In 1933 a woman named
Helene Whitehouse Walker of New York wanted the public to see
and participate in the ‘thrilling new sport’ she had witnessed
on a recent trip to England – dog obedience. She was tired of
hearing people say that dogs were beautiful but dumb and had
begun seeking a way to prove this to be untrue. She held the
first ‘obedience test’ at her father’s home. There were 8 dogs
entered and 150 spectators. Word spread quickly that these dogs
and their owners could do wonderful things together and others
wanted to try.
In Baltimore in
1934 several dog lovers started obedience training in one
owner’s backyard. As others saw what they could do, the group
became too large and moved to Homewood Field at Johns Hopkins
University and Druid Hill Park where they attracted even more
attention. This was the beginning of the first obedience club in
Meanwhile the American Kennel Club began working
with Mrs. Walker and in 1936 held the first licensed Obedience
Trials. Sixteen dogs were entered and 6 became the first
Two years later the group in Baltimore held a
meeting for the purpose of formal organization. The name Dog
Owners’ Training Club of Maryland was adopted and we were
officially incorporated. In 1941 Mrs. Walker judged our
Obedience Trial which was held in conjunction with Baltimore
County Kennel Club’s Breed Show, ironically enough at the
Pikesville Armory where we are currently holding classes. Mrs.
Walker presented DOTC with a silver Revere bowl trophy that we
have awarded annually to a club member for the last 62 years.
We’re proud of our club’s close association with the founder of
AKC dog obedience and honored to say we are the second oldest,
continuously operating obedience club in the United States.
Over the years many people have put enormous
amounts of time, thought and energy into making this club a
success. During World War II club members donated dogs to the
Army and volunteered at Fort Holabird to help the men with their
training. Our annual Obedience Trial is continuously one of the
largest in the country. DOTC has been instrumental in working
with the AKC to develop advanced tracking tests. In 1980 two of
our members judged the first Tracking Dog Excellent test in
Winston-Salem, N. C. And in 1995 in Ellicott City, Md., we
hosted the first Variable Surface Tracking test. People came
from all over the country to watch the dogs and handlers exhibit
skills that in the past were thought to only be possible in
professionally trained K-9 dogs. Dog Owners’ in conjunction with
Baltimore County Recreation and Parks issued the first Canine
Good Citizen certifications in the eastern United States in
1989. We have consistently been involved in advancing the
abilities and achievements of obedience training.
We are a non-profit organization dedicated to
helping people become more capable and responsible dog owners.
We run approximately 200 teams through our basic course each
year. If asked what has kept us going for so many years, I think
many of us would answer that it’s knowing how many dogs have had
a better life because of what we do.