Heather Rees said the Carroll Kennel Club thrives on community service and encourages people to build relationships with animals at the same time.
Rees is the president of the Carroll Kennel Club, a service organization that supports various youth programs, disaster-related projects, and other canine-related activities for the Carroll County community and at large, according to the organization’s website.
The club conducts annual American Kennel Club-sanctioned conformation shows and agility trials in addition to classes in Conformation Handling, Therapy Dog and Canine First Aid. Starting April 1, the club will start dock diving practice sessions at Timber Ridge Pet Resort in Upperco.
“I think it’s great,” Rees said. “I have my dogs and I wanted to get more involved in doing things with them, so I just started researching all these different things. I found that we have a local group in Westminster and I didn’t know anything about it.
“As president, I’m trying to get the club more active with different kinds of sports and find the people that want to do more with their dogs or give back to the community.”
Rees said she got involved with her dogs Leo, Piper and Whim after noticing how much the organization does for others. The club provided Carroll County fire companies with oxygen masks for animals and purchased training materials for the Carroll County Sheriff’s office as well.
Club members also work with the Warrior Canine Connection in Boyds to help train service dogs for military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.
A membership with the Carroll Kennel Club costs $20 per year and membership forms can be downloaded from the club’s website. The club hosts a number of events from summer picnics to holiday parties designed to celebrate the successes of every club member. Educational programs are provided throughout the year at the club’s general meetings, which were open to the public prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The club meets every month via Zoom and Rees said anyone is more than welcome to join those meetings.
Kim Roberts used to build agility courses for the Carroll Kennel Club and other American Kennel Club affiliates in the area when she was approached by someone who suggested she become a Carroll Kennel Club member.
She had already been agility training with her Shetland Sheepdog and said she loves the breed because they are fast learners that are willing to work. She joined the club in 2018.
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“After joining the club, I’ve made many new friends, many good friends, and I’ve learned about so many more activities you can do with your dog,” Roberts said. “If your dog isn’t necessarily interested in one activity, there are so many different kinds you can do to find one that develops that relationship between you and your dog.”
“It’s an amazing experience when you can bond like that.”
On April 3, the club will provide testing for the Canine Good Citizen program, a two-part course designed to help owners and their dogs develop confidence and good mannerisms together.
The program is AKC-certified and includes 10 basic skills for dogs and their owners to master, according to the AKC website. CGC also lays the foundation for other AKC-related sports and activities like obedience, agility, tracking, and performance events.
Rees said spectators will not be permitted to attend due to the pandemic.
The club currently boasts 65 members and Rees said every member has a dog of his or her own. The club accepts all breeds and people who do not have dogs of their own are encouraged to join as well.
“Any of the events we put on during the year, we take a portion of the money that we take in and look for dog organizations that need help,” Roberts said “They either help other dogs or train dogs to help people and that’s just wonderful to be able to give back like that.”