Written by Margaret Anderson
AZQuailToday caught up with Ward Hickey, the incoming V.P. of the Arizona Pointing Dog Club, and Marty Elliot, head of the club’s outreach committee, for a chat about what the club does and how members benefit. “First of all,” says Hickey, “we are a dog training club and not associated with any group such as NAVDA or anything like that. We have a strong membership and we’re the largest pointing dog club in Arizona, maybe in the U.S.A — the club is geared around and designed for folks who want to train their pointing dogs.” All breeds are represented, and the club provides an environment to start training your dog on birds.
It’s a big club, so Marty and Ward recommend you take the initiative – ask around – they don’t help you train your dog, they put dog people together and you can find people who fit you, but you have to do the leg work. There are all different levels of dogs, and the Hunter class is the best class for novice dogs. It can be intimidating to go to a trial and run against people, but at the club you’ll be able to find someone with experience who can advise you about the rules that different organizations have. It’s a social club, so it’s lots of fun, but you also learn a lot about training your dog, whether you want to do field trials or not.
“People from other states are coming to our club,” they said, “because there’s no club like it where they live.” The club creates opportunities to meet other dog people and learn skills, look for tips, etc. They also have their own trials, and they are $40/day. You can only run a pointing dog, which would include even a lab if it’s a pointing lab. No flushing dogs, for example. Also, the club does not recommend trainers or guides. You can talk to other members about their experiences, though, and make your own decisions.
They have about five trials a year and it’s an opportunity to spend a weekend in the prettiest parts of Arizona, see how your dog does, and get help from more experienced members. “All of us are hunters,” says Hickey. At the trials, there is a potluck on Saturday night, and dogs that place can be in the Championship in the spring.
There are a lot of different opinions on training dogs, and you’ll find a variety of opinions in the club as well. Some people say a dog is either a hunter or a trial dog, not both. Some guys want their dog steady to shot – in other words, when a dog points a bird, he should hold tight and not run after it until you tell him it’s okay. Ward and Marty put forth the opinion that steady to shot means that when the bird flushes, the dog is watching you instead of the bird, so he doesn’t know where it went. This can cause delays, which are costing you in a trial if that’s what you like to do. There are so many things to think about when training a dog, and that’s where the club comes in – you can talk to a variety of people, learn a lot, hear a lot of opinions, and make up your own mind.
The common denominator in the club members is a love for working pointing dogs – if that describes you, this is the club for you. You’ll find a great social environment and end up with a good dog. The meetings are the second Tuesday of each month starting at 7:00 pm at a Denny’s in Tempe, and a newsletter is published and sent to all members once a month. The newsletter has things like want ads, stories from members, trial results, photos, and ads from professional trainers and such. Dues are $30/year for an individual or $45/year for a family. Upcoming trials are planned for Fues Hill (Kaibab Lake) in northern Arizona, which is beautiful country. They also have training days where everyone is invited to bring their dogs, as well as training seminars by professional trainers, trap and skeet, and even weekend hunts for Mearns and Scaled quail during season, among other things. Meet people, meet dogs, learn to train your dog, and have fun. That’s what it’s all about.