Northern Obedience Dog Club started in the early 1950s when a group of people, mainly German Shepherd owners, interested in obedience began to meet regularly to train their dogs. The group continued to grow and expand. By 1954 the group of enthusiasts, which included Les McMiller and Wally Young, decided to seek affiliation with the Victorian Kennel Control Council. The application was approved in August 1954 and Northern and Districts Obedience Dog Training Club became a fully-fledged member of the KCC.
In the early days training took place at various grounds in Coburg until finally the group became established at De Chene Reserve in Bell Street. This branch continued to operate until the end of the 1960s.
A branch was also opened in the 1950s in Preston. Members of Northern have always been innovative and willing to try new ideas and mid- week training was introduced at the Preston ground until this particular branch closed in the early 1960s. A branch at Williamstown was also operating, when Williamstown branch closed, three grounds continued with Keon Park opening later.
Throughout the 1960s the club continued to grow and prosper until there were four branches operating: Coburg, Aberfeldie, Heidelberg and Keon Park. Each of the branches had reasonably high memberships and four times a year inter-branch competitions were conducted. A high degree of friendly rivalry existed with each branch determined to win the shield that was offered. Each branch conducted the competition until both Coburg and Keon Park branches decided to close.
Another activity that developed around this time was the annual dog match and annual cricket match against Southern Obedience Dog Club. These activities continued for many years. The main reason these came to an end was the increase in the number of obedience trials held annually and the difficulty in finding suitable dates. In the 1960s many club members became involved in a number of fund raising activities. Every Good Friday many club members and their dogs would participate in street collections that raised substantial amounts for the Royal Children’s Hospital. The Annual Guide Dog Day was another activity sponsored by Northern that raised in the vicinity of $11,000 for the Victorian- Guide Dog School to purchase and train guide dogs for the blind. This day was like a giant family picnic with handlers and dogs from all clubs participating in many novelty events. Probably the most famous activity was the Miracle Recall organised by the late Alan Hayman. This was when nearly every dog participated in a mass recall over a distance of 500 metres, the winner being the first dog back to its owner. Many funny things also occurred in th1s event.
The Annual Moomba Trial and Fun Day was also organised by Northern. This took place on the holiday Monday and gave the general public the opportunity to see obedience dogs in action and also to watch many novelty events such as the longest broad jump. (For those of you who are interested, the record was held by a Greyhound from Altona – 18′ 6″) This event unfortunately ended when it became too difficult to organise parking for all members of participating clubs.
By the 1970’s the club had changed its name to Northern Obedience Dog club and consolidated into two branches; Aberfeldie and Heidelberg. The club continued to operate in this way for many years.
Northern was again innovative throughout the 1970’s and organised the first Unregistered Trials for Crossbred and Pedigree dogs without papers when they were stopped from entering sanctioned KCC trials. Ultimately through the hard work of Northern and other Clubs the Associate Register was established by the KCC.
For a variety of reasons, towards the end of the 1970’s the club was split into two separate clubs. Aberfeldie remained the home of Northern Obedience Dog club and Warringal Obedience dog Club was established by the Heidelberg branch members.
In 1980 Northern had their first permanent home that is the Clubhouse in use today. Before this the club had operated from two tents that were erected and dismantled every Sunday morning. Wednesday evening training was re-introduced with the establishment of the Clubhouse. Northern was and still is an innovative Club. The club has always been willing to assist new clubs to become established and more importantly willing to try new ideas. Puppy training from 12 weeks of age was introduced in 1972 and in 1994 puppies were admitted from 8 weeks of age. Tracking classes were held in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.
Several members indicated an interest in learning Agility in the early 1980’s. John Varley was brought to Melbourne by Pal to teach the necessary skills to those members of the dog world who were interested in this discipline. A number of Northern members were involved in the establishment of the Pal Superdog Team. From this early beginning, the sport of Agility developed and members of Northern have had the opportunity to learn these skills as well as those of Obedience since then.
The club has always had a core of enthusiastic and hardworking members who have all contributed in some way to making Northern what it is today, the second oldest obedience club in Victoria with a very long and proud history. The club through its members will continue to grow, prosper and meet the challenges of the new millennium.