As I am sure the vast majority of those interested in "Our Mutual Friend" the Dog at the present day have no knowledge of the state of affairs in the early days of dog shows, I propose in this chapter to say something about the very first dog shows of which any record can be given. The one claiming to be the first ever held anywhere was in the Town Hall at Newcastle-on-Tyne, on June 28th and 29th, 1859, one of the founders of which, Mr. J. Shorthose, so well known as a successful breeder and exhibitor of Setters, was not long since, and I hope is still, alive, and many a time has he told the tale of getting up this first show.
They do not appear to have been unduly venturesome, as the breeds were restricted to Pointers, with Messrs. J. Jobling, T. Robson, and J. H. Walsh (afterwards known as "Stonehenge," and long identified with the Field newspaper, and undoubtedly one of the greater lights amongst the comparatively few Doggy Men of his day) as judges, and Setters, with Messrs. F. Foulger, R. Brailsford, and J. H. Walsh as judges.
From the limited particulars now obtainable, although there were sixty entries (by no means bad for two breeds only), there seem to have been but one prize awarded in each breed: that for the best Pointer going to Mr. R. Brailsford's liver-and-white dog, by Lord Derby's Bang out of his Dora; and for the best Setter the prize went to Mr. J. Jobling's Dandy.
Two happy men must have been Messrs. Brailsford and Jobling that day, carrying off against all comers the only prizes for best Pointer and best Setter ever competed for anywhere!
Since writing the foregoing I have seen the following short account of the first Show of Dogs in a popular fancier paper: -
"While both the promoters of the first dog show ever held still live, we thought it would be interesting to frequenters of dog shows in particular and dog owners in general to publish a few particulars of the show, which was held in the then New Corn Exchange, Newcastle-on-Tyne, on June 29th and 30th, 1859.
"There has, we know, been some little dispute as to which brain evolved the idea of a dog show, whether that of Mr. John Shorthose, the well-known Pointer and Setter breeder and judge, or Mr. W. R. Pape, the well-known Newcastle gunsmith, both gentlemen claiming the distinction even up to this very moment!
"We have no intention of attempting an elucidation of the matter here, after all these years have elapsed, if only for the respect and veneration we entertain for the aged sportsmen. That both gentlemen were associated in the promotion of the undertaking is beyond all dispute, and that Mr. Pape took a prominent and active part in the dog section of the show is equally clear.
"Both gentlemen have very kindly favoured us with many particulars concerning this memorable show, which established an epoch, and for all time will form a landmark in the history of the dog interest, not only in Great Britain, but throughout the civilised world.
"Mr. John Shorthose, who has been in the employ of Messrs. Bass & Co., the great Burton-on-Trent brewers, as far back as 1844, and is still their agent for Newcastle-on-Tyne, kindly sent us a copy of the report of the show, which appeared in the Newcastle Courant of Friday, July 1st, 1859, and we reprint this report and award list, so far as it refers to the dog section. It is as follows: -
"'This Exhibition took place in the New Corn Market on Wednesday and Thursday last. The new feature of the addition of Sporting Dogs to the show of Poultry was a great attraction, and tended in no slight degree to the success of the meeting. The arrangements were admirably carried out: litters, with proper divisions, round three sides of the spacious building were set apart for the dogs, which were chained and sufficiently protected by barriers from any chance of injuring or alarming the visitors; and in this section the prizes given, two valuable guns, from the manufactory of Mr. Pape, gunmaker, of this town, were probably a sufficient inducement to produce twenty-three entries for Pointers and thirty-seven for Setters, many being from different parts of the kingdom. Among them were some very splendid specimens of their kinds; and certainly on no former occasion was ever witnessed in this town so novel and, to sportsmen, such an interesting exhibition. And it may be remarked, as creditable to the breeders of Sporting Dogs in this district, that the palm for the best Setter was carried off by William Jobling, of Morpeth, that for Pointers being gained by J. Brailsford, Knowsley, Lancashire. Then; were many others which were highly commended by the judges for symmetry of shape and purity of breed, as will be noticed in the judges' decisions, who, it is presumed, in giving their decisions as to which is the best dog, could only certify to shape, symmetry, and apparent purity of breed; for although a dog may possess all these points, he may not, for want of proper training, scent, or other defects, be the best in the field for the sportsman.
"'However, we believe that the opinions of the judges in awarding the prizes were generally admitted to be correct.
"'This being the first show of the kind in Newcastle, its decided success, we have no doubt, will be a guarantee that it will be followed by others on a similar or perhaps more extended scale.
"'The management of the exhibition was entirely under the direction of Mr. Shorthose, Mr. Reid, and Mr. Pape, to whom every credit is due for their exertions and the excellent manner in which it was got up.
"'For Setters: Messrs. J. H. Walsh; Francis Foulger, gamekeeper to his Grace the Duke of Northumberland; and J. Brailsford, gamekeeper to the Earl of Derby.
Best, one of Pape's celebrated double-barrelled guns, worth from £15 to £20. First: J. Brailsford, Knowsley, Lancashire. Very highly commended: George Atkinson, Hall Farm, Seaham; and John Angus, Percy Street, Newcastle. Highly commended: John Charlton, Newcastle; Charles Lloyd, Howiek, Alnwick; and Edward Cowen, Blaydon. Commended: Charles Hibbert, Greenbank, Smallshaw, Ashton-under-Lyne; and Thomas Scott, Longhurst. Twenty-three competitors.