Q: Where is the prestigious Dog Writer’s Maxwell Medallion made?
When asked to write about the history of the Maxwell Medallion I gleaned some information about the DWAA I had not read before. The Dog Writers Association of America was not always our name. We were known as the Dog Writers Association. About the time of the McCarthy era and the House Un-American Activities Committee, we had a member, Harvey Barcus, a Past President and writer for the Detroit News, who thought we should be more American and thus the name, Dog Writers Association of America came into being.
In the early 1970’s Maxwell Riddle called Sue Jeffries and asked her to run the writing contest. We were awarding plaques to the winners and had second and third place awards. Sue recalls that Bill Denlinger, then President, wanted the finalists to be called nominees. Bill wanted to ensure the awards were given out like the Academy Awards with an elaborate presentation. Sue called on Carol Lea Benjamin for help in establishing this award.
Carol Lea was reading the New York Times one morning and she saw a photo of the Medal of Freedom. It was a medal on a ribbon worn around your neck. Carol claims that was her inspiration for designing the Maxwell Medallion. Since the Medal of Freedom was presented to winners with their heads bent down during the presentation, Carol Lea thought that should be the same for the DWAA Contest winners.
I am sure by now you are all saying, “why Maxwell Riddle”? Maxwell worked for 35 years for the Cleveland Press as a feature writer and reporter. His syndicated dog column ran for 30 years. A Past President of the DWAA and wrote a column for Dog World for 50 years. He was an AKC Dog Judge and judged in Japan, South America, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Canada, Australia, and all over Europe. He was the founder of the Ravenna Kennel Club and had been their President for 47 years. He was known in his day as the greatest authority on dogs and wrote many books on puppy training and various other dog subjects. He was known all over the world as a dog expert.
The then Board of the DWAA honoured Maxwell Riddle by naming the medallion after him. We can thank Sue Jeffries and Bill Delinger for the idea and Carol Lea Benjamin for designing the medallion. Sue had it made in Kentucky and it is still made there after all these years.
To me, the Maxwell brings memories of having known this great man and I have many pictures of my dogs winning with him as judge.
To those who knew the history of the Maxwell it was a thrill to watch Sue and Carol Lea place the medallions around the winner’s necks in 2008 for the 2007 contest. It was a tribute to their work for the Maxwell Medallion.
— Pat Santi,
Historian, Member since 1989