BRITTANY CLUB HISTORY
Brief History of the Northern Virginia Brittany Club
Pete Hilgartner written in 1998 with contributions from
Angel and Dean
from Tom Mauter, NVBC webmaster
day, in the summer of 1972, I received a call from Dean McDowell.
He told me his Brittany bitch had given birth to two pups and would
I want the male. I gave him a very positive "yes" to this.
I had never owned a hunting dog or a Brit before but had a lot of
interest in having one. In the months that followed, I saw a lot
of Dean and our conversations were mainly about Brittanys and our
two pups. There were no nearby clubs except for the Tidewater (VA)
and Maryland Brittany Clubs. This fact led us to begin talking about
forming a club in the Northern Virginia area.
By the time February 1973 rolled around we had come in contact with
several other Brittany owners who felt the same way we did. Fred
Angel, Bill and Mary Ann Bandy, Leroy Trunell, Dr. Ronald Apter,
and Mike Stadick to name a few.
our first Brittany, with Lucky,
our mixed Cocker, circa 1955 Toledo, Ohio
then we were learning that forming a new club was going to involve
considerable effort. We learned from the American Brittany Club (ABC)
that a constitution was needed. I joined the Tidewater Club and they
agreed to sponsor us. They also sent a copy of their constitituion
and by-laws for use to use in designing ours. The Bandys already belonged
to the Maryland Club and were very helpful with information about
field trials, shows, etc. Hunt tests were not in being at that time.
The group was
very enthusiastic and we had numerous meetings: at least every other
week and sometimes weekly. Selecting the Club's name created considerable
discussion not only among the founding members but also the ABC.
Finally, all parties agreed on the Northern Virginia Brittany Club
(NVBC). It was based on historical fact that the Army of Northern
Virginia operated in this part of Virginia and Maryland for a considerable
period during the Civil War. The ABC accepted this rationale! On
June 28th, 1973, the constitution and by-laws were signed and forwarded
to the ABC with the letter from the Tidewater Club recommending
establishment of our club.
the by-laws, the founding members recognized that no club could
survive without members. They wanted each incoming administration
to recognize this fact. Therefore, when the office of 2nd Vice-president
was established, it was specifically stated that he/she could be
in charge of the membership committee, as well as the constitution
and the by-laws. The idea was for him/her to ensure new members
were properly incorporated and welcomed in the club after they joined.
recruiting effort for members to meet the ABC's minimum twenty-five
member level had already begun. This effort brought in some wonderful
people who, in years to come, would make substantial contributions
to the success of our club. Among those were Paul and Penny Colbert,
Mark and Pat Reed, Jim Lee, and Art and Judy Cohen to name just
established as a provisional club by the ABC, our first fall Fun
Field Trial was held October 28th, 1973 on a farm near Dean McDowell's
Merrimac Farm in Nokesville, VA. Bill Bandy was the chairman. I
don't recall all the placements, but the puppy stake is forever
emblazoned in my mind. My pup, Pat, saw quail get up in the field
at the break away point (approximately 100 yards); he streaked for
that place, finding and pointing birds as required. The placement
ribbons were awarded to me, Fred Angel, and Paul Colbert. I will
always treasure that blue one.
mentioned, we were all in the learning process. I'll never forget
our first provisional show. Jim Lee entered a long-tail Brit not
knowing that Brittany tails were supposed to be docked early in
life. Although his entry was the only one in the American Bred class,
the judge awarded him a tactful 2nd placement. Jim never entered
that dog in a show again and took the inevitable ribbing with much
grace. His Brit did perform well in field trials where he was accepted.
Jim was so highly regarded by the Club that upon his untimely death,
we created a Jim Lee Memorial trophy in his honor. This is awarded
at our biannual field trials.
Pretty Boy and Hillendale's Lady Ann, two of our first Brittany
pups from Taffy, circa 1958 Toledo, Ohio
first AKC approved licensed Field Trial was held in April 1974 at
McKee-Besher Wildlife Management Area, Seneca, MD. Bill Bandy was
chairman for this event too. In fact, our field trials have been held
at McKee-Besher in April and October each of the past twenty-four
years. These trials have been the primary source of revenue for the
Club. Fred Angel and Pual and Penny Colbert have for years been deeply
involved in the conduct of these events. Fred and Paul have been present
at every field trial the club ever held!
first show chairman was Pat Reed. She worked very hard getting us
established with our Specialty shows with the Mattaponi Dog Show event
held in Manassas. Judy Cohen, Carol Ann Jones, Kathy Cookson, and
currently, Joann Anders, have contributed greatly to the success of
our speciality show, to name a few.By 1975 our membership had grown
By 1986 we were the largest Brittany Club south of the Mason-Dixon
line. Our Field Trials were being conducted with both walking and
horseback handling permitted in the various field trial stakes (events.)
Those members residing primarily in the area around and west of Warrenton,
VA wanted more horseback handling and less foot handled dogs.
Lady and Pretty
Boy, circa 1958 Toledo, Ohio
latter part of the summer, early fall, 1975, President Dean McDowell
received a letter to the effect that these members were going to withdraw
from the NVBC and form their own club. Our Board of Directors met
and after recovering from the shock, decided that another club close
by would mearn that more shared events, such as field trials, etc.,
would occur. The NVBC Board voted to support the request and our endorsement
was forwarded to the ABC. The two clubs (NVBC and Rappahannock Brittany
Club) now have a long history of mutual cooperation which we hope
As time passed, our club settled into a pattern of yearly activities
with most of the programs described above still being held. Since
1986, our membership has stabilized in the +/- 60 area. Each administration
made its own imprint. For example, the greatsummer crab feasts held
at Walt and Joann King's home were especially happy events for our
members.The creation of the NVBC newsletter, which is the envy of
other Brittany Clubs, played, then as now, an important role in keeping
our members informed. Pat Reed, as I recall, started the newsletter
and was followed by me. With each succedding editor, improvement in
content and format were made. Among these fine editors were Frank
and Barbara Bernhardt, Kathe Bundy, Lori Kline, Kathy Cookson, and
Wally Fullerton. The current editor is Diane Spencer.
Hunt Tests began
in the 1987-88 era. About the same time, the February/March training
programs were discontinued. These tests have great appeal to those
who choose to hunt with their dogs on foot. Our club members have
and are showing by their entries that hunt tests are here to stay.
Our current hunt test chairman is the hard working Mike Spencer.Those
of us who helped start this club some twenty-five years ago are
proud of what the club has achieved. The Northern Virginia Brittany
Club has set, we expect it will continue to, set high standards
for other clubs to follow.
our 15th elected President, Joann Anders, and wish her a happy and
successful tour as leader of this fine group of Brittany Dog lovers.
Carol Ann Jones
and comments are welcome! Send via e-mail to: Tom