Newsletters

Here’s a link to our most recent newsletter, from June 2022. (From there, you can read earlier issues also.)

MSDA newsletters are sent out approximately monthly to over 600 subscribers on our e-mail list. We invite you to sign up below. If you have an event or announcement that you would like to include in the newsletter and/or on our calendar page, please email Secretary@mdsportingdog.org .

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    Interests: ConformationField WorkObedience/Rally

    By signing up for our updates, you agree to receive occasional e-mails from us regarding events, meetings, and other MSDA news. Your dog breeds and interests determine which e-mails are sent to you. We do not share our "opt-in" e-mail list with other organizations.

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    Learn more about us here.

    If you are interested in joining MSDA, you can learn more about membership and fill out an on-line application at https://mdsportingdog.org/join/. Or, email Secretary@mdsportingdog.org for information and a membership application as a PDF. Attendance at an MSDA meeting or event generally is required before joining. All members are asked to volunteer at a club event at least once per year.

    Legislative Issues Discussion Group

    MSDA has started an e-mail based discussion group using Groups.io. The purpose of the group is to share information, on a timely basis, about local and federal legislation and other regulations directly affecting dogs, especially sporting dogs, and their owners and breeders.

    MSDA’s Legislative Issues Advisor is Darin Cox. You may contact him directly via cox@mdsportingdog.org , but really, if you have something to say, you should join the group!

    Or visit the group’s home page at https://groups.io/g/MSDALegislativeIssues

    To join the discussion, if you’re new to groups.io, you will need to provide your email address, create a password, and respond to a confirmation email sent to you.

    Opinions expressed in this group are those of the individual participants and not of MSDA as an organization.

    This is a “private” group. Messages posted to the group will not be publicly available at groups.io. So, the group will not be listed in the public directory of groups on Groups.io, and the message archive will be viewable only by group members. Also, message content will not be discoverable by web search engines. However, messages will be shared with other group participants and MSDA cannot control what anyone does with the content that lands in their own email inbox.

    Currently, you do not need to be an MSDA member to join this group. However, the group’s size is limited to 100 participants. If it begins to fill up, we may give priority to club members.

    Choosing and Using a Dog Whistle

    At MSDA, we often receive inquiries about whether or not a whistle has to be used in training, which whistle is best for training, and do different sporting dog breeds need different whistles?

    In answering these questions, this article assumes:

    • That the reader has already decided to use a whistle in field training, hunting, hunt tests and/or field trials, and they need to make a preliminary decision about which whistle to use.
    • That the reader will not use a whistle as a command or while handling until after the dog has already learned that command without a whistle.

    A sporting dog’s ability to hear
    There is a hearing difference among dog breeds – those with floppy ears covered with hair won’t be able to hear as well as those with erect ears. But there is no material difference in the hearing between any of the sporting dog breeds.

    Humans can hear a frequency range between 20 and 20,000 Hz; dogs can hear 40 to 60,000 Hz. The smaller the number the lower the sound; the higher the number the higher the pitch. This explains why a dog can hear a silent whistle, which emits a sound above 20,000 Hz, yet the sound is inaudible to most humans.

    People need to train their dogs before incorporating a whistle
    There are many dog owners who have exceedingly high expectations of a dog whistle. A toot on a whistle has no inbred meaning for a dog. A dog may be interested the first few times he hears a whistle’s distinct and/or unusual sound. The dog may even approach you to investigate, but the effect is typically temporary. Over time, the dog will lose interest in the whistle unless he begins to associate the sound with something that he has been already taught to do.

    Do you need a whistle to train a sporting dog?
    Strictly speaking, the answer is “no”. You can teach any dog a command with voice alone. Once a command is learned, you can add hand signals to help a dog understand the command at a distance. But, out in the field, a dog may not be able to hear your voice or see your hand signal. During hunting, a hunt test or a field trail, using a whistle will be appreciated by fellow hunters, handlers and judges, and is much more dignified than yelling at your dog from the top of your lungs.

    A whistle for sporting dog training is helpful for three primary reasons.

    • A whistle is easier to hear – the human voice does not carry as effectively as a whistle over distance, especially on a windy day.
    • A whistle is clear and unambiguous – the human voice is variable in pitch and easily distorted by environmental factors. A good quality whistle will not alter in pitch when you are angry or tired.
    • A whistle is less disturbing to most wildlife – the human voice is very disturbing to wild game, and sporting dog work should be carried out with a quiet hunt whenever possible.

    A whistle is not always the answer in every situation. Sometimes, you may want to work a dog in almost complete silence; for example, in close quarters a hand signal, or whisper voice, may be more appropriate.

    In practice, most sporting dog handlers should first teach voice commands and then add whistles and hand signals as training progresses and the dog has already learned the voice command.

    Choosing a whistle
    A whistle choice often comes down to the handler’s preference as the specific pitch doesn’t make any difference to the dog. Once you have bought your first whistle, you are likely to use that whistle “type” for the rest of your life. However, no two dogs are exactly alike which can make it more difficult to choose the perfect whistle from the beginning.

    Most people have to experiment to see which whistle is just right. Some handlers will buy a half-dozen or more of the same whistles at a time to test each one for the exact sound they want. Other handlers, even if they have been around for a long time may switch whistle preference with some regularity.

    Whistles for sporting dogs
    The breed of sporting dog and the type of training can impact which whistle you may choose. Spaniels tend to work closely and you may not need to use a whistle with a large sound radius even if cover is thick. A pointer will spend a lot of their time air scenting at a distance, but once on game, they will get into the undergrowth; you may benefit from a whistle which can cut through thick groundcover at a distance. And, retrievers work over long distances so you need a loud whistle for giving instruction and a reliable recall.

    Additionally, if you have a retriever that runs in retriever hunt tests as well as spaniel hunt tests, or a spaniel or a pointer that runs in retriever hunt tests as well as spaniel or pointer tests, it’s nearly impossible to pick one whistle that works well in two different test types. Just because a dog has learned to recall on three toots on one type whistle, does not mean they will recall well with three toots on a different whistle type. There are some combination dog whistles (aka dual-tone whistles), but they still yield different tones on different frequencies as if you were using two different whistles.

    Many of the dog whistles have a “pea,” a small cork ball inside the whistle shell. A pea allows you to “trill” the whistle and make different combinations of sounds. However, the pea in a whistle can freeze in cold weather from your saliva. For cold weather training and other reasons, many handlers use a pealess whistle which are also better at making quick blasts. And a metal whistle that works well in most seasons, can freeze to your lip in below freezing temperatures.

    Making the final decision
    Even though some whistles are better suited for different situations, in the end, it’s your choice. No matter what whistle you choose, to get the most out of it you must know how to blow it and be consistent with your tones.

    If you’re interested in learning more about choosing and using a whistle, the following links may be of interest to you:

    MSDA Stewarding Seminar August 2019

    Saturday, August 17th
    1:30 – 4:30 pm

    North Laurel Community Center
    Laurel, MD 20723

    This Saturday afternoon seminar covered stewarding for AKC conformation and obedience events.

    The day focused on events and procedures for Maryland Sporting Dog Association’s “Spring Event”, which is held the first weekend of March each year at Howard County Fairgrounds. The spring weekend includes two days of conformation judging for AKC Sporting Group breeds. These events are two of the five biggest sporting dog conformation shows in the U.S. and attract well over 500 entrants each day. We also have three days of obedience and rally trials that are open to all breeds, and these draw another 100-150+ entries each day. Managing all of this requires an enormous volunteer effort, and stewards play a key role.

    During the seminar, we reviewed what you need to know to confidently fulfill a stewarding role at MSDA’s Spring Event, especially stewarding procedures from how to greet your judge in the morning to how to keep all your notations organized in your steward’s book. There were presentations, Q&A, discussions, plenty of real-life examples, amusing stories, and demonstrations. Seminar materials were provided to each attendee.

    Presenters:

    • Gregg Kantak: Gregg, who chaired this seminar, is an AKC conformation judge, breeder, owner and handler. For more than ten years, Gregg has served as Chief Steward for the MSDA conformation events.
    • Erv Lhotka: Erv is an AKC obedience judge, breeder, owner and handler of Labrador Retrievers with both conformation and obedience titles. Erv has served at MSDA’s Spring Event in both conformation and obedience stewarding roles.
    • Richard Todd Jackson: Richard is an AKC conformation judge, breeder, owner and handler. Since 2017, Richard has been the Show Chair for MSDA’s Spring Event.

    A Dog Show Event’s Ambassador – The Steward

    by Gregg G. Kantak

    Perhaps like many of you, my first experience with showing dogs was in field tests.  My Silver Standard Poodles, all corded, were waiting for the judge to begin the water fowl retrieval tests and I would happily let them off-leash to dive into the lake or marsh and bring back the “quarry.”  Assisting the judge was a “runner” who took the Judge’s scorecard back to a desk for tabulation.  Little did I know, that “runner” was the Judge’s steward.  Later, when my Basset Hounds experienced hunt trials, and the Judge would check for packing ability, their “voice” and reaction to the gun-firing, I would either be whacking the bushes or yelling “Talley Ho!” when I saw the quarry while, again, this “runner” (Steward) would return to the desk with the Judge’s scorecard.  Then came conformation….

    As you may know, in an AKC conformation show ring, the Judge actually is assessing “breeding stock.”  While all that is going on, however, the Judge requires an able assistant:  the Steward.  Since I am everything “dog-related” and enjoyed the energy of a dog show, I found stewarding a ring allowed me to participate when I was not actively showing one of my breeds.  Over the past fifteen years, I have actively stewarded AKC shows and served as Chief Steward (the ring leader) for several AKC shows, most notably for the past ten years as MSDA’s Chief Steward.

    From my many years stewarding dog shows, I have discovered that the Steward is a show’s finest “Ambassador.”  Not only must the Steward ensure the Judge and ring are running smoothly, they, unlike any other show staff, have the greatest impact on the Exhibitor’s experience.  A Steward is the first person an exhibitor meets prior to showing.  The Steward marks them as present and provides them with their armband, calls them into the ring for their breed class and ensures the Judge maintains the schedule and accurately records the wins.

    As an exhibitor, I can tell you that the most positive ring experiences have been when a Steward simply greets me, provides me with my armband, wishes me success, and eventually ushers me into the ring.  The Steward can make or break a show and their ambassadorial skills set the tone for any exhibitor’s experience during the show.

    From a Judge’s perspective, I rely on my Steward to be just that… my ambassador.  The Steward maintains the ring’s order, ensures a table or ramp is accessible, pulls the ribbons for the classes, calls in the armband numbers, announces the winning armband numbers in each class, congratulates the winners, etc.  They serve as my liaison with exhibitors, handlers and the superintendent.  So, you see, stewards are integral to the success of the show.  Whether your interest is in conformation, obedience, rally, utility, field or hunt tests, ultimately you have relied upon a steward to ensure you knew what was to come.

    I believe I join you in our love of dogs and our enjoyment at seeing them perform in any capacity.  Our sport becomes our social outlet, bonding experience and/or avocation.  Being a part of it, whether exhibiting, judging or stewarding is truly rewarding.  Stewarding, particularly, allows those who may have ended their “showing” years remain an active part of the show.  If given a choice, most of us would be spending more time with our dogs or being around dogs, and there is no better way to do that then to participate in a show, especially as a steward.

    If you have interest in pursuing stewarding or if you are considering a future judging (there is a stewarding fulfillment requirement to obtain licensure), please contact me at greggkantak@yahoo.com.  I would love to have you be an integral part of MSDA’s 2020 Show!

    Acting as a steward at a dog show or obedience and rally trials is a great way to contribute to the sport, make friends, and get the inside scoop about these dog activities. However, we find many people are reluctant to participate because they think that they don’t know enough about what is involved. MSDA is organizing an introductory seminar for conformation and obedience/rally stewarding sometime during the weekend of August 17-18 (exact date, time, and location are to be determined). Check back to this website, contact Gregg, and/or sign up for our email list to find out more.

    What Does “Unbenched” Mean?

    Um, no, that’s not what we meant.

    The MSDA dog shows are “unbenched”as are nearly all other U.S. dog shows. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show (New York City) and The National Dog Show (Philadelphia) are two benched shows. At a benched show, entered dogs are required to remain on-site throughout the show hours and be available in designated areas (“on benches”) unless they are in the show ring or taking a necessary break. Benched shows provide a great opportunity for spectators to meet and interact with many dogs and their owners.

    A Washington Post gallery of photos from the March 2017 Crufts dog show in Birmingham, England includes many photos of dogs on their “benches”. Also, a couple pictures (especially #33) of humans sharing that space.

    At unbenched shows, the dogs and owners/handlers are not required to stay once their judging is completed. However, even at an unbenched show, all the dogs don’t immediately run from the ring and head directly home. If you are interested in getting acquainted with different breeds, a dog show is a wonderful place to start. Do some breed research ahead of time, then check the published schedule for judging times for the breeds that interest you. Although owners and handlers will be busy preparing dogs for judging before their judging time, you can view the dogs in the show ring and then afterwards have a chance to ask questions and make friends with owners, handlers and the dogs themselves. Show dogs are, not surprisingly, very friendly and love attention. Similarly, owners, handlers and spectators know their breed very well and usually are happy to share their knowledge.

    Here are some resources to get you started:

    MSDA list of sporting dog breeds

    AKC information for all recognized breeds

    Search for upcoming AKC dog shows and other events