Tail wagging and body wiggling with excitement, eight-year-old Lindy rolls in the grass at the Saanich Fairgrounds while her owner, Rod Deacon, gives her a well-deserved belly rub.
“It really takes you out of yourself, working with other people and the dogs,” he says as he ruffles her fur. Deacon is the president of the North Saanich Dog Obedience Training Club (NOSA), the only not-for-profit dog training organization on the Peninsula, and one of six recipients of this year’s Hearts of the Community Volunteer Awards.
“It’s about doing things for other people,” he continues.
Training dogs to be well-behaved “canine citizens,” as Deacon calls them, has innumerable benefits, from integrating them successfully into a family, to increasing socialization between community members and just representing ‘dogdom’ well.
“A well-behaved dog is an asset in the community,” he says. “And we see dogs as being part of the community.”
Despite being president, Deacon is quick to downplay his own involvement in the club.
“I’ve only been here 10 or 12 years,” he says. “Some of our trainers have been here 20, 25 years or more.”
“Every one of our trainers is a volunteer,” he adds.
Classes run from the very basic of obedience commands for puppies, to competition classes, to rally obedience and canine good neighbour programs. But “training people to train their dogs” is only part of the equation.
Established in 1954, NOSA has become a fixture in the community, supporting many animal-related organizations over the years, including the SPCA, B.C. Guide Dog Services, Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind, Pacific Assistance Dogs Society and the Greater Victoria Animal Crusaders.
Recently, the club raised enough funds to purchase and donate specialized pet oxygen resuscitation masks for each of the Saanich Peninsula fire departments, allowing firefighters to more effectively treat pets of all sizes in cases of smoke or toxic fume inhalation.
Most notably on a local front, the club has partnered with the Sidney Lions Food Bank for the last 16 years, donating the proceeds from their annual Christmas dinner charity auction, and raising over $17,000 in total to support families in need.
Deacon became involved with NOSA when he was looking for a basic obedience class, and says the club is a great place to find new two-legged friends too.
Dogs offer companionship and a safe listening ear, he says, and it’s important that they’re treated with respect and love during training, something the club is committed to.
For their dedication to fostering good “canine citizens” to their ceaseless contributions to the Peninsula, “It’s nice (for the club) to be recognized for being part of the community,” says Deacon.