Early Dog Shows, Part I

The love-hate relationship that exists between the kennel clubs and large segments of the dog fancy community is certainly not new.

By | Posted: Thu Jun 23 00:00:00 PDT 2005

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Much to the committee's surprise, the registration rule was met with violent protest from a fancy that perceived it as unwarranted interference. The Birmingham club even threatened to secede from Kennel Club jurisdiction and contemplated publishing its own stud book.

The first step towards compulsory registration was the publication of a stud book cataloging all 4,027 prize winners of the previous 14 years. Compliance among exhibitors was an uphill battle. Frank Pearce, son of the famous "Idestone" (the Rev. Thomas Pearce), was appointed to compile the first list of pedigrees. This unenviable task entailed personally writing to 3,500 former exhibitors to request the particulars of their dogs. The response was underwhelming, and those who did reply often provided rather spotty recollections.

Here is a typical entry in the first stud book: "Bloodhound number 69, 'Welcome' - Owner: Mr. Jennings, sold to Napoleon, bred by Mr. Attwood of Durham, born 1858. No record of pedigree, probably Lord Bagot's blood."

Many simply ignored the rule, making their entries as they pleased, and waited for consequences that might or might not appear. The situation was not helped by the fact that the Kennel Club's own members were sometimes the most flagrant violators!

Choosing a distinctive name for each dog before it could be shown seemed simple, but putting this policy into practice met with unexpected obstacles. A large contingent of the fancy simply objected to the idea of being forced to pick one name for a dog, especially a name that might be subject to Kennel Club approval. Needless to say, many of the popular names were taken before rule I was even announced.

Saint Bernards were among the most popular breeds of the era, and the name 'Dorothy' was soon in use for that breed. Two years after official registration of the first Dorothy, Miss Carrie Dutton, niece of a Kennel Club member, requested the same name for her Saint Bernard bitch. The Kennel Club issued this registration as Dorothy II, much to the owner's dismay. Dorothy II soon became a rising star of the show world, garnering prizes at all the top events, all under the name of Dorothy.

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