The Perthshire Canine Society

The original Minute Book of the Club, records that 20 gentlemen (please note – No Ladies) met in the Coffee House, George Street, Perth, on Tuesday 9 December 1884 for the purpose of forming a Canine Society. At the close of the meeting, 16 gentlemen paid their annual subscription and the Society came into being. The first President was Mr Lumsden, Mill owner of Pitcairnfield and the first Secretary a Mr Stuart of Perth.

There were a number of Committee Meetings held in rapid succession thereafter and a Show was organised to be held in the City Hall Perth, with two Judges, one a local man, Mr J D Thomson-Gray while the other was a certain Mr V Shaw of Wapshot Farm, Middlesex.

It is somewhat astonishing to note that the Entry Fee was six shillings per dog/per Class, while the First Prize was thirty shillings. At that time, records from the Perth Waterworks show that the total wages bill for men for one week employed in the maintenance of the town’s water supply was £4.19s.0d. i.e. just over sixteen shillings per week,or, in modern terms about £0.80p. The number of Entries was 309 – at the forthcoming Show it is hoped to be around 1,500.

The social side of dog showing was not forgotten for in 1885 it is recorded that there was a fish and trype (!) supper held in the St. Johnstone Inn, presumably the Committee ate the fish and the dogs ate the trype.

The Committee must have realised that the six shillings Entry Fee was high for working people and in 1887 the fee for entry in the Sheepdog Classes was reduced to three shillings per dog to encourage working shepherds to enter.

However, to counter this burst of generosity, the Entry Fee for the other Classes was promptly raised to ten shillings. The full classification for the two day show is not recorded but mention is made of Classes for Bulldogs, Mastiffs, Deerhounds, Wire-Haired Fox Terriers, Dandie Dinmont Terriers and perhaps surprisingly Welsh Terriers. The Judges that year were Lord Antrim, Mr Taylor from Manchester and Mr Thomson-Gray once again.

Whether the Show passed off peacefully is not recorded but an ominous note appears in the Minutes recording that the hire of two constables for the two days cost the Club the sum of sixteen shillings. Maybe the Judges opinions were not always accepted in the spirit in which they were given!

At that stage, the Club was evidently in a sound financial state for when it proved difficult to find a Secretary, it was agreed to appoint a Mr Johnstone to the post at a fee of five guineas per meeting.

The Club seems to have led a serene if slightly progressive existence until in 1936 it held its first and only Championship Show with Challenge Certificates on offer for eighteen breeds including Affenschnauzers which is of particular interest to the Present Secretary.

In that year, the Club listed amongst its patrons ; His Grace the Duke of Atholl, the Rt. Hon. the Earl of Mansfield, the Rt. Hon. the Lord Forteviot, Baroness Burton, Sir John and Lady Ward and the Rt. Hon. F. Norrie Miller M.P. The Club’s link with the Mansfield family has been maintained to the present day with the Dowager Countess of Mansfield being the Club’s Honorary President and a regular attender at Club Shows.

No further Championship Shows were held and the Club closed down its activities at the outbreak of war, resuming in 1946. In the years following, the Club ran a series of Shows, one Open and one Limit Show each year. Usually the Summer Limit Show being run in conjunction with the Perthshire Agricultural Society while the Spring Open Show was held in the Cattle Market, a venue generously given without charge by MacDonald Fraser whose family have long been associated with the Club.

More recently, the Summer Show has been held in the Perth Ice Rink, a venue which has proved extremely popular with exhibitors.

The Club’s policy since its first meeting has been to provide a Show for exhibitors and to obtain the services of the best Judges available. It is to be hoped that the next hundred years will see the Club maintain that policy and continue to remain a favourite show of exhibitors and Judges alike.

The Centennial Show of the Club is to be held in the Ice Rink on 5 August 1984 and it is hoped for a good support from exhibitors as there will be many worthwhile cash and other Specials and many extra breed classes scheduled.

The Scottish Field July 1924 – Concerning Dogs

Perth’s Triumph
Circumstances more often combine against us than for us, but occasionally circumstances seem to be the very combination of benevolence. Nothing short of that rare unity could have enabled the executive of Perth show to achieve the triumph that was theirs last month ; in becoming the actual, expectations did not descend from their altitude, and the event was a lesson in what a show should be. A year ago, at the show which took place in the drill hall, the Perth annual was obviously like a little boy who had outgrown his clothes and was getting a little uncomfortable in the skimpiness of his attire ; the little boy, too, had got a trifle fat on success, and he had either to curtail his height and his rotundity or seek for more ample accomodation. There was the question, too : ” What is the use of growing up unless one grows progressive at the same time ? ” But new clothes, in the shape of larger halls, are not easily found these days, and it was here that Mr. Lovat Fraser gave further evidence of what an asset he is to the Perth society ; he generously offered the executive (of which he is chairman) the use of the wool mart belonging to his firm. So at once there was the ideal in venue, and the Perth people having proved their efficacy by the shows they had previously held, the Kennel Club placed that to their credit and generously granted championships for this year’s event. The wool mart has fields adjoining it, and there were placed the spacious rings which made judging a delight, while round each ring was seating accomodation for the largest crowd, and in each ring were enamelled washstands with basins, soap, and towels for the judges’ use. That was one of Mr. William Steele’s little touches, and it is one of the details which have been frequently advocated at dog shows, but which are seldom, if ever, seen.

The Ladies Lounge
Mr. Steele is the honorary secretary of the Perth event, and I suspect that the supreme tit-bit of the show – the ladies’ lounge – was his idea ; anyhow, it was from his hotel (the historic Royal George, where he has applied his natural hospitality to the creation of a great business) that the luxurious fittings came ; in its curtains, chesterfields, and easy chairs, the lounge might have been a sample room from a big furniture emporium (though furniture firms do not include entertainment and refreshments !), while in a room adjoining was everything from a huge mirror to a powder puff. Quite glaringly, of course, behind much of that thoughtfulness was the hand of femininity, but then on the Perth committee are Mrs. Lovat Fraser (the chairman’s charming wife), Mrs. Shaw, Mrs. Grainger Heaton, who goes in for sporting Spaniels and fur-producing rabbits, and the Misses Bell, who are making fame for their Cairn Terrier kennel at Glenfarg. Messrs. Spratts did the benching and feeding of exhibits, and this was the first time that I had seen the new sheet-metal divisions between the dogs. These divisions have taken the place of the wire ones – at the suggestion of the Kennel Club – and the idea is that they will decrease the risk of distemper infection by preventing the exhibits imbibing each other’s breath while on the bench. The innovation must have cost the penning firms a pretty penny to provide, and while in their newness the divisions improve the appearance of a show, while not obstructing the public’s view of it, as I feared they might, I question if they will affect the distemper risk in the slightest. Certainly they can be sponged down if the exhibitor cares to do so, and that was impossible with the wire divisions. All the same, there is no reason why everything should not be done to minimise the risk of infection at shows, but when will exhibitors learn that the most effectual minimising can be done by them and them alone.

The New Bench Divisions
Occasional sponging out of the exhibit’s mouth (with a sponge dipped in some non-poisonous disinfectant) during the run of the show, and even the more frequent sponging of the nose, will help infinitely more than the dividing of one dog from another. Then, too, if distemper capsules are given for two or three days before a show, while at a show and for two or three days after the return home, distemper will be immensely minimised ; if it is not always prevented by these means, its attack will be a weaker and less serious affair if it does come. The distemper germ may go on being elusive, but fanciers can do much, very much, by making use of remedies which are ready to their hands. If the new sheet-metal divisions do nothing else, they will probably make for a little less noise at shows ; they will prevent the canine ladies making remarks to their next-door neighbours about those next-door neighbours’ beauty, or the lack of it ; and if a canine gentleman wants to tell another canine gentleman that the latter is better at catching fleas than catching rats, and that the only thing he is fit to chase is his own tail, he will have to do so without the gratification of knowing how his victim is taking it. In the doggy as in the human kingdom, it is not much fun being abusive if you cannot see the results as you go along. The actual management of Perth show was in the cleverly capable hands of Mr. Willie Shannon, and behind the scenes was Mr. Jimmy Garrow, back to his old prominence as fancier, journalist, and judge. Still, Perth has its problem for next year, and the problem is : Is it to be a two days’ event as this year, or simply of one day’s duration ? I have no sympathy with the get-rich-quick methods of the postwar fancy, but they say that if Perth had been a one-day show it would have had an even bigger entry last month. Perhaps, but would it have been the pleasant social gathering it was ? The duration of our big shows is one of the worries of the time, and it is a subject that I will return to.