Our Executive and Committee members are nominated, voted and elected at our Annual General Meeting held at the beginning of the new financial year.
Committee meetings are held on the second Tuesday of every month at 7pm in the Club house - all members are welcome.
Linda Thomas (President)
Tony Gardiner (Vice- President)
Carol Zietsch (Treasurer)
Danielle Zietsch (Secretary)
Mark Johnston (Chief Instructor)
George Bartolo OAM
The Club started on the 20th February 1960 as the Illawarra German Shepherd Dog Club and was both a breed and obedience Club. Following a trial where other breeds of dogs were introduced into classes the name was changed to the Illawarra Dog Training Club on 20th August 1967, with the sole aim of the club being for obedience training. The initial training sessions were held at the scout hall in Victoria Street, followed by a move to the Wollongong Showground.
In 1966 training was moved to a paddock owned by BHP at Masters Road, Coniston. The set up here was very basic with no water on site, a dry toilet and a tarpaulin for protection. The construction of a corrugated iron shed with a dirt floor was a major improvement! In 1978 the Lord Mayor of Wollongong in his role as Patron advised the club to look for a larger, more suitable training ground. The council offered part of JJ Kelley Park, Swan Street on the condition that the club help themselves to get ahead. This challenge was enthusiastically taken up by the committee and with materials donated by, or purchased at, a reduced price from local businesses and with BHP apprentices learning their trades the clubhouse was built. The first training session at the new grounds took place place on 26th June 1982 with the official opening on 14th August 1982.
The fund raising efforts commenced in earnest in 1981 with a “buy a brick” campaign, raffles, 200 clubs, lamington drives and trash and treasure stalls. The members would collect “unwanted items” from home over a number of weeks, all items would be sorted and priced before loading onto a truck for transport to the markets. Surprisingly all the items were always sold and some were even resold at the same place on the same day! The original club building has now been extended twice.
The first time was to add a storeroom. The second time to add the toilets, negating the need to have to utilise the public toilets adjacent to the playground. Self-sufficiency was finally achieved. A light pole was erected and lights installed in 1991 to enable night training to take place on our own grounds. Previous to this, Lysaghts Oval at Figtree had been used for night time training. This same venue had been used prior to 1981 for the holding of annual trails.
In 1982 an instructors training program was developed to better prepare the instructors of the club to undertake the task of teaching and explaining to the general members how to understand and train their dogs. This has been refined over the past 20 years to the stage that our instructors now have to pass both a theory and practical examination and work with an experienced instructor before being allowed to go solo.
Illawarra has always been at the forefront of innovation in the training of dogs and dog activities. Our members have and still do compete in the dog sports of obedience, agility, tracking and gundog working tests. The experience gained from this competition work is brought back and passed onto the members in class.
1988 saw the adoption of “puppy” classes when it was realised that dogs were not being socialised correctly at an early enough age. These classes still continue in a revised and improved format. For those people who do not feel comfortable in a normal class format we now also run a basic awareness and responsibility knowledge course where the participants have the same senior and experienced instructor for the length of the course enabling a more personalised and subjective training.
Over the years the club has given demonstrations at schools, nursing and retirement homes, clubs, sporting events, shows and community events.
We do this to make the community more aware of our activities and to educate and show the importance of having a well-mannered and well behaved dog. We have continually endeavoured to cater for a range of requirements from people wanting basic control through to people wishing to enter the sport of dog competition.
The success of the Club can be measured in our annual membership, the number of past members who return with a new dog and the success of our trailers who have been successful at State and National titles, NSW and interstate Royals at the many trials held through NSW almost every weekend.
Lord Mayor Frank Arkell officially opening the new Club House with Club President Peter Franks