The St. Paul Dog Training Club (SPDTC) was licensed and incorporated by the American Kennel Club in May 1953.
SPDTC was founded by Alward “Elkie” Johnson who trained guard dogs in the service during WWII. Al returned from the service to train the first police dogs in St. Paul, and was one of the first AKC judges in our area. He then decided to focus on training family dogs and their owners and founded St. Paul Dog Training Club along with Dr. Thomas Gehan, Dr. Edward Emerson, Carl Nordby, and Betty and Jim Sheehan.
Al was the first director of training and served the club in this capacity and as a board member for 26 years. Axel Soderberg joined Al as assistant director of training, Betty Sheehan took charge of membership, Ann Gross was treasurer and Marian O’Hara was secretary.
The club was first located in the American House in the winter, and the Lake Como Pavilion in the summer. The American house building was demolished two years later and the only place the club could find for winter training space was John Marshall Junior High. SPDTC used the hallways and classrooms for training space on Tuesday nights. This wasn’t an ideal situation and many club members helped look for a new place to call home. Eventually the club found space to rent in the Merriam Park Community Center (now called Keystone). SPDTC stayed in this building for 35 years.
SPDTC moved to several locations over the years, including Midway Arena near the fairgrounds and Pleasant Arena on St. Clair Avenue. Eventually the club decided to relocate to it’s current space below Knowlan’s Grocery Store in South St. Paul.
The space had been a bowling alley, had been vacant for many years, and was very dirty and run down. Club members volunteered their time to scrub and re-scrub, repair and paint the walls, and install the necessary fixtures for a dog training club. The new space was ready for business in April 1994.
With the dedicated help of many club members we continue to maintain and improve the club facility and have transformed it into a great training and show facility. In 2000 the club offered it’s first agility classes, and we now have agility classes three days a week. In 2005 the club embraced the new AKC sport of Rally Obedience and began offering classes in this new venue. From Al Johnson’s dream of providing obedience training for St. Paul residents, to the current SPDTC classes, trials and seminars in obedience, rally and agility, and nosework, the club continues to be a driving force in the Twin Cities dog training community.
Contents copyright 2006 St. Paul Dog Training Club, St. Paul, Minnesota