Building blues may collar pet classes

With Armory no longer an option, group looking for new site to hold its courses

Barb Clauson had her first experience with the Lawrence Jayhawk Kennel Club 17 years ago when she took her puppy, Arcto, to obedience classes offered by the group.

“I pretty much started him right away,” she said. “I knew I wanted him to go through the training, so I sought out the group.”

While Arcto died in 1999, Clauson has remained active with the kennel club. She apprenticed to become a volunteer trainer and now leads some of the organization’s obedience classes, which have been offered to the community for about 40 years.

But Lawrence Jayhawk Kennel Club, which has been in existence for 50 years, may not be able to offer obedience and agility courses for dogs and puppies this fall.

The organization has offered classes at the National Guard Armory in Lawrence. Soldiers connected with the armory have been deployed, meaning there is no one available to open the building and make the space available, said Jane Tusten, president of the Lawrence Jayhawk Kennel Club.

“We’ve been thinking about finding our own place so we can expand our hours and provide more opportunities,” she said. “We were hoping to do it on our own schedule. But we didn’t have much of a choice in the end.”

Classes in the past have only been offered on Wednesdays with six-week sessions offered once in the fall and between January and May. The obedience training courses aren’t been offered in the summer. A six-week session costs about $40.

“This is more of a community service rather than a money maker,” Tusten said.

Tusten said she and other members are hopeful they will soon find a location to lease. She said they are in negotiations for a possible location at this time. The group is optimistic, she said, despite the difficulties they have had in finding a good location.

Barb Clauson, a dog trainer with the Lawrence Kennel Club, runs her 7-year-old Belgian Sheepdog, Konza, through an agility tunnel at her home.

The kennel club members looked at about a dozen different places. Some have been stand-alone buildings. Others have been warehouses.

The size of the place has to be between 7,000 and 9,000 square feet with available parking, said Judy Hintzman, secretary of the kennel club. Some of the facilities haven’t met those needs.

“But part of the problem is that some places won’t allow dogs,” Hintzman said. “I think some people don’t realize we’re using the space for education purposes. We’re not kenneling the dogs and we’re not letting the dogs run wild.”

Members have said not finding a place isn’t an option for the kennel club. The intent is to find a new location, said Hintzman.

Clauson said she’s hopeful that a new location for classes will be found soon.

“I’ve been teaching puppy kindergarten for years and years now,” she said. “Puppies are fun and their owners are fun, and you feel like you are getting them both off to a good start. The training really benefits the owners and the dogs. It gives the dogs a chance to be good citizens and it’s also better for the public in general for the dogs to have this training.”