Some 70 years ago, there was no such thing as a dog writer. There were newsmen and newswomen and magazine writers. Most of the papers assigned sportswriters, reporters, and even copyboys, to cover dog shows. Still, these were the ones who made the dog world an indelible part of our popular culture by writing about dogs on the sports pages of most papers.
The Dog Writers Association was born on February 13, 1935, in the Westminster Kennel Club’s meeting room in the old Madison Square Garden at Eighth Avenue and Fiftieth Street. Thirty writers, editors and publishers were invited, but all that survives of the first meeting is a crumbling, yellow sheet of note paper reading, “DUES PAID AT FIRST MEETING” followed by the names of eight people. It was decided to set dues and hold a winter meeting in New York City each year just before the Westminster Kennel Club show, which has become an annual tradition.
From its very beginning, the DWAA has been able to secure for dog writers the courtesies and amenities at dog shows so necessary for doing their jobs properly. Press facilities with laptop computers, tables, show results, catalogs and judging programs are now the established rule for large, professionally accomplished shows around the country. But there is much more to the Association than courtesies and amenities.
The best known aspect of the DWAA is its annual writing competition, which is meant to encourage quality writing about dogs in all aspects of companionship plus the dog sport. The competition is open to all writers, photographers, editors and publishers — with no distinction between amateurs and professionals.
The annual dinner held the night before the Westminster show at a major restaurant or hotel banquet hall is the highlight of the year for DWAA members. Although the dinner is held to present the awards to the winners of the writing competition, it is a happy, social event that members and guests enjoy. They cheer the winners and congratulate the runners-up. It is their best moment.
Important to all members of the Association is their newsletter which goes out every month. From Los Angeles to Montreal, Miami to Kailua, the DWAA Newsletter is an eagerly awaited piece of mail. Standard features in each issue are the President’s column, Letters to the Editor, a Hometown Column with news about members, and insightful articles from various members about their experiences and philosophies.
Whenever you browse through the books and dog magazines at your favorite book store, you will see the names of DWAA members. For a majority of the others engaged in producing dog-related publications, being able to rub shoulders with the top talents in the field is good reason for belonging to the Dog Writers Association of America.
Taken with permission from the Dog Writers Association Web site, www.dwaa.org.