank all the great people in the local area here who make NJ, DE, MD the retriever mecca that it really is. I don't know of anywhere else you can run as many events within 3 hours of home as here. This is because of people who are generous with their time, expertise and great grounds. Thank all of you.

    I don't have all the answers to this and maybe I have none but as an old marketing guy whose trained to find and retain new customer, I think each club has to look at the services they offer compared against the needs of the audience(s).

    What I mean there is...

    Look at people who have dogs in your area and do more with them than pet them on the couch.

    Have a look at obedience clubs, agility clubs, waterfowl hunters and so forth. Host a training day and invite members of these other clubs to come out, even if they don't have a retriever. We all have a lot to learn from each other so partnering to an extent with a schutzund, obedience or agility club gives you people interested in competing with dogs that might become interested in what we do. We might have people interested in their venue also, in the dead of winter obedience and agility events PACK a local horse arena nearby me with hundreds of participants.

    This weekend in my area is a great example. There's a HUGE hunting test going on. Fall weather in the 50's. It's going to be a great weekend, but how many of our local obedience, agility and schutzund competitors know it's going on? Very few I'll bet.

    If we would get 2 or 3 people who happen to be in the area to come by and just have a look at what these amazing dogs can do, they may be back.

    Exchanging email lists with those clubs or notifying their leadership for distribution might attract some interested people.

    No one has additional time for this outreach type work, which is understandable given the work the existing board members are already putting in. Maybe the club could use someone whose sole job it is to recruit and retain new members? Someone who has the knowledge to extend the clubs reach into social media and establish some connections to other clubs locally?

    Who knows if it would be worth the effort, but you won't find or retain new members without focusing on the issue and getting the expertise and effort in place to make it happen.
    Last edited by DarrinGreene; 11-01-2012 at 08:45 AM.
    Darrin Greene

  9. #57
    Junior Member sparksaume's Avatar
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    Jan 2011
    Union Grove, AL


    I dont chime in often, but being a newcomer to the sport i figured why not. I bought a pup almost 2 years ago because I wanted a hunting dog. Not just a dog that could pick up a duck, but I wanted the nicest dog at the boat ramp on any given morning. So I looked up reputable breeders, spent time researching dogs, and titles. Because at the time I had no clue what FC/AFC, QAA, or MH meant but I wanted to learn. So I bought the dog and purchased Lardy's training DVDs. After watching the first few sessions I quickly learned that I would need some help along the way, or I was just going to need to give up. So I began looking for like minded people, that had knowledge of the sport and were willing to help me. I trained by myself for over a year before I got into a training club. I started posting on a forum that I was looking for people to train with, I offered to come throw birds or plant blinds for anyone that would respond. Sadly I never got a reply to my first post, So I started another one saying the same thing, hoping that it just got missed by the people that I was trying to reach. Eventually a couple of people read my post and contacted me. Since then I regularly train with one (almost on a daily basis). Another guy contacted me about the NAHRC and mentioned that his club would be hosting a training day (which happened to be less than 5 miles from my house),so I attended my first group training effort with a 13 month old that had been trained entirely by one person, without any bird boys, zinger wingers, bumper boys, or any other training aid. Since that day I have become good friends with several members of the club, and attend regularly the training days hosted by the club. My pup is now 21 months old, just finished running derbies, we never had any success by most of the people on here's measure, but for a first time trainer that started with 1 dvd I feel that I have accomplished something for myself.
    I said all of that to show that it can take some time to track down these club members and clubs. The effort taken to get into one of these training groups can sometimes outweigh the perceived reward. People that are getting into these types of animals should have easy access to clubs for their region, and more so local contacts that they can reach out to. The internet is great but you can’t get the impression you are welcome as easily over the internet as you can if you can hear someone’s voice, so phone numbers should be included for people willing to be contacted by “new comers”. Its hard to say what can keep these people around, since life sometimes gets in the way. And you either get bit by a bug or you don’t.
    Ashland's Chicken Gettin Fox

  10. #58
    Senior Member Ted Shih's Avatar
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    Jan 2003
    Golden, Colorado


    Danny Farmer has a saying: You can't talk someone into Field Trials. And once they get in, you can't talk them out of it.

    It is something you want to do, or don't. Like Steve Shaver wrote, some dogs have that desire, others don't. I am relatively new to the sport, and began in 1999.

    Since then, I have seen lots of people come, wanting to set the world on fire.

    Most of them are gone. Not because anyone stepped on them.

    But, rather because if you want to compete and win, it takes a great dog, time, money, training grounds, and training partners. It is hard. But, those who remain are those who want that challenge and revel in it.
    Competition does not build character - It reveals it.

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  11. #59
    Senior Member FOM's Avatar
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    Jan 2003
    Falcon, CO


    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Shih View Post
    But, those who remain are those who want that challenge and revel in it.
    Or we are just stupid? I've often question my sanity, not only from a practical stand point but from the looming commitments just around the corner (my judging assignments, club FT to put on with no firm grounds lined up and a judge to be replaced, and trying to get in some training time).....there are only so many hours in a given day, only some much energy to expend...our club is shrinking fast and we have tried all sorts of things to get and keep membership up....I swear I have a couple screws loose....I threaten my dogs every day that I'm going to trade them in for goldfish....
    "You can't eat a pig whole, but you can eat a whole pig." - Joe S.

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  12. #60
    Senior Member Rick_C's Avatar
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    Dec 2007
    Ontario, CA


    Quote Originally Posted by Miriam Wade View Post
    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.

    This post absolutely hits the nail on the head, especially in the hunt test game. When I started I'd never heard of hunt tests or field trials. A couple months later I showed up at a hunt test the club I just joined was putting on (without a dog to run) to help. I was walked out to a gun station, shown how to load a winger and when to shoot the popper and given a brief summary of how the test mechanics would work. It was June with temps in the low 90's and I didn't come out of the field until we finished the second series of the Master that evening. Still I showed up the next day to do it all over again. Same with the fall test. It was again quite warm, I again showed up at 7 am and stayed until we were done with the work both days but there was one difference. By then I knew who the club members were and my blood boiled at not even getting a potty break while watching several of them sitting in the gallery chatting and socializing all day while I worked my tail off.

    Thankfully I was too excited about the game and loved watching the dogs work so I wasn't about to quit. I wanted a dog that could do the work I was watching (or at least what I could see of it from my gun station). I'm sure many, if not most, brand new people would have been so put off that they would have been gone, never to return. I think about that now when we have new people and make sure to rotate them out of the field and let them watch dogs from the line while answering any questions they may have throughout the weekend.
    Rick Curtis ~ Currently in Ontario, CA by way of Spokane, WA and Northern CA.

    Little Man Caught It On The River SH ~ "Ace"

    Handlers Handle, Dogs Dog, Judges Judge

    "If you train a young dog for momentum, precision will arrive. If you train for precision, demanding perfection, momentum will depart."
    ~Rex Carr

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