Eugene Kennel Club Celebrates 50 Continuous Years

Eugene Kennel Club Celebrates 50 Continuous Years

By: Staff  Date: 10/31/1998 Category: | Canine Issues |

An item in the August 15, 1925, Eugene Register Guard announced the organization of the Eugene Kennel Club to "sponsor a bench show in conjunction with the Lane County Fair, September 23, 24, 25." The event "will be purely a show of high class dogs" and "cash prizes and other trophies will be awarded to dogs in various classifications." Further "in order to obtain a rating for a dog show of this nature, it is necessary for the local club to obtain a license from the American Kennel Club in New York City." In this connection, Mr. Frank L. Hill (president) and John T. Snelson (secretary) were said to be leaving immediately for Portland to "confer with C.S. Whitmore, editor of Sportsman and Fancier magazine and one of the leading dog enthusiasts of the state."

Success crowned the efforts of Messrs.. Hill and Snelson. AKC approval was granted. The August 21 Register Guard announced: "The Eugene Kennel Club will be an added feature on the program of the Lane County Fair this year with one of the biggest shows in the northwest. . . . Entries are expected to reach the 300 mark or more. . . . The Lane County Fair Association will furnish all equipment and the show rooms for the show" and before-mentioned C.S. Whitmore "will be superintendent of the local show and exhibition."

Subsequent articles and photos in the Register Guard highlighted prize-winning dogs expected to be entered at the show, including a Great Dane owned by Francis X. Bushman. This famous Hollywood star of the silent screen was quoted as saying, "Three cheers and 1925 barks for Eugene's first dog show. If they don't kill me off with the Ben Hur chariot races, me and my Great Dane will be there if we have to walk it." Mr. Bushman and his Great Dane made it!

The September 25 Register Guard proclaimed "a tiny Boston Terrier, Let's Go, owned by the Playfair Kennels of Portland, Oregon, has been declared the Best Dog in the Eugene Kennel Club show over the other 200 entries in the show finals held last night." The entries didn't quite reach the projected 300 mark, but the affair was declared an "entire success."

EKC member Tom Ing has a copy of the catalog from the 1925 show. A second show was held by the Eugene Kennel Club in 1926, again in conjunction with the Lane County Fair, but I could find no reference to any further shows. The stock market crash of 1929, the Depression of the 1930s, and World War II made the sport of purebred dogs a low-priority item.


Fast forward to 1946


The Depression of the 1930s has receded into memory. World War II is over. People have money and are optimistic about the future. They are anxious to resume activities that had been put on hold and to embrace new activities. For a growing number of people, these activities included breeding and exhibiting purebred dogs.

On August 30, 1946, an article in the Register Guard invited Eugene-area dog owners interested in participating in an informal dog show and in forming a permanent organization to attend a meeting at the Lane County Fairgrounds. About 20 dog owners met. Plans were completed to hold a four-day sanctioned match in conjunction with the Lane County Fair, September 25-28. The winner of this first EKC-sponsored sanctioned match (which incidentally, was benched) was a Doberman Pinscher owned by EKC member George Carey of Eugene.

On April 3, 1947, EKC held a second sanctioned match "making the club eligible under AKC rules to give a show with Championship points this fall or winter which would attract dogs from all Northwest and Canada." This "first" EKC point show became a reality on January 18, 1948. The show was benched and held in the Armory, then located in downtown Eugene; it drew an entry of 326 dogs. Judge Helen Rosemont of San Francisco, California, chose the Kerry Blue Terrier CH Commando's Clearwood as her Best in Show winner.

The Boston Terrier that won the Non-Sporting Group that day was owned by the same Playfair Kennels in Portland, Oregon, that owned the Best in Show Boston at the first show held by the first Eugene Kennel Club!

Officers in the EKC in January 1948 were Dorothy Duree (Dalmatians), president; R.D. Swartzlender (Beagles), vice president; and Mrs. Archie Gilbert (Shetland Sheepdogs), secretary-treasurer.

My husband Robert and I were students at the University of Oregon and first-time Collie exhibitors in 1948. We helped build the benching for the January show and the club's second show in September 1948. The following note appeared in the September show catalog under the heading "Dog show information" and was dedicated to first-time spectators or exhibitors. "Bear in mind that the judge is looking for physical characteristics such as shape of head, texture of coat, general appearance, and correct gait. He is not judging the dog's cuteness or ability to do tricks."

The 1949 show was held "with the assistance of the Veterans of Foreign Wars" at the Lane County Fairgrounds, although not in conjunction with the fair. By this time, AKC no longer approved holding of point shows with other events. The 1950 show was held at MacArthur Court on the University of Oregon campus. In 1951, it returned to the fairgrounds, where it is still held today. However, by this time, the benched show was a thing of the past.

Exhibitors who showed in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s will remember the Eugene Kennel Club show was part of the Cal-Or Circuit. Held over the Labor Day holiday, the circuit started in Redding, California, and progressed up through Oregon to Klamath Fall, Medford, Eugene, and back to Roseburg. The idea was for California exhibitors to be able to hit the Roseburg show on the way home.

Two exhibitors at early EKC shows who went on to become long-time members and are remembered by most members today were Marjorie Bond and Lois Lowe. Marjorie exhibited the first of a long line of Bondale Cocker Spaniels at the first EKC sanctioned match. She and her husband were members for nearly 40 years. Lois exhibited a Bulldog at the 1951 show. She served the club as chief ring steward for many years and was an AKC judge of non-sporting breeds. Another member, Betty Johnson, is remembered for her long service as EKC show chairman.

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