Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Woodmere Kennel Club

The February 10th opening of the The Westminster Kennel Club 138th Annual Dog Show at Madison Square Garden brings to mind a little-known treasure of early 20th-century Woodmere -- The Woodmere Kennel Club.

The inhabitants of the Branch communities, home to the Rockaway Hunting Club since 1878, were avid canophiles -- much  like their modern counterparts.  Besides having family pets, many had their own kennels, as well as private stables, in what was then a very rural area.  Long Island dog enthusiasts formed local kennel clubs based on breed or locale and the Woodmere Kennel Club was one of the early clubs in the area.

The Woodmere Club had a small opening show on a rainy May 18th of 1913, but on June 28 of that year, a second show was held on the grounds adjoining the Broadway Central Hotel on Broadway in Woodmere (Rockaway News, July 2, 1913, p. 1). The two-hour long event was held in a tent with two rings.  Best in show was one by Sun of Llenrud, a nineteen-month old British-bred Pekingese owned by Mrs. A. McClure Halley of New York.

A Rockaway News article from June 21, 1913 lists prizes offered for the second event, including:

Bull Terriers:
Mr. Wex Jones offers $2.50 in gold for best brace of Bull Terriers.
Dr. A.C. Daniels offers twelve pounds Puppy Bread for the best puppy dog and twelve pounds for the best bitch.
Bulldogs:Mr. P. Seixas offers Set of Cuff Buttons for best Miniature Bulldog
Dr. A.C. Daniels offers a Mark Cross Safety Razer [sic] for best American bred dog or bitch.

Other classes included Irish Terriers, French Poodles, English Toy Spaniels, Children Classes, Scottish Terriers, Great Danes, Setters, Maltese Terriers, Pekingese Spaniels, Dachshunde, Collies, Toy Poodles.
To be shown by a "lady", the woman must be the dog's owner.

Within a few years, the shows had outgrown the Broadway Central Hotel.  In 1915, shows were held in the ballroom of the Nassau Hotel in Long Beach, the Hoffman House and the Hotel Gregorian (42 West 35th Street) in Manhattan.  The Club held shows at the Hotel Gregorian for many years.

On October 21, 1914, an unusual event was held at the Hotel Gregorian.  Billed as "Dogs in Toyland," the Woodmere Kennel Club held a special show for miniature breeds.  It seems that at a prior show there were issues between on of Charles Ludwig's Great Danes and a Pekingese. So large dogs were not invited to the next event.

In December, James R. Meade, a breeder from Brooklyn, resigned from the presidency of the club, which he had held for three years.    Over 100 members attended his farewell meeting, at which speeches were made and a silver loving cup was presented to Mr. Meade (Brooklyn Daily Eagle, December 22, 1914, p. 2)   Meade, who raised Boston Terriers and Pekingese, resigned his position so that he could devote time to showing his dogs.  One year later, tragedy hit when his entire kennel of Pekingese was lost to an unnamed epidemic.

The Club's new officers of 1914 were overwhelmingly women.  Mrs. M. C. McGlone was elected president; Mrs. J.L. Conklin, Mrs. H. Taylor and Mrs. E. Allis Cox, Vice Presidents;  Mrs. L. Shillings, Treasurer; George Heiline, Secretary.

A 1915 article in The New York Sun (June 27, 1915, p. 16) praises the Club for its activities in bring new breeders and amateurs into the world of dog fancying.  184 entries, a very large number for the time, were judged at one evening show.  In 1915, active members of the Club were working towards running dog shows under the American Kennel Club rules, and granting championship points through that organization.

In the 1930s and 40's local dogs such as the collies of Noranda Kennels, owned by Mrs. and Mrs. William H. Long Jr. of Hewlett Harbor (New York Times, February 2, 1941, p. S6; New York Herald Tribune, February 21, 1937, p.B9A), Hi-Wood Mike, a black Labrador Retriever owned by Mrs. John S. Williams of Hewlett (The New York Times, November 24, 1941, p. 23.) appear as winners of major shows throughout the nation. By that time, the Woodmere Kennel Club seems to have faded into oblivion.  As the "horsey set" moved to the North Shore of Long Island and the residential neighborhoods of the Five Towns no longer welcomed dog kennels, breeders moved farther out on the Island and organizations like the Long Island Kennel Club in Oyster Bay took in the members of many local clubs.

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