from the AKC Gazette August 1, 1935,
Irish Wolfhounds Column – pp 31-32
Mr. Starbuck has asked me to be guest conductor for this month, and it seems as good a time as any to tell about The Irish Wolfhound Association of New England which was formed, last fall, since there are other sections of the country where similar organizations could be formed with benefit. In and about Boston there are several enthusiastic wolfhound owners and breeders who exhibit at almost every New England show.
About a year ago, a general discussion took place in which it was agreed that something should be done to call the breed to the attention of show-giving clubs so that more consistently expert judges and a higher level of prizes or trophies might be awarded.
The expenses of transporting and showing the hounds are not inconsiderable, and when we wished them to be represented at every New England show it often became a considerable financial drain. Moreover, even thought the financial angle were unimportant with some, we acknowledged that some sort of tangible prizes for those owners who could not expect consistently to go to the top were often of a psychological value in keeping up interest in showing.
We felt that though shows should make it a practice to encourage the less numerous but spectacular breeds by not hoping to make such a profit on their entries as on the most popular, that we could not honestly ask them to offer such a level of prizes as would consistently lose them money on our entries, and, with the British system of breed club guarantees in mind, we decided to form an Association which would pay all its dues in supporting various shows by the offer of extra prizes.
Our dues were set at $5 a year for associate members, $10 for active membership with a vote, and $15 for that rare bird the patron. A president, secretary, treasurer were elected, and an executive committee of five which would have charge of steering the policies and was distributed in membership through the various states so that we would have firsthand advice on all New England shows. The president of the Irish Wolfhound Club of America very kindly accepted the position as our honorary president, and the Association became an active member in the parent club.
From the start, we were determined that the Association should never become a schismatic body but one within the fold of the parent club and working for the same ends, but in a more concentrated territory and with weapons that could not be used by the parent club. It was obvious from the start that the Association could not hope to support every New England show with outright prizes for the first few years at least, and consequently two yearly specials were contrived and approved by the A.K.C. for offer at every show. The first was a series of outright prizes for an Irish wolfhound placing in the variety group, and ran from $10 for first place to $2 for fourth.
An exhibitor, therefore, could take his hounds to any show, and if one were sufficiently high in quality to take a place of honor in the group, he would be rewarded.
For the second special, a member offered a cup to be awarded to the hound placed winners the greatest number of times at New England shows.
At first various suggestions for this trophy were analyzed, including wins on the basis of championship points, etc., but it was finally decided that the purpose of all Association specials was to encourage the exhibition of the breed, and an owner was performing just as valuable a service by taking the trouble to show, even though he were the only exhibitor, as he did if he won over a large entry, and that points gained by one big win would nullify, on occasion, three to five or more shows where the competition was less keen, but where the owner may have made greater sacrifices in order to have the breed represented. We selected the award of winners because we did not want any one, perhaps champion dogs to gain the trophy by best of breed wins, which were a sufficient incentive in themselves.
With these yearly specials decided on, we took up the problem of the best way to support certain selected individual shows in the various states, and decided that the Association’s awards would in general be more valuable if placed in the classes. And since the bane of showing the hounds at the average-sized show is lack of competition in the classes, that we would waive the competition clause.
At first, we worked out an elaborate scheme by which the Association would offer so many prizes in the classes if the show would offer such and such amounts for winners, reserve winners, and best of breed, depending on a graduated scale for the number of entries. This was quickly abandoned, however, as excessively complicated and lengthy, and the decision made to treat each show as an individual case. We have always gone on the theory that the show should offers its money, when we take care of the classes, in as wide a manner as possible so that its benefits will be shared by several exhibitors instead of lumping everything for best of breed. Consequently, we encourage awards for winners, reserve winners, best of winners, and best of breed.
The half dozen or so shows we thought we would be able to support were selected, and a letter sent to each secretary announcing the formation of the Association, the fact that it wished to offer prizes at the show, and to that end would be glad to hear the name of the judge and the prizes for the breed upon which the show had decided so there would be no duplication.
We also enclosed the latest approved list of judges of the parent club. In almost every case, the show met us more than half-way, asked our advice, and by offering prizes in the classes, we were able to divert the show’s prizes to the upper regions and on a more generous basis since there was no uncertainty, as with class prizes, on the amount the show would have to pay out.
We feel we were able to perform this for two reasons. First, although the Association was sectional in its interests, the thing paramount in our minds was to enlarge the entries of wolfhounds, and to that end we would have to encourage the exhibition of hounds from outside our territory. Therefore, we made all our prizes, both yearly and outright, open to all exhibitors whether members or not. The show could therefore know that our prizes would not be restricted to members, and that any exhibitor at its fixture would win our prizes as though they had been offered by the show itself.
Secondly, we very firmly refused to endeavor to dictate the judge to the shows. We pointed out that the judges on the approved list would naturally be more satisfactory, but that our specials would be offered irrespective of that matter unless it was our opinion that the judge was incompetent.
We urged the show to send us the list of its judges licensed for the breed, and provided all these were considered even mildly competent, the show could choose whichever it wished, and our specials would be offered. Only in case the show definitely requested our advice on our choice for judge, was there an attempt made by the Association at the selection of one judge over another. Most shows attempted to secure judges from the National approved list.
As I have said, the class prizes offered by the Association were based on the idea that competition should be encouraged within the classes but that lack of competition should not penalize a winning exhibitor. Therefore, a schedule was laid down as follows for a show with a $3 entry fee, parts of this schedule being correspondingly lowered for lower entry fee. In a class of one, $1 for first. In a class of two, $2 for first; and $1 for second. In a class of three, $3 for first; $2 for second. In certain cases when the shows themselves were generous with prizes in the classes and waived the competition clause, the Association offered second and third prize money in the classes, and devoted part of its funds to outright prizes for reserve winners, etc., wherever it felt gaps in the show’s own prizes could be filled in.
The Association, in this its first year, is still in an experimental state. For some time to come its treasury will probably remain lean and its work somewhat circumscribed. But with the increasing ownership of hounds in New England and the increasing interest of outside exhibitors in showing in New England, we hope to secure more memberships from both classes. So far the Association has offered only prize money, as the simplest form, and has made arrangements with each show so that it was paid in the ring. Next year, plans are being discussed for the occasional offer of small silver trophies which will be suitable for collection as a set. This year, also, some members have offered silver trophies at individual shows.
This year has been a hard one for the entries of the breed in New England, as many previously showable hounds have died or been disabled. But there is a large quantity of young stock coming along for show next year, outside exhibitors have increased appreciably, and we feel that every exhibitor has felt himself more solidly rewarded for his showing, and is now conscious that shows and the public are taking a greater interest in a vigorously supported breed, which is no longer the forgotten dog in the premium lists.
Owing to the close cooperation of the Association with shows and its conciliatory attitude, there has been a marked increase in the quality of judges chosen to officiate, and it is not too much to say that showing the Irish wolfhound, owing to the existence of the Association, has been encouraged and made an even more pleasurable sport in New England.
--- Fredson Thayer Bowers, 110 Forest Avenue, West Newton, Massachusetts.