Sunday, February 10, 2013

LCDA's History Part 3

LCDA Ribbons

Elaine Hawes is responsible for creating our beautiful ribbons. For those of you that are lucky enough to have a set of them, perhaps you have noticed the rainbow characteristic. The prominent color in each ribbon stands for a titling class. The rainbow ribbons frame the center titling color ribbon. Light blue is for Snooker. Green is for Jumpers. Dark Blue is for pairs. Hot Pink is for Gamblers. Purple is for Standard. Dark Pink is for tournaments. As you progress up the titling ladder the rosette gets bigger and the streamers get longer. People come from all around trying to finish a title at our show so they can go home with one of our beautiful ribbons. These ribbons have put a smile on the face of many competitors and they are unique to our club. We have Elaine to thank for making our trials special.

There was a lot happening in our club in the late 1990’s. We are starting to look like an agility club. We are hosting competitions and we are getting to see what other competitors look like. It was during this time that Elaine Magliacane pushed for us to have a seminar. There were two events that set the course for our club’s agility training. We had Bud Houston come into town and do an instructor’s seminar. He taught us how to train dogs on equipment and the basics of handling and movement. Bud sees value in all dogs and all handlers and he had his hands full with us. He left us with a notebook full of setups and explanations of how to teach them. The other event that shaped our training program was our club sending Mike Adams to a Clean Run Camp. It was a lot of money for our little club, but it was money well spent. The camp lasted a full week and was held somewhere in the Northeast. Mike came back on fire for agility. He had seen some of the best instructors in the country and he had a notebook full of things to teach us. I can still remember the first class that Mike taught when he returned from camp. He nearly worked us to death. There was no time to talk and socialize. Mike was all business.

Below is a picture of Karen Denton’s Blaze in a set of weave poles with a spring base. They were state of the art at the time and 18 inches apart. They would literally spring back and forth and beat the poor dogs to death as they went through them.

We seem to be spending money like we had some. We were financing this agility habit by teaching obedience and puppy classes. We were teaching 32 weeks of the year, two to three nights a week. Each night generally had two classes. Y’all can do the math. We were the place, East of the Cooper, to teach your dog some manners. Most of our club members that have been members longerthan 10 years came to the club via an obedience class.

LCDA Classes – The Early Days by Carolina Hunt

If you found yourself time-warped back to observe LCDA’s classes 15 to 20 years ago, you wouldn’t believe it was the same organization.  Classes took place in the National Guard Armory in Mount Pleasant. Though indoors and easy to find the venue was dark, echoing, and given to various uncertainties (such as occasionally being locked out or superseded by another event). Concrete floors were a challenge. I had to write to AKC about a Whippet that wouldn’t down on them; the CGC department authorized an alternate substrate (their word), the owner brought a bathmat, and the dog passed. Sometimes we’d find a tank or mysterious packing crates in the middle of the floor and worked around them. After 9/11, the Armory understandably wasn’t available for several months, and we were fortunate enough to be taken in by Trident Academy. 

The visitor from 2013 wouldn’t recognize the dogs, either. With the notable exception of Karen Denton’s Bandit, Border Collies were not much represented among LCDA students of the mid-1990s. One early training director, Elaine Magliacane, did have a BC, Crispin, who had retired after a stellar career in competitive obedience. The largest contingents seemed to consist of Standard Poodles and Weimaraners, followed by mixed breeds and then perhaps Aussies. Often we would have a series of Labs or Goldens whose owners had not grasped quite how boisterous these breeds could be.
Most of the classes were obedience classes. We had three sections(!) of the basic CGC class, then usually Beyond Basic and sometimes instruction at the Open obedience level, or special ad hoc classes. The basic CGC class incorporated what we would now call obstacle familiarization, partly on the theory that it would make the dogs more confident and hence both more trainable and better canine citizens. Equipment lived in a shed outside the Armory and had to be toted in each evening. Clearly, agility for its own sake had not yet arrived.

CGC participants received a snap-choke collar, a short lead, and a six-foot lead (which they did not use until several weeks into the course). Each instructor had at least one assistant, often two. After assisting, one often became a lead instructor – helped, in the case of the inexperienced, by veteran assistants. One of my first assistants was the incomparable Mary Evans, who knew more about teaching dog owners than I could ever learn. (Other memorable early assistants were Sis Nunnally, Pat and Don Frey, and, for several years, Mike Adams.) Once, as Mary demonstrated a CGC auditory distraction, my 90-pound German Shepherd misinterpreted her falling clipboard in typical GSD fashion. Launching through the air, he snatched the clipboard before it hit the ground and delivered it to me. Mary went right on explaining the CGC auditory distraction as if Kohl had been part of the act.

LCDA pioneered in the use of food treats for training, guided by our longtime early training director Cynthia King. Incredibly, many students had to be cajoled or bullied into using food. We did a lot of mental exercises, partly to overcome the rather physical approach of dog owners of the time. For instance, I used to make classes walk the length of the Armory with leashes made of sewing thread. This was a great incentive to practice loose leash walking at home! We also pioneered in encouraging, helping to train, and helping to place therapy dog teams. Our impressive number of therapy visit hours was one of the factors that helped us gain our 501(c)3 status later.  Useful to the community? You bet. Fun? Ditto. Some things don’t change.

The photo below shows Courtney and Sandy, Deb Bennett and Lily, Wanda and Surfer, and Pat Frey and Sam(?)

Classes by Courtney Holscher

Classes and class locations have changed many times over LCDA’s history. When I first started taking classes with LCDA in Fall 2002, Basic Obedience and Puppy Kindergarten classes were taught at the Mount Pleasant Armory on Mathis Ferry Rd. Wanda Usher and Bob Lanier taught Sandy’s puppy kindergarten class and at the end of each class the puppies got to try some baby agility equipment (this is what initially got us interested in agility). 

Because of what was going on in the country post 9-11, LCDA was not allowed to used the armory for the following winter session. Basic Obedience CGC and Puppy classes were moved to the cafeteria of Trident Academy in Mount Pleasant. Caroline Hunt and Mike Adams were teaching the obedience classes at this time. The room was so small that when we took the CGC test we had to wait outside because we couldn’t all fit with the stations set up. 

Introduction to Agility classes were moved to Palmetto Island County Park at the same time. Because Sandy was older when we started training, we took the CGC and Intro to Agility class simultaneously. 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 following session in the spring was moved back to the armory. Lights and a fence had been put up in the back grassy area of the armory so we were able to have agility classes there in the evenings. The equipment was kept in a closet inside the armory (later moved to a shed outside) and everything but the jumps was much smaller than competition size. We had to bring everything outside and set it up every time we had class. If it rained, we rolled out thin rubber mats onto the concrete floors and hallways inside the armory and set the equipment on top of that. Both intro and higher level handling classes were taught at the armory, along with the indoor obedience classes. Classes continued to be held at the armory until we acquired the field and even then obedience and intro classes were still held there until we got lights at the field. 

The final place we had classes pre-LCDA West was the open field next to the fenced in dog park at Palmetto Island County Park. This is where our tradition of Saturday morning classes began, as we couldn’t have our major classes in the evenings because the park wasn’t open. Every Saturday Mike had to pull the trailer from where it was parked on the other side of the park to where we held class. The next thirty minutes were then spent setting up the equipment, followed by an Advanced and then Novice class. This was the only time that our dogs were able to practice on competition size equipment. The Advanced Beginners class(basically what our Obstacle Skills 2 class is now) was taught simultaneously inside the dog park fence using the baby equipment. Various people instructed and a significant portion of our lessons came from Bud Houston.

The pictures below are of some of the puppies celebrating their graduation.

To be continued...

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