In just a few weeks, the Rocky Mountain Chapter of NAVHDA will kick off its 2017 schedule, so I wanted to take just a few minutes to update you on your Board’s recent annual meeting.
As we entered 2016, former president Phil Booghier outlined three big challenges for the chapter: financial stability, fundraising and membership. We had also seen some significant turnover on the Board. It seemed to me the Chapter was at an inflection point – I was concerned about where the next generation of leadership was going to come from.
Boy did that change in a hurry!
Membership doubled. Our financial picture stabilized. (That allowed us to leave dues unchanged for 2017.) We quickly found we were swamped at training days. And a cadre of young, very energetic members and new blood stepped up to help us deal with the growth. We’ve got a large ( and growing) group of handlers who have completed Natural Ability training and are moving to developing the advanced skills that characterize a fully functional versatile hunting dog.
For the cherry on top, super-volunteer Rick Huber, who does double duty as the president of the Frontier Chapter, handled his Griff Norton to a Versatile Champion title at the NAVHDA Invitational in Ohio. Congrats Rick!
Now we have another challenge – Making sure we serve your needs as you work to train up the hunting dog that you want.
To that end, we’re offering three new training opportunities in 2017: An indoor training day on Feb. 25, a force-fetch clinic in June and an advanced skills training clinic in July.
We’ve also been gratified by the number of you who have stepped up to volunteer at our training and test events – and those who have expressed interest in learning about leadership roles in the Chapter. So we’re going to create a Volunteer Corps to formalize some of the training and help spread the workload in an effort to avoid volunteer burnout.
But to be fully successful, we need your help. First, we’re using an online application to build training day rosters. Please respond to invitations from Signup Genius to help us build training day plans and wrangle enough volunteers to keep handlers training and not standing around waiting.
Second, we need you to understand that we’re here to help you learn how to train your dog, but that you need to become your own training director. No one knows your dog like you: Is he/she soft or a knucklehead? Did your dog just blink a bird or did it miss the scent? What’s worked in the past? What hasn’t worked? For Utility handlers especially, you need to be training at least once a week on birds – and a couple times a week at home on other skills. From experience I can tell you it’s so much easier and more effective if you can work birds a small group.
So as you look around you at our March training day, try find a partner or handful of handlers to work with this year. Don’t be araid to ask one of the more experienced handlers if you can meet with them for training. Your dog will love you for it.
That’s all for now. If you haven’t updated your membership, please do. Training season is just around the corner.
See you in the field!