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Morris & Essex – Bigger & Better

By Amy Fernandez

Bigger and better seems to be the ongoing mantra of AKC shows and it’s almost impossible to recall when entries typically hovered around 400-500. But that was the reality until the 1950s with a few notable exceptions, as Arthur Fredrick Jones explained to his Gazette readers in July 1951. “Purebred enthusiasts of Morris and Essex New Jersey rallied to the call of Mrs. Hartley Dodge to form a new club that would promote finer and possibly bigger exhibitions of dogs”

Commenting that the group was inspired by AKC ‘s pride and joy– the 1926 Sesquicentenniel International Exhibition in Philadelphia, “That show brought out 2153 dogs and the end of that year also revealed a new record of 288 shows, almost three times that of pre WWI. A quarter century later it seems difficult to believe that fanciers would be astounded by those numbers.”  That was true, primarily because of the M&E juggernaut. Jones carefully pointed out that, “M&E didn’t realize all of its dreams that first year in 1927.” Maybe not, but Mrs. Hartley Dodge played hardball.

“When Mrs. Dodge converted the polo field at Giralda into a permanent dog show site, it marked the realization of an entire new concept of outdoor exhibitions.” As Jones conceded, “That big show at Madison set a pace that other shows have tried with varying success to follow.”

By 1934, M&E had evolved into something altogether different, a fact confirmed by its record breaking entry of 2827, making it the largest American show to date. “Even the catalog was notable with cloth-bound hard covers, the first time such a thing had been done.” All that dazzling stuff was small change compared to the grandeur and record setting 4101 entry of M&E 1939. And things continued that way until the war years when most shows, including M&E,  went on hiatus.

When they resumed, M&E again set the pace. But the rest of the dog world was rapidly catching up. AKC racked up 634 shows in 1950. Virtually none approached those M&E numbers but that encouraging growth heralded the future of the sport. Economic and social factors sent America’s dog world on a new competitive trajectory and those modern day show records began falling into place.

Among the first legendary winners to accumulate that fairly common record of 100 BIS was the 1951 M&E BIS winner Ch. Rock Falls Colonel. Whelped May 22, 1948 and breeder/owner/handled by Mr. and Mrs. William T. Holt, the announcement of their 100 Best objective qualified as mainstream news back then.

Throughout his campaign, The Colonel’s main rival was Ch. Bang Away of Sirrah Crest. They battled it out for five years. Both ultimately achieved that coveted 100 BIS record, and as we know, Bang Away’s career triumphs ultimately outshined The Colonel’s. However, that day back in May 1951 The Colonel left Bang Away in the dust at M&E.

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Posted by on Oct 3 2015. Filed under Current Articles, Dog Show History, Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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  • February 2019