The South Africa Alsatian Club is celebrating an impressive century mark since forming in 1922. Here is more about the club and its history.
In 100 years, the South Africa Alsatian Dog Club has worked through the Great Depression, witnessed the moon landing, World War 2, 9/11, and seen the birth of the internet.
But when it comes to the Alsatian Club training dogs for a century, chairperson Jules Gordon said nothing much has changed.
“We can proudly boast that we are the oldest specialist dog training club in the country, and now we have one hundred years of experience to show for it.”
The Alsatian Dog Club of South Africa was founded in 1922 as a specialist German Shepard training club.
“At the time, the club focused on protection training for security work and obedience training,” Gordon said.
Over the years, the club stopped protection training and focused on obedience work alone.
“The club was established outside Vereeniging before it moved to Primrose. From Primrose, the club moved to the old Rand Showgrounds that form part of the Wits campus today,” Gordon said.
In the early 1970s, the club found a new home at the Goldfields Show Grounds in Bedfordview, where it is based today.
Graham Price led the club at its new home ground for more than 30 years before his death in 2018.
“In the ’70s, the club boasted a membership of over 300 German Shepard owners.”
Gordon explained that there was a waiting list for members to join.
“I remember passing by one day and saw what was happening. I didn’t have an Alsatian at the time. I would come down often and ask if there was space yet. Eventually, I decided to get a dog and figured they couldn’t turn me away if I already had the dog.
“The committee told me that I’d nagged them enough for me to be able to join. That was 40 years ago, and I’m still here,” Gordon said.
He added that the club was so large that ten different training groups were working simultaneously.
Today, however, there are 40 active members.
While very little has changed for the club in the last 100 years, they have moved away from being a specialist dog training club.
“Now we have other shepherds, Spaniels, a Rottweiler, and even Beagles and Bassets as members of the club,” Gordon said.
He added that it was good for both the Alsatians and the other dogs.
“The puppies in the club will grow up with other dogs from other breeds. One member rescues only Swiss Shepherds and turns them into carting champions,” Gordon said.
He added that knowledge from the last 100 years is passed down to every new member of the club, but at the same time, members always take the time to listen to and try someone else’s training methods, “because you never know what might work.”
“Every dog is their own animal. What works for the one, might not work for the next.”
Gordon said what makes a German Shepherd so special is their fierce loyalty and intelligence.
“You have to remember that German Shepherds are working dogs, and that means they have to be kept busy.
“They thrive as family dogs. They need to be part of a family. They need to socialize with other dogs and people.
“They are very faithful and will instinctively protect those they love,” Gordon said.
He added that owners need to spend time with their dogs and understand that the breed was and is still bred to work.
“They can live to be 12 or more years old, and when you bring one into your family, you need to make sure you understand that it is your responsibility to care for them and be a companion to that dog for the rest of its life. You are its family, and it will want to be your companion.”
Gordon said that dog training is a commitment a person makes to their companion.
“Training is not a three-week or three-month thing. It’s a lifetime thing. You both will always learn, and you will work together,” Gordon said.
Every Saturday, the club trains at the Goldfields Show Grounds in Bedfordview from 2 PM to 3 PM, while puppy classes take place from 2:15 PM to 3 PM.
For more information about the club and membership, contact Jules Gordon on 082 552 3148.