When I first got involved with NADOI, it was already formed but very loosely and with few members. Most members were from the East Coast of the US – Fla., W.Va., MD., NY., etc. They were known to each other via friends, relatives, dog showing, training, etc. There were small mentions of the group in a few publications – there weren’t many of them in those early days, either.
I saw in some publication – don’t remember which one – a tiny article about a man named Milo Pearsall and giving his address. I wrote Mr. Pearsall and he responded with a little booklet about puppy training and a letter in which he invited me to come to one of their meetings which was to be held in the NE. He also sent me a questionnaire and asked me to fill it out.
I did return the completed questionnaire and subsequently went to their meeting. Don’t recall where at this point. I then met a handful of men who urged me to apply for membership.
Eventually I was directed to travel to Maryland from my home in New Jersey to be examined by Merrill Cohen. (I recognized his name as a judge and exhibitor in obedience trials.) At the time I was apprenticing under a man named Larry Freas who had just become a member. Larry was a former Army K-9 officer and he was tutoring me in handling aggressive dogs. (That’s just about all we had as students in those early days – dogs that were standing in the doorway of euthanasia because they were behavior problems. People with nice dogs just didn’t take them to obedience classes then.)
Larry went with me to Maryland and I taught a class in the basement of a church as Merrill Cohen and several others watched my teaching techniques and methods. I don’t have to tell you that I was VERY nervous knowing that I was under the gun of knowledgeable men who probably didn’t want females in the group in the first place!
To make a long story short, I completed my test, taught the class, caught a man with a big GSD using a spike collar on a dog that didn’t need it, and answered a million questions from Merrill and his associates. I left that night thinking that I’d probably failed.
Much to my delight, I passed and was notified that I was now NADOI member #119! That’s when I began going to meetings as often as possible. Of course I couldn’t travel to far away places such as Florida, but I did go to New England many times as well as other NE towns.
Our newsletter in those days was called HAPPY HEELING and the old records show me as an applicant for membership in July, 969. (I can’t believe that’s almost 30 years ago!!!)
During those early days, I got to know Elenora Tinetti, Phil Euler, the Sauciers, the Pearsalls, Earl Traxler, Blanche Carlquist, Arnold Korn, Olive Point, Margaret Meminger, Stan Vaughn, Roger Gallant, Ray Peat, Charlie Gervasini, John Grieve (I recall when he died), Tom Knott and George Bruno, the Monaghans and Barbara Dille. We went to places like upstate NY and Connecticut to meet.
We met in restaurants for a meal and then conducted our meeting following the meal. We didn’t have big meeting rooms or lecture halls in those days. We just sat at the table and talked after we finished eating. I do recall one meeting where the restaurant gave us a small meeting room after we completed our luncheon. That was class!!! I also recall that we went to John Grieve’s home in Conn. for one particular meeting. He fed us all and that was nice.
Training in those days was much more physical and none of us had the behavioral knowledge that we have today. You must remember that much of the information we have today was learned and shared with us long after NADOI began. There were a lot of good teachers like Larry Freas who had learned dog behavior by simply working with a vast variety of dogs, both with and without problems, etc. Handling was strong on our list of must learns – “a good instructor will only be bitten when he makes a handling mistake!”
Teaching skills were just not discussed much. That’s why I took so many courses in lecturing, psychology (human), and communication. I was trying to take various parts of a puzzle and put them all together to come up with a whole dog obedience instructor package. I was young – just 40 yrs old – and eager to learn and succeed in my work with my clients.
In NJ, I not only worked with clients’ dogs, I trained my own and when people would see them behaving and performing their lessons, they would approach me and ask me to train their dogs, too. I did train a lot of dogs for people in those early days. However, I found that, when I’d completed the training, the dogs all wanted to be with me, not their owners. That’s when I realized that the dog in training is bonding with the trainer and I wanted the dogs to bond with their owners. Classes were the obvious solution.
About this same time, Larry was forming a few small classes and invited me to assist him and his wife. I did and learned a lot from that experience. One day Larry’s wife had a class on a weekday morning while Larry was at work. His wife got sick and she asked me to teach her class. I did teach the class until they completed the course four weeks later. By then, I realized that classes were exactly what I’d been looking for.
Following that experience, I taught many classes for Larry. However, I moved to another town and when I did, I began classes of my own. At first they were small, but word-of-mouth soon brought me many students who were happy with the results.
Top handlers in those days were people like Charlie Gervasini and Merrill Cohen and Tom Knott. These men represented a large cross-section of breeds, too. Wire-haired terriers, Yorkies, German Shepherds and Dobes. The range went from ridiculous to sublime!
Matches and trials were a lot of fun in those early days. Everyone was rooting for everyone else. There wasn’t an over-emphasis on trophies and scores. If a person and his dog got in the ring and qualified, you were cheered by all. I recall trialing with an Airedale and most folks, including the judges, didn’t think I’d get her to qualify. Well, she did and she subsequently earned a C.D. Many judges told me during that experience that it was nice to see an Airedale in an obedience ring – a rarity, for sure
Thru the years there have been many changes in rules, some good, some not too good. However, each change was made because the folks at AKC thought it would help the sport of obedience. Most people wanted to teach their dogs good manners and to be obedient – they cared little about straight sits but concentrated on coming when called, staying, heeling, etc. In other words, people wanted their dogs to be controllable, not perfect.
A six-foot lead, usually leather, and a chain training collar were standard equipment. Once Larry and I used two cement blocks tied to the end of a long line to teach a German Shorthaired Pointer not to run away. That dog did try to run and dragged the cement blocks for two blocks before we caught up with him! However, a few times of that and the dog quit trying to run away. He must have figured the blocks were just too heavy to drag, so he gave up and stayed with his owner! Other than that, we had no fancy equipment – our brains and handling ability was what we counted on. (That’s why Larry’s lessons were so important to me.)
Large working breeds were popular, terriers were not, small poodles always seemed to do well, and many people had mixed breeds, too, just as they do today. There were a lot more collies and shelties then, no Aussies and Borders.
I earned obedience titles on such breeds as Airedales, Min. Schnauzers, Standard Schnauzers, Poodles (Standard) and an Ibizan Hound and German Shepherds. Siberian Huskies were usually tough to train as were the terriers. Some of the giant breeds – Danes, Newfies, Mastiffs – required a lot of patience due to their size and slowness in response. But then, that remains so today, doesn’t it?
I exhibited from Conn. to Maryland and traveled by car. I never went West except to lots of shows in Penn. and never out of the US.
NADOI has grown not only in membership, but in scope and we offer so much more today than we ever did before. If I had had today’s NADOI back in those days, I wouldn’t have had to learn so much by trial and error. But then, maybe that’s what made me into the person I am today. Having tough trainers guiding me and tough dogs to work with taught me to look into the mind of the dog and think about his perspective before I approached the training process. Having owners who knew so little about dogs, even their own!, taught me how important it is to educate my human students before I can expect them to educate their dogs.
Experience and age have mellowed me, and I don’t think it’s hurt a bit. I’ve become more patient, more tolerant, more understanding, even more caring. Then later on when I was running classes on my own, Police K-9 Corps officers with whom worked taught me a great deal about dog aggression as well. All these experiences plus more molded me. Take Glen Johnson, for example. He showed me the way to operant conditioning and motivational training methods at St. Clair College in Ontario, Canada back in 1976. (But then, that’s another whole story!)
Needless to say, this discourse has gone on long enough. I just wish I had another life to live armed with what I know now. As you can see, NADOI and all the related experiences I’ve enjoyed have given my life meaning. And when I see one dog and one owner walk out of a class exhibiting the bond they feel toward each other, that’s my reward.
In the years to come, I’m certain that NADOI will continue to favorably influence owners and instructors alike.
Thanks for listening ,
Charlotte Schwartz #119
Note: this was written June 20, 1996, in response to a request from the NADOI Historian for information about the early days of NADOI. Charlotte was a LIFE member of NADOI and served the organization in many capacities.