Geelong Branch History
The Geelong Branch of the GSDCV was established in July 1986 in response to the growing popularity of German Shepherd Dogs as family pets.
The 25 founding members first trained at Elcho Park soccer grounds before gaining permission from the then Shire of Corio to train at the Vines Road Community Centre in North Geelong. Within a year, the membership had risen to 104. With the growth of numbers and acquisition of training equipment, the need to find larger, more appropriate grounds began. This was achieved in 1988, when the Branch was able to share the dog grounds at Elcho Park with the Barwon Canine Club. This became the Geelong Branch’s permanent grounds.
After three years of negotiations and fundraising, a clubhouse was built and opened in June 1991. Shortly afterwards, a verandah was added. Inside, a refrigerator, food warmers and microwave were acquired and meetings, lectures and social events kept members informed and entertained. A small children’s playground was also added.
By the end of the decade, the Barwon Canine Club had relocated to Werribee, forming the Werribee-Barwon Canine Club, leaving the Geelong Branch with sole tenancy of the Elcho Park dog grounds. In recent years, a puppy ring was added, allowing puppies to train and run freely in a safe environment separated from the bigger dogs.
While membership numbers are not as strong as they had been in 1987, a renewed interest in larger dogs, such as the German Shepherd Dog, has seen numbers beginning to grow again and more people enjoying each other’s companionship on the grounds as they laugh or groan about their dogs’ antics.
Janet Henley and Dogs Memorial Award
As is the case with all clubs based on the hard work of volunteers, the Geelong Branch has and continues to exist through the commitment of numerous GSD lovers on and off the committee. In recent history, however, one person has been honoured with an award dedicated to her memory and those of her dogs.
Janet Henley had been Secretary of the Geelong Branch from 1999-2004 and was elected Branch Manager in 2006. Janet was in her second year as Branch Manager when, returning from a Branch Managers’ meeting in Melbourne around midnight she was met with the sight of police cars on the Melbourne road not far from her property.
While she had been attending the meeting, her two beloved GSDs, Bambi and Harley, had escaped from their enclosure and run onto the road and into oncoming traffic. Bambi died instantly while Harley was rushed to the nearest vet but died not long afterwards.
Two weeks after the tragedy, Janet was admitted into hospital for a routine sinus operation. She was preparing to go home when she had a sudden heart attack and passed away.
All members of the Geelong Branch were devastated by the loss of three of its well-known and much-liked personalities. In their memory, the Janet Henley and Dogs Memorial Award was introduced and awarded to long-serving members who had made valuable contributions to the Branch.
The early history of the Geelong Branch has been taken from A contemporary history of the Geelong Branch of the GSDCV Inc(1994) by Peter Lea-Wood.