Tuesday, January 29, 2013

LCDA's History Part 1

Low Country Dog Agility Club was founded on February 10th, 1993. The Charter members were Bill Farmer, Mary Evans, Kathy Cole, Margie Connell, Cynthia and Hugh King, Phyllis Maclendon, and Doug and Judy Trumbel.

In the beginning, we were very much an obedience club that had agility as part of its name. As Mary Evans recalls “I showed in obedience, and conformation, and then one day a friend said something about us getting together to talk about a new up and coming dog sport, called agility. I asked what is that. They knew about as much about agility as I did, but said it was kind of like horses jumping hurdles. I said sounds like fun, so off I go to our first meeting. There were about 6 of us.  That is when the fun began. We would meet at someone’s home about once a month to talk about agility, and forming our club, and we decided on the name Low Country Dog Agility Club.”

As Mary recalls, I (Wanda) sometimes talk to people about how poor we were. We were so poor that we would have to bring our own drink to the meetings. Of course we had no equipment, knew nothing about building it, but found some information on the USDAA web site.  Equipment in those days was rustic. Over time, the equipment got better as more building plans became available. All of the equipment was homemade. There was no place to buy equipment, other than tunnels. Some of the equipment was so heavy you had to be young and stupid to move it around.

The club’s first major purchase was an open trailer that we covered with a blue tarp. It was stored in overflow parking at Palmetto Island County Park. Before we acquired the trailer, everyone that wanted to play agility would show up and bring their homemade toys and we would set them up together in an open field at the park. That was the beginning of a very close relationship that was formed with Palmetto Island County Park.  The below picture shows a typical setup. In the far distance is Mary Evans green pickup truck with our open trailer attached.


Remember that we wanted to be an agility club and we needed money. So, we turned to what we knew and we taught obedience classes to fund our agility habit. That story will be told another day. You would think with all of those obedience people, that our dogs would have had recalls. Well, we use to chase them through the woods at Palmetto Islands. We needed a fence. With the money that we made, we talked the park manager at Palmetto Islands County Park into letting us pay for a chain length fence. The fence measured about 30 X 120 and it was located at the end of the overflow parking lot.

We paid for the fence and some of our club members built baby equipment to go in the fenced in area. Let me make it very clear…we donated it. We had no rights to it at all. It became the first dog park in the Charleston County Parks system. We lovingly referred to it as the fenced in area. Hugh and Cynthia King were very instrumental in helping the club acquire the fencing and the equipment. When we had classes at the park, you had to stay in the fenced in area until your dog would not run away. It was a special day when you graduated to being able to train in the open field.

The following is Courtney Holscher’s recollection of training in the fenced in area. “Our class met on Saturday mornings and there were only four dogs total in the class; two poodles, a really overweight mixed breed dog, and Sandy. Elaine Magliacane was the instructor. Training methods were much different then as we didn’t have access to adjustable equipment, and the goal was just to get the dog to go over the equipment. We didn’t have targets (I don’t remember ever hearing about any type of contact training until at least a year later with Bud Houston) or any way to train weaves other than luring around straight poles. All of the equipment we used was in the dog park area of Palmetto Island County Park and was permanently set up. Being in a public park, we were not allowed to prevent people using the dog park from coming in while we were having class. So it occasionally happened that we had dog park dogs running all around while we were trying to have class."

The below photos show a very young Courtney Holscher training Sandy on leash in the fenced in area.

Several people have been very instrumental in the development of LCDA into the club that it is today. It was about 1998 that Elaine Magliacane moved to Charleston. Elaine was from Atlanta and had been very active in an agility club in that area. She had put agility titles on a dog. She also had competed in a variety of dog sports. We thought she hung the moon. Elaine is quite a character. She is a little gruff on the outside but has a heart of gold. She and her future husband Ron would drive up on Saturday morning in their pickup truck which would be filled with her own personal agility equipment. At that time, we were not allowed to use the club equipment that was stored on the open trailer for class. She taught 3 levels of agility on Saturday morning with her own equipment. She would sit in a beach chair with a diet coke and a cigarette and tell everyone what to do. If she got up out of that chair, either you or your dog was in trouble. Serving as our club's training director; Elaine set a path for us to develop an agility training program. It was Elaine that pushed for us to use club equipment to train on. She also campaigned for the club to spend the money to have a seminar. Elaine helped us to organize our early agility trials. She told us what to do and we did it. She was a computer programmer by day and she developed our club's first website. That is why we are proud to have Elaine Magliacane as a lifetime member.  Below is a picture of Elaine.

From 1996-2000 our club had a group of people join that would shape its future. Wanda Usher, Mike Adams, Bob and Mickey Lanier, Caroline Hunt, Karen Denton and Elaine Hawes all joined the club over those four years. All of these people have had a profound impact on our club.

In 1997 we became affiliated with USDAA and part of our affiliation required us to put on an agility match which would qualify us to host an agility trial. To keep our affiliation, we had to have two days of trials per year. It was about that time that Wanda Usher joined the club. She remembers attending a meeting and everyone was all in a tizzy about putting on this trial. The club President, Cynthia King, approached Wanda about being the trial Chair. Wanda did not know a thing about a trial, she had never attended one, and she had only taken obedience classes. Cynthia told her that it was mostly paperwork, so Wanda agreed, but with the stipulation that she could put together her own trial committee and things would not be planned in the general meeting. During this time, Wanda would call USDAA and they would tell her what to do, but she would not understand. So she would immediately call Elaine Magliacane and ask her what they were talking about. Somehow we muddled through.  
Caroline Hunt was one of our first trial secretaries. There was no computer program and everything was hand written. 

We managed to put on a trial with equipment borrowed from club members. Mary Evans owned a teeter and an A Frame and everyone else brought their jumps etc. We had a club member’s husband make us the most beautiful dog walk we had ever seen. It was common in those days for the judges to inspect the equipment prior to the trial and write up the club for any equipment that did not meet the specifications. Our equipment people were known to have to take equipment home on Saturday night and make modifications so that it could be used on Sunday. The attached picture shows a group of us at one of our early trials. We use to wear orange vests so we could look real official. Wanda and Caroline are wearing the orange vests in the picture.

To be continued...

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