WSOTC history and club documents


originally written by Keith & Marilyn Wittmeyer for our 50th trial and updated by Sue Cox for our 75th anniversary in 2021.

WSOTC was founded in August of 1946 by a small group of fifteen responsible dog lovers interested in promoting excellence in dog obedience when they held its first meeting to establish this club. Each of the fifteen recognized the difficult tasks that lay ahead before the newly formed club could hold an AKC trial. At this meeting, Mr. K. Durkoop was elected president and Mrs. Janet (Hank) Wilcox was elected as secretary. The program for this first meeting was Blanche Saunders’ movie on novice obedience.

In preparation for an obedience trial, it was necessary to hold two matches; these were held in July and November of 1947. Then in February 1949, WSOTC held its first AKC licensed obedience trial in association with the Washington State Associated Specialty Clubs at the Seattle Civic Auditorium (on what is now the Seattle Center grounds). The membership soon became enthusiastically involved in a training program and in the early years classes were free of charge. Charging for classes started in 1953, the year WSOTC was incorporated as a non-profit organization in the State of Washington.

For a period of time in the 1950s the club held training classes in an armory, which was large enough for four classes at one time, one in each corner of the dull hall. This made it possible to conduct eight classes an evening. After the armory was no longer available, the club purchased an old church on Stone Way in Seattle. This was sold within two to three years, because rapid growth of membership caused the training area to become inadequate and the building was in need of considerable repairs.

In the 1950s membership steadily grew and the community began to recognize WSOTC as a service and educational organization. One of the outstanding programs was the show for children at Children’s Orthopedic Hospital. The group of approximately 20 dogs was organized by Mrs. Ila Clark. The dogs played games with the children such as Ring Around the Rosy and Drop the Hanky, and owners and dogs even did square dancing. Dogs were also trained to push doll carriages and pass out balloons among the children. Another group, called the “Circus Shoe,” entertained at high schools with eight to ten dogs, which were taught to disobey their masters. A drill team of some thirty dogs performed at such places as Sick’s Stadium, Seattle Kennel Club and Olympic Kennel Club shows and for groups of Boy and Girl Scouts. For many years Club members have shown obedience trained dogs in exhibitions primarily at nursing homes, schools and shopping centers.

In 1956 the Club conducted a ten-week course of novice obedience on television. One lesson was presented each week and these sessions were offered for several seasons. In 1958, in conjunction with the Humane Society, Merle Marsh took telephone calls from the public and helped people with dog-related problems and in locating lost dogs, a service which the Club continued for several years. In 1958, the Club held its first obedience clinic, presented by Blanche Saunders. In the years since, WSOTC has sponsored many such obedience training seminars presented by outstanding, nationally known obedience trainers. The year 1958 also saw the appearance of the Club’s monthly newsletter, the Canine Post, whose first editor was Louis Prince.

Betty Winthers, a member of WSOTC since 1957, was one of the pioneers of tracking in this region, and the Club held its first AKC tracking test, with eight entries, in October 1964, at Marymoor Park. Over the years the Club has held yearly Tracking Dog and Tracking Dog Excellent tests. In the early 1970s, WSOTC was one of the first clubs to introduce Scent Hurdle Relay Racing to the Northwest and, about the same time, Kindergarten Puppy Training classes were initiated into the regular training class program. In line with the Club’s continuing program of service to the community, various Club members and outside guests helped present a television series on Channel 3 Cablevision in 1974-75 covering many aspects of dog ownership and training.

Our membership during the 1970s to 1990s totaled around 200; at that time there were several members who had been members for 40 years or more. The Club’s membership included a large number of AKC obedience and tracking judges. Our membership these days is much smaller, just over 60 (7 of whom are AKC judges). We are always interested in welcoming new members.

WatchingObedience Trials
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The A-frameAgility Trials
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Tracking TrialsTracking Tests
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