New-York Historical Society's Bill Shannon Dictionary of New York Sports

Category Archives: Dog show

Alva Rosenberg

Alva Rosenberg (Dog show.  Born, Brooklyn, NY, July 26, 1892; died, Wilton, CT, Mar. 8, 1973.)  Alva Rosenberg was perhaps the best-known dog show judge of his era despite never being accorded the honor of judging the Best-in-Show at the Westminster Kennel Club.  He did, however, judge many groups there during a career that lasted over 60 years of active judging.  Rosenberg’s career as a judge began in 1910 at the old Red Bank (N.J.) Kennel Club, where he judged the Pomeranians.  Virtually from that time on, he was in constant demand as a judge and, in 1969, Rosenberg judged all the groups and the Best-in-Show at England’s Windsor show.  During his long career, Rosenberg judged more than 1,000 shows in the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Puerto Rico, and Cuba.  Indeed, he was scheduled to judge a show in The Bronx two weeks after his death and the show itself was dedicated to his memory.  Walter Fletcher (q.v.) of The New York Times, whose own career as a working newspaperman spanned more than 60 years, once wrote, “The most difficult story I ever was called upon to write was the obit for this great man.”

Henry Stoecker

Henry Stoecker (Dog show.  Born, Verdan, North Germany, Sept. 29, 1903; died. Holmdel, NJ, Dec. 12, 1998.)  Rated over four decades as one of the great judges in the history of American dog shows, Henry Stoecker was born and raised in Germany with a father who bred and showed Airdales, smoot Fox Terriers, and Boxers.  He showed his first dog at 10.  After coming to the U.S., Stoecker bred and showed Boxers and Doberman Pinschers in his own right, and his “Dodi v.d. Stoeckersburg” was the first American-born champion bitch in boxers.  He later became manager of the famed Philicoc Kennels owned by Mrs. Milton Erlanger and after World War II showed poodles for other renowned kennels.  He and Ch. Philicoc Cado Noel won the country’s first obedience trial in 1936.  Like many Americans, he was detoured a bit in his career by World War II.  He joined the Army as a civilian trainer of dogs and traveled across the country training dogs, eventually reenlisting as an officer and rising to the rank of Captain by 1945.  Although his first judging assignment came in 1930, Stoecker did not become a professional judge until 1950.  He then became internationally known, judging in all 50 states as well as Bermuda, Canada, Australia, South America, England, and Puerto Rico.  Stoecker qualified as an all-breed judge in 1966 and judged the most prestigious of all shows, the Westminster Kennel Club at Madison Square Garden, on numerous occasions.

Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge

Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge (Dog show.  Born, New York, NY, Apr. 3, 1882; died, Madison, NJ, Aug. 13, 1973.)  Mrs. Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge twice showed Best-in-Show dogs at the Westminster Kennel Club’s annual extravaganza in Madison Square Garden.  Mrs. Dodge won with Ch. Nancolleth Markable, a Pointer, in 1932, and with Ch. Ferry von Rauhfelson, a Doberman Pinscher, in 1939.  But neither of these wins is central to her claim to fame in dogdom.  They do, however, confer on her the distinction of being the first owner to claim Best-in-Show at Westminster in two different breeds.  She made Westminster history in 1933 when she became the first woman ever accorded the honor of judging for Best-in-Show.   In 1927, Mrs. Dodge founded the Morris and Essex Kennel Club and each year, on the grounds of her estate, Giralda Farms, in Madison, N.J., she staged one of the world’s largest dog shows.  Until 1957, the “M and E” was one of the major dog shows in the world, where as many as 4,500 dogs were shown.  Mrs. Dodge was a daughter of William G. Rockefeller, a brother of John D., Sr., and the wife of Marcellus Hartley Dodge, heir to the Remington Arms fortune.

Michele Billings

Michele Billings (Dog show.  Born, Chicago, IL, Nov. 10, 1930; died, Fort Lauderdale, FL, Oct. 31, 2013.)  Like many of the greats in the dog show world, Michele Billings has had two distinct careers, the first as a breeder and the second as a judge.  Unlike most of her peers, she accomplished both with enormous distinction.  Although Chicago-born, Billings was raised from childhood in St. Petersburg, Fla., in a family of sportsmen who were both dog and horse fanciers.  She now resides there as well.  In 1952, she moved to Stone Mountain, Ga., and established the Kings Creek Kennels, which became noted throughout the dog world for its show-quality Beagles and German Shepherds.  In addition to breeding these dogs, she was also a show handler who travelled extensively, showing all breeds professionally for nearly 20 years.   Billings retired in 1970 but found that a two-year layoff was more than enough and began her second major career as a dog show judge.  After her return to the circuit in 1972, her rise as a judge was just short of phenomenal.  She became one of only six women in the country licensed by the American Kennel Club to judge all breeds and became the youngest all-breed judge in the country.  Billings was the recipient of the Gaines-Fido “Woman of the Year” award in 1983.  Three years later, she was named “Judge of the Year” by Kennel Review and was renominated for the award multiple times.  She reached the pinnacle of judging when she was appointed Best-in-Show judge for the Westminster Kennel Club show at Madison Square Garden in 1988.

August Belmont, IV

August Belmont, IV (Dog show.  Born, New York, NY, Dec. 30, 1908; died, Easton, MD, July 10, 1995.)  August Belmont, IV, was accomplished with both canines and equines.  During his lengthy career in dog competition, Belmont ran many fine dogs in field trials, served as an executive of the American Kennel Club and the National Retriever Club, and founded the Syosset Kennel Club on Long Island.  In 1957, Belmont purchased a six-week-old Chesapeake named Bomarc of South Bay, a history-maker in the breed who won his dog show title and became an amateur field champion.  A decade later, Belmont exhibited one of the finest Labradors ever in America – Super Chief.  Super Chief won his first “derby” when he was only 11 months old, won the National Retriever Championship in 1967 and in 1968 became the first dog ever to win both that crown and the National Open.  Belmont served as a Jockey Club steward starting in 1978 and was its chairman in 1982-83.  In 1983, he was also part-owner of Caveat, the first Belmont horse to win the Belmont Stakes in over half-a-century.  Belmont served many years as treasurer of the A.K.C. and as secretary-treasurer of the National Retrievers Club, and was chairman of the A.K.C.  From 1977-79 and served as president of the National Amateur Retrievers Club.

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The Bill Shannon Biographical Dictionary of New York Sports is an open database of sports biographies maintained by Jordan Sprechman and Marty Appel. We welcome public and scholarly contributions and suggestions.

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A prolific author, wire service sports reporter, long time Major League Baseball official scorer, football statistician, sports museum founder, theatrical agency owner and public ... read more

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