Charles LeBoutillier, 92, pioneer dog trainer

July 15, 1996|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Charles LeBoutillier, a pioneer in the introduction of dog obedience training in the United States who became the first such trainer in Baltimore, died Tuesday at Sinai Hospital of complications from an automobile accident July 7.

He was 92 and lived in Brooklandville.

Mr. LeBoutillier, an advertising man, moved to Baltimore from New York City in 1931 to take over the advertising department of Cannon Shoe Co., from which he retired in 1969.

He despised Baltimore in those early Depression years, describing it as "the most awful place I'd ever been. Simply awful, beyond awful." He had planned to return to New York, where he had been advertising director for Bloomingdale's and Saks -- until he purchased a Doberman puppy.

It changed his life. He called the puppy Rusty and took him all over town, including the finest and the lowest Gin Belt speakeasies.

Someone advised him to get rid of the dog because Dobermans were killers.

"That's how I got interested in dog obedience," he said in a 1983 interview in The Sun. "I was obsessed with that dog and had to find a way to train him so he wouldn't become a killer. I didn't find out till later that that's all a myth. Dobermans are no more vicious than any other dog. It's all in how you handle them."

After reading books on the subject and observing a Maryland Kennel Club obedience demonstration, Mr. LeBoutillier decided in 1933 to start classes with other dog lovers who met Sunday afternoons in Druid Hill Park. They were the first dog-obedience classes taught in the Middle Atlantic states.

"In our classes, at first everybody brought a 25-foot clothesline that they dipped in shellac to make them stiff so they wouldn't tangle. That's how we kept the dogs in control. Gradually we developed the training methods that are used today, with choke collars and leashes, dumbbells and jumps," he said.

He met his wife, the former Ann Pugh, a Bryn Mawr schoolteacher, when she brought her Doberman to classes. They married in 1941. Mrs. LeBoutillier died in 1987.

Mr. LeBoutillier founded the Dog Owners Training Club of Maryland in 1936 and the Greenspring Poodle Club. He was also an American Kennel Club judge and a former vice president of the Maryland Kennel Club.

"That's how I got marooned in Baltimore. I kept getting calls from the big New York department stores to come to New York, but I couldn't do it. I was too involved with dogs," he said.

After Rusty died, he became interested in poodles, which he later bred, trained and judged.

Mr. LeBoutillier was born in Lowell, Mass., and earned his bachelor's degree in 1925 from Harvard College. He did post-graduate work at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and studied at the L'Ecole Beaux Arts in Paris.

Plans for a memorial service next month are incomplete.

He is survived by a son, Geoffrey LeBoutillier of Edmonton, Alberta; two daughters, Frances Rivoire of Glen-Ellyn, Ill., and Kate O'Neill of Pennington, N.J.; and six grandchildren.

Memorial donations may be made to the Nature Conservancy of Maryland, 2 W. Wisconsin Circle, Suite 300, Chevy Chase 20815.

Pub Date: 7/15/96

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