Around the World in 50 Years, Part 9


It started, as it so often does in our sport, with the British. A small number of intrepid individuals traveled from the British Isles around the world, dispensing canine wisdom at dog shows in faraway lands even in the days when any overseas trip was an adventure that took weeks, even months. We don’t have many first-hand reports from the dog world in the late 1800s and early 20th century, but some tantalizing glimpses remain from shows in different parts of Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand, even in such exotic locations as India, Africa and pre-revolutionary Russia. Since dog shows started in England, this is where most of the judges came from, and the journeys they made must have been grueling.

Today we complain about delayed flights and cramped seats, but it’s difficult to imagine the level of discomfort that travelers in those days put up with, not to mention the time involved and the very real risks that any long-distance traveling then entailed. You said goodbye to your sweetheart on the white cliffs of Dover without necessarily assuming you would ever see her again — or at least not for a very long time.

Not much is known about even the biggest names among the early international experts. There was, for instance, George Raper, known as “the first professional judge of international reputation,” who came over from Yorkshire to judge Best in Show at Westminster Kennel Club in 1904 — three years before records of any such wins are listed in the club’s own catalog. (The winner was an English Toy Spaniel, Ch. Darnall Kitty.) Mr. Raper was obviously a fearless and inveterate traveler: he was supposed to have judged in San Francisco in 1906 but was unable to do so due to that year’s devastating earthquake. Undaunted, he came back and judged the next year instead. The trip to and from England alone would have taken several weeks at that time.

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