Exhibitors will be Exhibitors

Airedale c 1891Airedale c 1891

This whimsical view of published rhetoric that happened over 120 years ago, still appears on today's social media. It demonstrates that frivolous conflicts were endemic to dog shows from the beginning. Is this because dog shows are all about opinion? If so, is it just a product of today's society that discussion about today's show dogs attracts litigation?

Over 120 Years Ago!

Airedale England 1883Airedale England 1883

Let's take the judging of Airedale Terriers over 120 years ago as an example. Why Airedales? Firstly, because they are one of the very few breeds that have been bred and exhibited here in Australia continuously over 120 years, almost as long as they have been recognized. Secondly, because my personal research and involvement with Airedales spans 48 of these years, I stumbled across this exchange of a series of articles that were published in Australian newspapers in the 1890's that prove my point.

Australia's First Airedales

Airedale Yeardon RingAiredale Yeardon Ring

In 1890, Mr Addy imported the first pair of Airedales into Australia, Yeardon Ring (pictured) and Yeardon Rosebud. A Report on Saturday August 1st 1891 by 'The Kennelman' stated what a good breeding pair they were![9]. They came from the region of 'Airedale', in Yorkshire, England. This encompasses an area on the banks of the Aire valley where Airedales used to work and from which they derived their name.

Mr Edmondson' AiredalesMr Edmondson' Airedales

In 1891 Mr Edmonson imported a second pair. But Mr Addy claimed that HE was the authority on the breed because he was born in Airedale! By 1894 Mr Addy had bred a dog called 'Mentone Ringmaster' who scooped the pool. That was until Mr Thompson imported another dog called 'Spring'. When 'Spring' beat 'Ringmaster', all hell broke loose! Mr Addy voiced his opinion in the 'the Australasian' newspaper sparking a series of articles that continued over several months. They went like this:

On the Saturday 16th June in a Report by 'The Kennelman' of the 'Show on Thursday last', it stated

'That the Northern and District Poultry and Dog Society Show was held at he Kensington Ice Skating Rick on Thursday last... there was one matter that called forth complaint'.[1] 

The Initial Complaint

H. Thomson's 'Spring'H. Thomson's 'Spring'

On Saturday 30th June in a Letter to the Editor' of the 'Australasian' Mr Addy stated:

".. as to the show points of the dogs. Whilst admitting the winner has a grand skull, nice neck and shoulders, and plenty of life, he has many faults, viz., a big bad eye, soft, silky hair on the top of his head, an objectionable conical lump on the back of his head. Ears rather big, on this occasion carried them badly, one completely hanging back.Body generally too long and lean, coat dead and generally falling off, and at any time far too open, legs very poor in bone and out at elbows, and in general appearance too slack set up. On this occasion he loses to (my dog) 'Ringmaster..."[2].

The First Reply

Mentone RingmasterMentone Ringmaster

In the same issue, published immediately underneath the above text but dated June 27th, the judge on the day, Mr Coupe replied to each one of Mr Addy's allegations, defending his decisions[2].

Mr Addy disagreed replying that:

"... I would ask Mr Coupe before judging these dogs again that to seek advice from him or some of the many Airedale men we have in our midst. After all, he was born and bred in Airedale and for 25 years had ample opportunity to learn about their points and characteristics"[2].

'Waterside Terriers'

In the same issue the judge, Mr Coupe replied that his knowledge of the breed:

'Waterside Terrier''Waterside Terrier'

"... dates back from when they were known as 'Waterside Terriers' and were known as 'Watersiders'. Moreover, I judged them myself, also in conjunction with the late John Fisher, of Cross Hills, at Yorkshire Shows, tens of years ago and was acquainted with many who championed their cause when they were emerging from a state of mongrelism to that of the acknowledged variety under their present title, and well understood the type breeders were aiming at producing. I therefore think it it is highly unlikely I should make a mistake in judging three dogs[2]".

The Second Complaint and Reply

"... the dog 'Spring' placed first would, under some judges in England have been overlooked, as he was suffering from a very bad canker in the ear, and was altogether out of condition"[2].

In the next issue was a polite letter from the owner of 'Spring' saying the dog had been inspected by the Veterinary surgeon on the day, a Mr Kendall M.C.R.V.S.saying he had examined the dog on the day and the dog:

".. had no signs of canker.  As the lobe of Spring's ear had been evidently bitten by some previous encounter, the internal potion of the external ear was perfectly clean and healthy"[3].

The Third Complaint and Reply

In the following issue, Mr Addy then replied claiming that the judge on the day, Mr Coupe selected 'Spring' in England and organized the sale of him to Mr Harold Thompson in Melbourne.

The owner of 'Spring', Mr Harold Thompson wrote a 'Letter to the Editor' stating the judge Mr Coupe had no part in importing Spring[4]. Additionally, a letter was published from a Mr Enoch Hutton of Pudsley, Leeds in England stating:

"... that I selected the dog, and sent him to Messrs Spratt' shipping agency who conveyed him out, and Mr Coupe had no part in the matter in any way"[5].

The judge, Mr Coupe also stated:

" I did not buy the dog 'Spring' for Mr Thompson nor did I ever see the dog until he was in Mr Thompson's kennel[4]".

The Outcome

Advertisement for RingmasterAdvertisement for Ringmaster

'Spring', made a great impact on the breed, and is in the pedigrees of many of our early Airedales. As for Mr Addy, after this and some further exchange, he sold all his dogs and returned to England 'til things are better in the colony'[7]. Poor 'Ringmaster' was sold to a Mr Jackson in Melbourne (see Adv on right).

Lastly he, together with his sire 'Yeadon Ring', were sold to a Mr E Wright in Coolgardie, Western Australia. Sadly, 'Yeadon Ring' did not survive the long trip. Having travelled firstly by boat from Melbourne to Albany in Western Australia, the final 600 odd kilometers to from Albany to Coolgardie was presumably by horse and cart over a hot and dusty road. On this final leg, 'Yeadon Ring' was accidentally shot. The final report I could find about Ringmaster was from the 1898 'West Australian' newspaper which describes him as an old dog:

"In open dogs, Mr. E. Wright's Mentone Ringmaster showing age and thickening in jaw[8]..."

Jane with her AiredaleJane with her Airedale


So whether the medium is in the form of a report or a 'Letter to the Editor' in a newspaper or on today's social media, this exchange proves that dog exhibitors have not changed in over 120 years. That is probably because criticism is an endemic part of dog showing. Positive criticism can help improve our dogs. But negative criticism cannot. So, surely administrators would be better off recognizing this and turning a deaf ear, rather than being party to any consequent litigation.

References and Further Reading

[1] Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946), Saturday 16 June 1894, page 12

[2] Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946), Saturday 30 June 1894, page 12

[3] Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946), Saturday 7 July 1894, page 11 Denise Addy 10

[4] Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946), Saturday 14 July 1894, page 12

[5] Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946), Saturday 17 November 1894, page 12

[6] Weekly Times (Melbourne, Vic. : 1869 - 1954), Saturday 19 January 1895, page 34

[7] Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946), Saturday 21 July 1894, page 11

[8] The 'West Australian' Thursday 12 May 1989

[9] Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946), Saturday 1 August 1891