Banner - 2o2o Contact Training DVD

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Bye-Bye (PSLRA) Puget Sound Labrador Retriever Club

After being an active member for over 10 years, last night my hubby Dan resigned his membership to the PSLRA (Lab Club). I was sad for him because he grew up in the club, supported their events (obedience, agility & hunt tests) and participated whenever possible (Agility Trial Chair and/or Committee Member for several shows and was a shooter at their hunt tests). I should also add that so did both of his parents, Keith & Beth.

Unfortunately, over the last few years he has seen a club develop that as he said "Is no longer family friendly....and fails to foster relationships beyond the core click." Everyone's allowed their opinion and by no means does that mean every member falls into this category. On the contrary, the majority of members are WONDERFUL. So hang in there with me while I share some of the behind the scenes things that influenced Dan. I would venture to say the majority of the club has no idea what goes on...

Board Meetings & Minutes
Although Dan and I aren't able to attend the majority of the Meetings due to our work schedules, we read every word of the published minutes. It was our way of keeping up in a club that we considered ourselves active members of.

So it was a big surprise to us when we noticed that procedures and topics were occurring/being discussed & implemented, but weren't always properly documented or even mentioned in the meeting minutes. That seemed a bit strange to us so we asked about them, thinking we'd missed something. We received answers like "Not everything has to be reported to the Club Members" and "If you would have attended the meetings in person, you would have known."

First, the PSLRA membership is spread across the Puget Sound. There are active paying members in Alaska, Idaho, Eastern Washington and more. They, as well as everyone else who is unable to attend each meeting deserves complete & accurate Meeting Minutes.

Second, it is my understanding that the Club status require accurate Meeting Minutes. If you look at the AKC Board of Director Meeting Minutes, it is very clear what business and/or topics have been reviewed. This is not the case with PSLRA's Meeting Minutes.

Third, as a PAYING club member the Board should have an open door policy. Whether intentional or not, missing items and answers like those given above appear suspicious. They may not be, but perception is key and as a paying member, we'd like to know what the Board (who represents us and makes decisions on the funds we've given or worked for) is doing.

Budgeting, It's for Everyone
First, I applaud the Board Members for taking measures to control costs and request each event committee submit a budget for approval for their respective event. However, the budgeting was inconsistently applied to different events in 2009.

For example, the Spring & Fall Agility Trials are the two main money-makers for the club (most club members won't know this because the budgeting results are incomplete or non-existent in the Meeting Minutes, although they are specifically discussed at the Board Meetings). Unfortunately, the Specialties, Tracking & Hunt Tests generally require support from the Club's main fund.

Agility Trial Costs, What Everyone Should Know
When doing an Agility Trial, the main costs are Location, Equipment, Trial Secretarial Fees and Judging Fees. Keeping in mind that times are tough and as an active club member, last year on January 28, 2009 Dan & I secured and forwarded an equipment proposal to the Board which would have saved PSLRA over $2,400 per year over a 3 year period. We waited for weeks and did not receive a response or even an acknowledgement on the proposal.

It wasn't until we brought the issue back up were we told that for various reasons the club would not be able to accept the proposal. No problem, so the equipment vendor mentioned in the proposal isn't able to work at one location...but budgeting & securing the best price helps everyone, right?

Lesson Learned - Never Question The Board
Our next question was to ask why, when the committees were being asked to jump through hoops to reduce costs, why the board wasn't working to negotiate a better equipment rate with the CURRENT vendors. After all, other clubs were already receiving substantial discounts and Dan & I would rather see our club dues go further. Wouldn't you?

The reply from the current (soon to be former) President completely ignored the question and instead of addressing the issue, misdirected the topic to appear as a personal attack. Ugh, now why were we caring so much about money when the Board didn't want to take the extra step? So we moved on because it was clear there wasn't going to be a factual answer to our factual question.

2010 - Quotes from Vendors That Isn't Happening
As part of the new procedures that were recently put through by the Board, committees are to receive quotes from various vendors. Excellent! This should hopefully allow for reduced or negotiated pricing, right?

Wrong. So far, quotes have not been solicited from multiple vendors for the agility equipment (an annual estimated cost of approximately $4,700). Nor have they solicited quotes from multiple ribbon vendors (estimated annual cost of approximately $2,600). Nor have they solicited quotes from multiple Trial Secretaries (estimated annual cost of approximately $6,200). Oh, did I mention we're now 5 months out from the Spring Trial...time is running short.

Volunteers are Often Ignored
Budgeting issues aside, over the last several years, I've heard several PSLRA members volunteer for various committees, booths and other events. More often than not I've heard the following responses "Oh, so-and-so does that and we don't want to step on their toes" or worse yet, there is no response from the Board or a trial committee to a person's request to volunteer.

Our current (soon to be former) President & Board has done this to the Selthofer family on several occasions (if you're interested, the notes on just one example are below). The first note was sent on 10/26/09, the second on 11/24/09 and the third on 12/24/09. The delay in response has since lost 4 volunteers and will now cost the club additional funds in late fees to apply to hold the Spring Agility Trial. Why does this effect you? Because that's membership dues from 2 members down the drain.

Hiding Information, It's Just Bad Form
We hate to bring this one up, but somethings just need to be addressed.

We were disappointed when the current President received feedback from a disgruntled former PSLRA Member (and owner of one of her dogs) regarding the Spring Agility Trial and chose NOT to share the information with the entire Board or with any members of the Spring Agility Trial Committee.

The facts are that the former PSLRA member brought an injured dog to the trial and even went into great detail with some of the Trial Committee members about "How they weren't sure they're dog was going to it hurt it's back previously" etc. The judge had laid an awkward line from the triple spread jump to the dog walk. Several handlers didn't recognize the challenge and didn't set it up properly, so their dogs weren't able to get a straight approach and subsequently came off the obstacle prematurely. Five judges reviewed the equipment and all of them found the equipment to be safe. Additionally, this particular piece of equipment had been in storage for the last year and was last used at the previous year's trial so there was no wear & tear on the equipment.

However, the disgruntled person took the opportunity to falsely claim that the equipment injured their perfectly healthy dog (which as we know is a stretch). In our opinion, they also took advantage of the friendship that exists with the PSLRA President.

More importantly the acting President had an obligation to the club and the Spring Trial Committee to bring any issues forward. Not sharing these items is disrespectful to the Trial Committee, undermines the efforts of volunteers and could be viewed as an abuse of a club position/power.

Lab Rescue, Where Is It?
We realize this is a personal topic of importance to us, but we rarely hear about Lab Rescue. Dan and I have both offered to host Agility Fun Runs to benefit Lab Rescue. I've volunteered training time to assist dogs in rescue. Again, our suggestions were ignored or written off as being not important.

Labs are the #1 registered dog in the AKC and the potential for rescue/labs needing assistance has got to be large. We belong to other clubs with less popular dogs and hear far more about their rescue efforts. Additionally, they have welcomed our suggestions and time stating that "Rescue needs all of the resources and assistance they can utilize..." I'm CERTAIN the Lab Rescue is doing something, but instead we hear more about breeder dogs needing homes.

We can't help but ask, why isn't PSRA a successful club with money, doing more to help rescue Labs?

There are clubs out there that appreciate their volunteers. Maybe PSLRA does, but they've failed to consistently spread the good will & cheer with all. We love our Lab Friends (both human & 4-legged) and will continue to be life-long friends.

Take Care,

The Selthofers

Back-up data:

Notes ignored by President of PSLRA:
October 26, 2009

We just started our planning for the June 2010 Agility Trial and I heard through the grapevine that those interested in being the Chair of an event need to make a request to you.

Is this true and does it apply to events & committees that were already in place? (such as the June Agility Trial). Also, what is the reasoning?

Also, if this is true, I'm assuming that Cheri Levine, former Board Member and Trial Chair for more than 4 Agility events is acceptable?

November 24, 2009
Hey Everyone,
I haven't received a response back on the below e-mail. If the June Agility Event is going to happen, we need to get the AKC application in asap as well as secure our location and finalize other contractual items in order to avoid late fees.
Also, it is possible the Levine's may bow out of this year's Trial Committee duties, at which time as the co-chair for the last 3 years, I would be taking on the role as singular Trial Chair.
Please let me know asap what, if any, new Board approvals are needed and if I have approval for the following:
  • Complete the AKC Event Application & submit to the Board for Approval & signature
  • Request a Count for left-over ribbons
  • To Secure the Trial Site (same place as last year) & request a contract for Board Approval & signature
  • To Secure the Trial Secretary (same folks as last year) & request a contract for Board Approval & signature
  • To Secure the Equipment Vendor (same company as last year) & request a contract for Board Approval & signature
  • To request a contract for Board Approval for our judges & signatures (one judge is the same as last year)
  • To request a copy of last year's budget as well as actual expenses from our Treasurer
  • To request information from our Treasurer on the ribbon vendor (same as last year)
Thanks in advance for your attention on this.

Sent on 12/24/09
PSLRA Board,

Hey Folks,

I sent two notes, one on October 26th and another on November 26th offering to again volunteer for the fourth year on the June Agility Trial in 2010. Unfortunately, I did not receive any responses, which is disappointing since this is a highly intensive event and is always in need of volunteers.

Since I did not receive a response, I have since accepted an Agility judging opportunity in Maine and will not be available to assist.

I'm bringing this to your attention because I've heard from other members who have volunteered that they too have not received responses to their offer to volunteer. Additionally they noted that months later they then saw an e-mail or newsletter announcement requesting volunteers for the same event they expressed an interest in.

This is just an fyi and feedback on something I've experienced and heard others discuss. PSLRA is a great club with great people, again this is just an fyi.


  1. Dan and Lisa, you have been wonderful members and great folks. You will be missed very much!It is a shame when this type of behavior leads to a loss in real folks.
    Mary Hallowell

  2. I find this a horrendous (non) response by a regional club. Since AKC did it at Eukanuba, therefore it is OK for PSLRA to do it? We pay our dues and get NO accounting for what it is spent on.
    The club claims they promote a dog for all reasons, but obviously that is not the case. As a long time volunteer I have been rode hard and put away wet MANY times and have started to become disillusioned with the "we love and appreciate" all our Labrador family as parroted by the Club. I agree with your comments, Dan and Lisa, and although you will be missed, I don't blame you in the least. Hope you have a better experience elsewhere as you have much to give and much to offer.

  3. While I agree with some of this content I don't agree with the approach..I do feel that there is a definate click and that the board seems to not have the whole clubs best interests at heart, more their own, but isnt' that how life usually goes. And is it Really appropriate for it to be aired on a public forum from the one sided opinion of it. How would you feel if someone within your group did this same thing to you about your agility club, judging, etc. I guess in this day and age, two wrongs do make it right.
    A dog for all reasons does not just include agility. It includes conformation, hunt tests, therapy work, rally, obedience, tracking, drug detection, search and rescue, the list goes on.It is well known that some people take their dogs to one venue Only, only help at that venue and only care about that venue. Then complain that no one helps in that venue. What about those members that are involved in All the venues as competitors and volunteers. It's easy to sit back and say how much some one's lack of support for my choosen venue is horrendous, but is that really going to solve anything. Good luck in your future, Dan you will be missed greatly.

  4. These are great comments, even those that don't agree with me : )

    I've been asked "Why a public approach?" Here's why:

    It wasn't with the intent to promote a rift or to tear the club a part (which we firmly believe will NOT happen), but instead to promote change. Dan and I tried, repeatedly over the years to participate, to work with the club (i.e. the Board) and to create a positive experience. At almost every juncture we came face to face with a brick wall, deaf ears, excuses and worse yet, unrelated personal topics thrown in our face.

    Rather than view our note as a slam, we hope PSLRA will view it as an opportunity to promote change and to ensure committees follow through and adhere to guidelines like the new Vendor Process (just one example). And NO, this does not mean the club should use Premier K9 Club (my company's) equipment. Actually, we have indicated we will not be bidding to provide equipment to PSLRA mainly because our interests are moving us in a different direction.

    Additionally, this isn't about Agility. We used Agility as an example because that is the high-budget venue we were most knowledgeable about.

    If we had been the only ones who felt as was written, the information would never have gone public. However, we're not the only ones. Not even close.

    I know it's easy to take these things personally and again, we sincerely apologize for that. Unfortunately, as outsiders who were continuously trying to get information and be included, we found it very difficult and unwelcoming.

    I realize I'm taking the fall as the bad guy, but it is not because we are disgruntled and wish ill-will. On the contrary, I think the club will be stronger and better than ever.

    And as for my blog being highly public, when thinking of the millions of websites & blogs, my little blog is being given way too much credit! : )

  5. Most of the people on the PSLRA Board are the backbone of this club and devote more (totally unpaid) time than most other members towards club objectives. They are dues paying members. Most of the event chairs are also board members. The webmaster is a board member. The newsletter editor is a board member. The litter listing chair is a board member. The membership chair is a former board member. The number of truly ACTIVE, CONTRIBUTING members of this club is actually quite tiny in proportion to the overall membership. Given the number of activities this club offers, it means many of the same people are volunteering at multiple events and are the ones that deserve the credit for making this club what it is. My time, like everyone else's, is limited. Because of that, I volunteer in those areas in which I have an interest. I have chaired past events and have volunteered at both hunt tests, the 5-series, the tracking test, the fun field days, the fun obedience days, the show n go, and have been on the specialty committee. I have worked at the club educational booth at SKC. On the flip side, I have no interest at all in agility and expect those that do to step up and support that venue. Frankly, I would love to know where all of the ignored offers for help are located because I did not hear from any of those people when I was searching for people to work the hunt test. All of my volunteers were the same ones who always show up to help and thank goodness for them - thank you! The hunt tests used to be big money makers, but due to lack of volunteers, we now have to pay non-members and young adults to work these events, which is very expensive.

    Like any other club, PSLRA has its ups and downs and yes, there are rude people. But it also has a lot of wonderful people who truly care - it just may be that their interests do not match up with the entire membership's. The club cannot be everything to everyone; in fact, it can only be as much as each individual can give, and it has been my experience that very few individuals are willing to give more than their annual dues payments and opinions on the chat list. Payment of dues does not make one an active member of a club. Obviously, there is no excuse for rude behavior (on anyone's part), but it has been my experience that the active members of this club do care and try to do right by the membership. There are very few Labrador Breed clubs that offer the number of activities and opportunities for its members than PSLRA does - certainly not on the West Coast. Most clubs offer a specialty show (many have dropped their obedience trials) and that is it. If you are lucky they will offer a hunt test or a WC. I'd be willing to bet there are more Champions or Champion-pointed Labradors with performance titles owned/bred by members of PSLRA than in an other Labrador club in the country, with the possible exception of the LRC, Inc. This does not happen in a club with a board that does not care about the all-around dog.

  6. PSLRA members ARE great and I love some of the points you brought up. You may have hit the nail on the head on a few things like:

    1) why opportunities aren't available to non-board members. The Board is, by choice, doing it all. Thank goodness, but there are quite a few people getting the impression that their time is not needed/wanted because "that's so and so's baby". It could very well be that's not true, but that's what folks are being told...

    2) it seems the Board is so tight and in-tune with each other (both good things) that there is a portion of the general PSLRA population that is being inadvertently shut out.

    Great points! Lisa