Almost 10 years have passed since I assumed the role of editor of NADOI Notes. During that decade, many things have changed. Obedience magazines, writers, and even ideas and training/instructing techniques have come and gone. Dog breeds have peaked and dived, and more and more competition venues have blossomed. Through the years, NADOI Notes has always strived to bring interesting, informative, and even sometimes entertaining articles to our readers. I am but the most recent in a long line of Notes editors, yet I am confident in stating that all of us understood that our readers are the most important part of this equation. With that in mind, I hope you won’t object if I give you a more personal NADOI Notes this time. I think I have earned the opportunity!
NADOI has also changed through the years. When I was admitted decades ago, many, if not most, of our members came up in AKC obedience clubs or other clubs devoted to the sport of competition obedience. Training and teaching for titles was given a huge amount of importance, because that is what we did. Time marched on, and more and more “pet” people wanted to train their dogs, which of course was a wonderful thing. Most of these dog owners were not interested in titles, but did want a well-behaved dog. Classes grew up all over the country, with educated and responsible owners our goal, as well as trained dogs. Back then, who could have foreseen the expansion of dog activities, from the early days of schutzhund, tracking, and scent hurdle to flyball, agility, earth dog activities, lure coursing, rally, freestyle, hunt tests and weight pulls, and the changes in “formal” obedience. These (and it is an incomplete list of course) have all been for the good of dogs and their owners, with more, no doubt, to come. NADOI has also worked to change with the times, and recognize and endorse those who instruct many different canine pursuits.
Much remains for NADOI, as a professional organization, to do. As with many groups similar to ours, we face challenges our founders could not have planned for. Where NADOI was once the only organization available for dog obedience instructors, competition now exists. Learning used to be at hand only from the friends and clubs you trained with, books and magazines, or seminars and workshops. Now we are almost on information overload, with a plethora of television shows, DVDs, webinars, on-line schools, e-mail lists, blogs, youtube, and naturally the ever-present internet itself as a research tool. Nothing seems to be simple or straightforward anymore, as everyone has his or her favorite training guru or philosophy to follow.
At the same time, people have become busier and busier, with less time to devote to the organizations there to support them. Families, children’s activities, and demands of jobs have forced instructors to prioritize what they can realistically do, and many times it is the organizations we are members of that are slighted. Instructors are entering the profession who have never been a member of an obedience club or titled a dog. Everyone’s goals seem to have shifted, and sometimes it has been hard to keep up and provide what our members want and need.
Despite these obstacles, NADOI will go forward. When a few dedicated instructors gathered in 1965 to form an association devoted to “elevating dog obedience instructing,” they probably could not have imagined these changes, yet the wisdom of their founding principles guides us today. When John Grieve, one of our first presidents, was interviewed for a NADOI Notes article in 1973, he was asked about the belief of some that NADOI dictated a particular method of training. Said John: “Nothing could be further from the truth. An instructor, in order to be effective, must be comfortable with, and must have confidence in, whatever methods he is using. In fact, nobody can, or should, dictate to him what method he can or cannot use. The only thing the association insists on is that whatever method is being used is in the best interest of the dog, the handler, and the sport.”
Today, NADOI, as an association of professional dog obedience instructors, still follows these words. NADOI does not dictate methods or tools to our members, and will always encourage them to keep their minds open to many ideas, both old and new. With these ideals paramount, we will continue to grow and find new and better ways to serve our members. It is an exciting time!