In the 1930s and 1940s the Walla Walla Kennel Club, founded by the late Ward Gardner (Walla Walla business man and renowned breeder of Irish Setters) was privately owned by Ward and a Mrs. Frances Holland of Portland, Oregon. Ward and Mrs. Holland held dog shows as a business enterprise. Although the AKC no longer sanctions the formation of privately owned kennel clubs, there were many such across the country at that time and a few still exsist today. During World War II, Ward and Mrs. Holland put on no shows but they kept the dues current with the AKC.
During the war years (1941-1954) many people moved from across the country to Eastern Washington to work at Hanford and related government projects in the Tri-City area of Richland, Pasco and Kennewick. Among these were dog fanciers who brought their dogs with them. When the war ended, kennel clubs were formed in Yakima and in the Tri-Cities for the purpose of promoting pure-bred dogs and holding dog shows. The Richland Kennel Club and the Yakima Kennel Club held their first "point" shows May 1 and 2, respectively, in 1948.
The first meeting of a group of dog fanciers interested in holding dog shows again in the Walla Walla area was held in the YMCA in the late fall of 1951. My husband, Robert A. (Al) Still, and I attended this meeting. (We subsequently became Charter Members of the re-organized Walla Walla Kennel Club). The minutes of this first meeting were taken by Janet Rowlen.
The Walla Walla Kennel Club was re-organized as a member club. As we were anxious to begin holding shows, the members accessed themselves $500.00 (the equivalent of about $5,000.00 today) to purchase the franchise to hold dog shows under AKC rules from Ward Gardner and Frances Holland. Ward Gardner was elected to represent us as our AKC delegate.
To the best of my memory, the following persons (listed alphabetically) were either present at that first meeting and/or were Charter Members, or were at least very early members of the re-organized WWKC:
Gladys Appling - Walla Walla. She had helped with the WWKC shows before the war.
Margaret Bigler - Walla Walla. Margaret owned and operated a boarding kennel and bred mostly sporting and toy breeds. Margaret and Gladys Appling (above) were two who spearheaded the resurgence of the WWKC. Margaret was a long-time friend of Ward Gardner and boarded the last of his Irish Setters. One elderly bitch remained. Ward bred her and she whelped a single male puppy, registered as CROSS HAVEN THE LONE EAGLE, who unfortunately was a monorchid. (Such are the breaks of the dog game.)
Robert and Eve Chandler - Walla Walla. The Chandlers had a Labrador Retriever but were soon breeding/exhibiting German Shorthair Pointers. Later they owned and operated a boarding kennel and added Dachshunds. Bob served several times as President of the WWKC and Eve as Treasurer. Bob was also one of the early instructors for the obedience training classes sponsored by the WWKC. Eve served as Publicity Chairman for many years -- getting the cooperation of the Walla Walla Union Bulletin for a feature page of photos and write-up before our annual show. She was also in charge of catalog advertising for many years and was able to get support of many local business people.
Stan and Roberta ("Scottie") Hannant - College Place. Collies.
Roy and Ruth Hoover - Milton-Freewater, Oregon. Pugs.
Margaret Klingbeil - Walla Walla. Chihuahuas. Margaret trained at one of the first obedience classes put on by the WWKC and her interest grew from there. She now lives in Salem, Oregon and still breeds and exhibits.
Ken and Lois Maynard - Walla Walla. Boxers. (Lois and I were delegated by the club to approach Ward Gardner with the request to purchase the franchise.)
Richard and Marilyn Neher - Walla Walla. Basset Hounds.
Ken and Janet Rowlen - Walla Walla. German Shorthaird Pointers. Janet was elected the first Secretary of the re-organized WWKC. She also designed and drew the club logo which is still in use today. Ken was one of the first instructors at obedience training classes sponsored by the WWKC.
Robert (Al) and Lorraine Still - Milton-Freewater, Oregon. Collies. In the early 1960s we added "Shelties." Together with Ken Rowlen and Bob Chandler, I was one of the first instructors for WWKC obedience classes. Al made the wooden ring placement and Group and Best In Show standards for the club, and I painted, lettered and numbered them. These standards were still in use by the club (although I am sure they were re-painted many times) at least up until a few years ago. And maybe they still are! Al also built the first obedience jumps used by the club at shows/training classes. We both held positions on the Board of Directors at one time or another, and I was program chairman many times. We still breed Shelties and I am licensed by the AKC to judge Collies, Shelties, and Jr. Showmanship. We have resided in the Eugene area of the Willamette Valley of Oregon since the summer of 1965.
San and Harriet Sherman - Walla Walla. Basenjis.
Margaret Tolen (sp?) - College Place. Weimaraners. Margaret's husband was also a member, but his name escapes me.
Martha van Donge - Walla Walla. Cocker Spaniels
Ira and Mary Williams - Walla Walla. English Setters. Ira served as President one or more times.
I know there were others who have slipped my mind. I hope someone will come forward to fill in the blanks. One such was a gentleman who had racing sled dogs. Not only was he an early member, but he served as President at least once. At one of our very early shows he was to give a demonstration with his sled dogs. However, we failed (in our innocence) to get permission from the AKC to hold this event. Dogs, owner and sled were on the grounds ready to go but the then AKC "Rep.", Major Godsol, would not allow us to present them. To say the gentleman was miffed is an under statement!
For our second show (1953) we tied in with the Richland and Yakima clubs to form the three-show circuit that continues to this day. WWKC was on Friday, May 1, and Richland and Yakima on Saturday and Sunday. Our show was held in one of the hangers at the Walla Walla airport. This was also a benched show. Our last such. The trend was away from benched shows all over the country. The benching was just too costly to build, maintain, and store. Besides, the exhibitors preferred the unbenched shows.
I ring stewarded (for the very first time) at this show under one of the all-time great judges, the late Percy Roberts. Mr. Roberts awarded Best In Show to the imported English Bulldog, JUENTER'S ACE. The bulldog had just come to America as an undefeated British champion. He finished his American Championship undefeated with three straight Best In Show wins from the classes (one of these being his win at WWKC) and his Canadian title undefeated with four Best In Show wins from the classes. I remember the bulldog "pooped" on the Best In Show standard (which Al and I had spent so much work making and painting) as Mr. Roberts awarded the trophy!
Obedience was an important part of the re-organized WWKC and the club sponsored training classes early on. Ken Rowlen and I taught the first classes. We were by no means professional trainers! I had obedience trained my Collie on my own and put a C.D. title on her without benefit of classroom instruction - and Ken's qualifications were about as impressive! But we were the most "experienced" trainers available. So, trainers we were! The Richland Kennel Club had Blanche Saunders, one of the founders of the obedience movement in the US, for a clinic and she came over and gave us a training session at one of our classes. We welcomed the opportunity to watch a real training pro in action. There were several unruly dogs in our class. One of them a large Boxer whose owner was not only quite petite but who persisted in trying to train wearing high heeled shoes. The Boxer was winning the contest! Ken and I had suggested that the lady would have better control if she wore lower heels, but we were reluctant to press the issue. This was our home town and we didn't want to ruffle any feathers. Miss Saunders had no such compunctions. She told the lady in no uncertain terms to get into sensible shoes and she took the Boxer and demonstrated what she meant by control with a few well-timed corrections with his leash. She made a believer out of that Boxer in short order!
My memory bogs down as to whether we were required to hold at least one sanctioned match before holding our first point show. It seems to me that because Ward and Mrs. Holland had kept the dues current with the AKC that we did not. However, we were required to hold one (maybe two) sanctioned matches offering obedience before we could schedule obedience competition at our shows. At one of these matches (August 1953) Al and I entered our Collie (CH) ROBROVIN AUTUMNTINT, C.D. in the conformation classes and she was Best In Match. The judge was Major A.H.J. Wrigglesworth. Major Wrigglesworth had trained dogs for police work and for war-time duty during World War II and currently was an obedience instructor in the Portland area. (He was also the Gaines dog food company representative in the Northwest). We still have the hammered aluminum casserole carrier (donated by Mr and Mrs. Carl Gregory) which AUTUMNTINT won. (Another of our Collies, ROBROVIN CHATTERBOX, who was a daughter of AUTUMNTINT, won top honors at another WWKC match in September of 1958. The judge was Bob Hastings, who is still a well-respected professional handler here in the Northwest.)
In 1954 the show moved back to the fairgrounds. This show, and for several years after, was held on the grassy area then in front of the Pavillion. Later shows were held in various other buildings and outdoor areas on the fairgrounds. One year Al was Chief Ring Steward. This was when the AKC still allowed exhibitors to be paged to their classes by calling arm band numbers over the P.A. system. The P.A. system went out of order early in the day and Al ran his legs off the rest of the show acting as "runner" between the handlers area and the rings.
Our show superintendent was the late Helen Maring from Portland, Oregon. However, one year we decided to "save money" and do it ourselves. As I recall, Janet Rowlen acted as our show secretary and the entries were sent to her. We hired the job printing department of the Walla Walla Union Bulletin to print the catalog. The Bulletin had never printed a dog show catalog and didn't know what they were getting themselves in for with several hundred registration names and numbers, etc. to set correctly. At that time there wasn't much more than about a week between the time entries closed and the catalog had to be printed and ready for the day of the show. The Bulletin got the job done in time - but the club was fined by AKC for printing errors. We said, "never again." (And so did the Bulletin!) We went back to Helen Maring and her printer who were familiar with dog shows
Probably the most memorable show for Al and me was April 25, 1958. Our homebred Collie, AM-CAN CH. ROBROVIN CARMEN JONES, daughter of our before-mentioned (CH) ROBROVIN AUTUMNTINT, C.D., won the Working Group. (This was before the Herding Group was formed, and Collies were part of the huge Working Group.) The judge was the late Louis Murr (one of the all-time great judges) and CARMEN was handled by yours truely. It was then nip-and-tuck right down to the wire for Best In Show between CARMEN and the multi-Best In Show winning Pomeranian, AM-CAN CH RIDER'S SPARKLIN' GOLD NUGGET, owned by Mrs. Stephen Doheny III and handled by the top West Coast handler of the day, Porter Washington. The show was held outdoors and it had been cold and blustery all day. As was then the custom, the Groups were held in the evening. Just as Judge Lewis Spence pointed to the Pomeranian, the full fury of the storm hit - with gale force winds, rain and sleet all coming at once. You never saw a show grounds clear so fast in your life!
As an aside, we missed a second shot for Best In Show that same weekend. Following the WWKC show, Judge Louis Murr rode to Richland with show superintendent, Helen Maring. At Richland the next day, Helen told me that all Mr. Murr had talked about on the ride over was the gorgeous Collie bitch he had given the Group to. At Yakima on Sunday, Mr. Murr was judging the breed (which CARMEN won) and then, if she she won the Group, she would go under Mr Murr for practically a sure-shot for Best In Show. As the saying goes, "there's many a slip _____." It was not to be. CARMEN placed only third in the Group so did not make it to compete for Best In Show. It was left for another of our dogs, our 4th generation homebred Sheltie, AM-CAN CH. ROBROVIN JOHNNY APPLESEED, also handled by me, to get Best In Show for us at Olympia Dog Fanciers, October 16, 1977.
I have mentioned that it was customary for the Group and Best In Show judging to be in the evening. A break of several hours was taken between the completion of the class judging in the afternoon and resumption of judging after dinner. The most glamorous setting for the Group and Best In Show judging on the circuit was at Richland. For many years during the 1950s, Richland held their show on the grounds of the Desert Inn Hotel in the heart of the city. The Groups were held under lights on the lawn immediately outside the hotel dining room. Spectators could eat dinner and watch the judging at the same time. And the judging was a gala affair - with the judges and those presenting the trophies in evening attire. On several less glamorous occasions, sand storms (for which the Tri-City area is famous - or infamous!) drove the Group judging indoors - in the dining room itself!
At Walla Walla we had our bouts with the weather too. At one show in the early 1960s a tornado threatened the area and the Civil Defense ordered the judging stopped and evacuated the building. (Schools were also closed and the children sent home - which caused quite a bit of consternation to those of us local exhibitors with children in school). The tornado didn't materialize so after an hour or two we were allowed to return to the buildings and the judging was resumed.
One year we held our show at Borleske Field. And the show was on the Sunday preceding the Richland and Yakima shows. This happened because of a twist in the AKC calendar that year. Many of the members would love to held that Sunday date, but the following year we went back with Richland and Yakima and on Friday and at the Fairgrounds.
After Al and I (and our son, Gary) moved from Milton-Freewater to the Willamette Valley in 1965, we were not able to exhibit at WWKC as much as we would have liked. Al was teaching school and I also worked, so it was difficult to get away for a Friday show. However, I have judged at least two matches for WWKC since we moved away - and WWKC didn't forget me, but gave me one of my first provisional judging assignments (1980) when I was working toward my license to judge Collies and Shelties (which I greatly appreciated) and I have judged for WWKC twice since. We cherish the memories of our years as members of the WWKC - helping to get the fledgling re-activated club off the ground, working on the shows, and exhibiting at them. We cut our teeth in the dog show world with WWKC - Thanks!
Sent to the WWKC by Lorraine Still, May 12, 1989.