Since 1945, the Mountaineer Kennel Club has been helping dogs live better lives.
Based in Morgantown and an affiliate of the American Kennel Club, the club offers training classes for owners and their dogs. While the club’s territory serves Marion, Monongalia and Preston counties, the club also attracts students from Maryland and Pennsylvania.
The all-volunteer, nonprofit club offers training classes such as puppy kindergarten, fundamentals of obedience and canine good citizen prep. These training sessions meet once a week for 50 minutes at the community center at Mylan Park. Sessions usually last six weeks.
The basic goal of the club is to promote dog ownership to the public.
“We train the owner to train the dog,” explained Terry Hill, a trainer and board member at Mountaineer Kennel Club. Hill has been assisting and teaching classes for 20 years.
Hill said she began teaching because of her love for dogs.
“I’ve had dogs all my life,” she said. “And ever since I was a little kid, I had a dog on a lead trying to get it to do things.”
Now, Hill gets to teach others how to train their own dogs.
She said that the best part about teaching is seeing everyone having a good time.
“The camaraderie between dogs and owners and how happy the people are and how happy the dogs are as they begin to understand what they owners want them to learn,” Hill said. “Once the owners see them succeeding, the confidence just skyrockets.”
For fun, they often do a different kind of contest at the end of training sessions — a wagging contest. Just as it sounds, the owners must get their dogs to wag their tail in any way possible. Some owners jump around, play with their dog, or even yell a little. Hill said that it’s amazing to watch.
“They really have a good time, and that’s the goal in the class,” Hill said. “People really have to have a good time, or the class is not successful.”
Zoë Dall’oli has taken all her dogs to Mountaineer Kennel Club. She recently attended a puppy class with her cattle dog, Willow, where they learned how to get their puppies used to being handled, which involves cuddling and massaging the dog. She said it was just something fun to be involved in.
“I wanted to get involved in something fun with my dogs,” Dall’oli said. “They offered a variety of classes to get started with.”
She said that MKC is an overall positive place.
“The MKC has a very welcoming and supportive atmosphere,” she said. “There are a wide variety of dogs and people who attend the classes, and the trainers are always very attentive and focused on setting both the people and the dogs up for success.”
Dall’oli said that the trainers even use positive reinforcements for the dogs and it is a fun place to be.
Hill said that teaching these classes are a relaxing part of her day. Not only does she get to meet all the dogs, but she gets to talk to all the students, too. And Hill said that she gets close to her students from her.
“I’ve made so many friends just out of my students in class and they still call me for help,” Hill said. “I have people who took the class two years ago and they still call me for help occasionally.”
And that’s something that she tells her students do to.
“I tell them, ‘If you have a question, or if you have a problem, call me – anything’,” she said. “That’s what I’m there for.”
So, training doesn’t end in class.
Hill said that Mountaineer Kennel Club is important to the community because it helps dogs live good lives.
“This is part of the reason why so many dogs are in shelters,” Hill said. “People get them, and they have no idea what to do with people. People don’t realize when they get them, that they don’t come out of their mama knowing all these commands.”
Or sometimes, owners attend class and get intimidated.
“They will have all good intentions, and whenever they get into class sometimes, they will get intimidated because their dog isn’t doing stuff,” Hill said. “Then, the dog goes home and gets tied outside because the dog won’t behave inside the house.”
Hill explained that training the dogs keeps them living a good life with their family.
About 50 people are interested in attending their new puppy kindergarten, fundamentals of obedience and conformation classes in March.
However, they are facing their hardships. Hill said that they’re running short of instructors. To solve this, they’re trying to train some of their assistants to be able to teach a class. That way, they won’t ever have to turn people away and can continue their mission of helping dogs live better lives for years to come.
To register for a class, one must complete a class application, dog profile, waiver and submit fees. Classes fill on a first-come, first-served basis. Other classes include scent work, STAR puppy, rally and therapy dog training.
To see class information or to apply for a class, contact Mountaineer Kennel Club at [email protected] or visit their website mountaineerkc.org.