"You can't eat a pig whole, but you can eat a whole pig." - Joe S.
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I have been a member of 3 clubs almost 20 years now. The questions and comments in this thread haven't changed from 20 years ago. At the end of the day people do what they want to do. At the same time people have to find value in the club. That is unique to each person. From a pure training perspective, club days don't offer me much. I can use my grounds to put better tests together and run a string of dogs in half the time and get more out of it. However for me I stay and participate in clubs because I love dogs and I love helping people with their dogs. One club I'm in is a pure upland hunting dog club with both flushing and pointing dogs. Nothing they do is remotely close to HT/FT work. Yet I go every month I can because I enjoy helping people with gundog basics. They key to success is finding ways for people to have fun and find value. Not an easy task for any club
There needs to be conscious attempts to bring minorities into this sport. Like it or not, US demographics are changing.
There needs to be focused recruitment of non-bird hunters into this sport too.
HR Surrey's Space Dog Nala
The best long range duck load is a well trained retriever - Nash Buckingham
Phil makes a good point. The trends of today with young people are not geared towards outdoor sports, especially a unique sport like ours. If we keep going like this the future of our sport is FT/HT for XBOX
We started to talk about this topic while out training this morning. This is my opinion and without condeming anyone which would be easy to do these are my comments.
One concern discussed was the ability to help the newcomer if there was an issue with his/her dog when he came out for the club fun day.
If the issue was not taken care of because of time or whatever the newcomer left feeling as if they had not accomplished much. Maybe they thought their dog was not any good or maybe they felt no better than when they started that morning. To them, they learned nothing. I have experienced those feelings!
True or not newcomers expectations may not be what clubs are expecting of them.
Maybe if one person were designated at the fun match, helped correct the problem (by simplifying or?) and told them one thing to work on, maybe it could be better experience for them. They could leave taking ownership or leave feeling better about the experience.
I vividly can remember back seven or 8 years ago how difficult, it was to fit in.
I believe the statement one fellow made you have to have a good dog. Might even be a good black dog!
So often, people show up, totally uninformed, think their dog is going out there to do what all those other dogs are doing. They do not realize the work involved.
I know I did not know what was expected! I can tell you owning HR Blackie I sometimes wonder why I am still marching along. We went down the wrong garden path repeatedly. It was costly both money wise, on the dog and myself. It was also bad for the dog.
I can also tell you I have seen much that did not impress me. I have had many comments made to me that were enough to put you off. I am persistence, do love my dogs and the sport and here I am.
Then you get somebody who does want to help but really with too much information overloading you. When you go home, you are thinking what was that he said.
As a newcomer, you have to be prepared to sift through what info you have received.
Move on each time with the information even if it is baby steps but be persistent.
Get your questions answered-if you do not; keep asking.
Do not be afraid to make a mistake that is how you learn. Take constructive criticism!
You have to be prepared to work long hours, poor weather and help wherever you can.
Work with your dog because it takes many hours; maybe a couple dogs for you to be comfortable with the process, terminology and actual running of your dog.
Best experience was this summer training those days with Al Arthur. Just sat and watched all day. Asked questions, assisted and ran my dog- so valuable. Gained understanding that I might not have gotten otherwise. Got opportunities that might not have come along. I recommend to newcomers to go for the day training with an experienced pro or person. Watch and learn!
You have to be persistent!
Those DVDs out now are a great help to explain but there is nothing like doing!! And that is if you really want to. Your attitude is number one and that is with anything in life.
HRCH Scaupgetters Tarnation QAA
HR Blackie 2 CGN, WCI
"Donít cry because itís over. Smile because it happened."
I have sat here and read this whole thread and I have a couple of comments.
As a younger member of our club, I'm 40, I don't see the older members as wanting to hold onto the power. But rather they know if they don't do the job no one else will. I joined OVRC 4 years ago. Became a board member 3 years ago. And became the president for the last 2 years. Most of the older (experienced) members have offered their advice anytime I ask. But very rarely do they tell me what to do. I may get told that "we've tried it in the past, but go ahead" when I have a new idea. Either way I have always felt welcomed.
In regards to attracting new members. Our club has done special training days at a local hunt club where we did not run our dogs. We advertised it. We had many hunters show up with dogs that couldn't find a food dish let alone a bird. We broke down into groups to work with them on an individual level. And at the end of the day we ended up with 3 new members all of which who are still ACTIVE members of the club. Another guy joined an HRC club and is a very active member there. It took a day out of our clubs training, but we did it to better the club, better our sport and hopefully better the dogs. We also went to a waterfowl show this past summer. 5 new members--- wll they stay? I don't know but I know 2 of them are looking like good members so far.
Keeping new members. One of the biggest complaints from members hear is that they get nothing out of a training day. You show up get to run maybe 2 set ups and spend the whole day there doing it. Where if I was by myself I could go out run 4 setups and be home by noon. And my dogs would get more out of it. I personally go to training days for the atmosphere so my dogs think they are at a test and I like to run last. Clubs need to keep new members entertained and help them out. If you don't why should they be there. Hire workers fr the training day. We charge $3 per club dog at a training day to help defray costs. NO non club dogs (client dogs) at our training days. Have lunch- bring a grill make it a fun training day. Does OVRC do this everytime-- NO but we are trying new things.
Hunt Tests: Last year I believe we did one of the best things we could do for members at our HT. Hired ALL workers for out in the field. Club mebers still do the marshalling, gunning of fliers and equipment stuff, but the people in the field are not members. They are paid. This has helped tremendiously with atitudes at the tests. If you can afford it- do it.
In regards to age: I am 40 with a wife and 3 children- 15,13, and 9. I have 2 jobs, coach baseball in the spring, I've chaired 3 of the last 4 HT and as I said I am the president of our club (for this year anyway). Time for me is at a premimum. I love his sport I love waching dogs do their thing and I love seeing when all of your hard work pays off and the light bulb comes on and the dog understands. That is why I do it. That is why I am an active part of the club. Its not about me, its about the sport and the dogs. As for my family and involvement. Ty my 9 yr old ran his first HT this past June (see below). Abby, 15 is getting her own dog to train in Febuary. My wife took Rose and made her into a couch dog. Jessie, 13 is my bird girl and OB trainer.
Ty Rose Water.jpgTy and Rose-1st.jpgTy0033.jpg
Oakwood's Dora Duky Desire MH- (Dora) 3/3/03- 3/16/11
Desire's Midnight Rose SH- (Rose) 1/29/08
Desire's Big Launch MH (Rocket) 9/29/09
Desire's Pine Ridge Lonesome Gus MH (Gus) 9/29/09
Desire's Littlest Hellian JH (Izzie)
One point that I find Newbs getting hung up on or resistant too is being advised to follow a dedicated retriever training program. It seems some feel their $30 membership fee includes the training of their dog. This isn't the case of course and why pro's are in business. The Retriever Club can however aid in making connections with folks who can assist you in learning the mechanics of running a dog and the training process. I was very fortunate when I started, I had a good dog and folks close by willing to help me learn for the cost of a few nights per week throwing birds.
The time commitment is tremendous if you want to train a competitive dog, and I see the most commitment from those with competitive spirits and those who just love doing activities with their dogs. Retriever Fever seems to be one of things you are all in or not. I did some agility with my dogs but it didn't hook me like HT's and Trials.
Again on the education theme, seminars; handling, judging, e-collar conditioning, etc. These are a draw and encourage retention. Who steps up to Chair these events? Probably one of the 10%'s who already has a full plate.
Mentoring: I'm one of those sappy folks who believes in paying it forward and giving back. The most frustrating thing I've encountered in mentoring is folks who don't do their homework. If you can't or won't, that's what Pro's are for.
First time working an EVENT: Being understaffed at a HT or FT seems to be the norm, unfortunately for the Newbie, they don't know that, and whom ever is in charge of the workforce needs to convey that to the individual, as well as praising and thanking the heck to them. I wish all Clubs had the ability to rotate and spell the workforce, unfortunately it's not the norm and it's a blessing when someone in the gallery steps up to help.
Promoting via Social Media: Three years ago BCRC went almost an entire year with no Web Master to manage the site. I stepped up to at least do a Facebook page. The venue has worked well and makes us easy to find and refer folks to. It's easy to say, "do a search on Facebook for Black Creek Retriever Club". Facebook has been great for hosting our Club event pictures, training articles, meetings etc. As well as providing a direct link to our website with contact information.
What do Folks Want?: I believe that is a valid question for a Membership application. As is, How may we help you succeed? And, How will you Help US succeed in our Mission statement? Accepting a $25-35 membership fee helps pay the bills for sure, but who can you rely on for those one or two AKC events per year?
We really are a small community in the grand scheme of life, and if we desire to maintain support groups for our addiction, we will find a way. The flip side of that is if we don't and Retriever Clubs die, that opens the door to privatization.
Cindy Von Sutphen
Dai Suki Desu MH
Reed Lanes Ladies Love a Rockstar CGC
LPK's If I Can Call You Betty (da behbeh gurl)
Reading most responses, I note that we all know what the problems are, but seem to lack the ability to deal with them.
Most new people to our sport can only train their dogs on weekends or in the evenings. Most of our experienced Field trial folks are retired. They train during the day and hit the trial circuit for most of the summer. We, as a commumity, must perhaps make some adjustments in our training schedules, to accomodate the new people in our sport. This just might Help!!
Throughout North America, the people who work extremely hard at their local trials, are not always the Field Trial Keeners. They dedicate their time and their energy to Marshall, to Judge, to Cook and to make their trial a success and to support our great sport. Yet I have witnessed, on many occasions, where the Field trial elite, criticize the tests, the judgment of their dogs and the amateur like way a trial was run. This shamefull attitude does nothing to enhance our sport, it only serves to dishearten those who are being criticized and to turn them off of a sport they thought was understanding, thoughful and yes, FUN.
We should all take a long look in the mirror and recount the number of times we have done these very things. We say we do them for the betterment of the sport, when, in fact, we do them for our own desire to be smarter and more WISE than the other guy.
I have witnessed on many occasions the experienced trialer talking to the newer folks. Most of the time the conversations are providing helpfull advise and council, but all to often the conversations relate to picking at another another Field trialer or a Judge or a Test. This must really appeal to the new person in the sport, who is looking for, not only help, but comaraderie and a family of like enthusiasts. I myself have fallen victim to my own pettiness and I will make an effort to STOP IT.
Imagine the 1st time you had gone golfing and the mentors and wise ones you were golfing with, ridiculed your BEST EFFORTS. You would really want to get right back to it!! NOT LIKELY
Attitude is key. It can be positve or negative. It is really up to you. Now take that hard look in the mirror!!!!!!!
"Remember, it's about the Dog and the Dog work, it's not about you"
Another observation for consideration. Those who originally started the clubs, nurtured it and brought in and helped novices train their dogs are all of a sudden 'old fogies', don't know anything and are dragging their feet into what the newbies think is the only way to go. They have changed the original concept of the club and push out the charter members. Very soon those who love and work the sport give up and let the newbies have it and down goes the club. Guess who gets the blame. Not the only reason for the decline but sure is a good one to think about. I know, I am one of those old fogies and tired of fighting a losing cause. (I'm outnumbered)
A true friend is someone who reaches for your hand and touches your heart.
My Dad said to me ."Son, a man just needs three things to be happy....A good dog, a good gun and a good wife.....Thank God I have all three
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