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Despite a very rainy weather forecast — not to mention the potential of Hurricane Joaquin bearing down on the Northeast within a few days — crowds of people and dogs descended on Somerset, New Jersey, on October 1 for the Morris & Essex Kennel Club’s spectacular 2015 outdoor dog show.

A revival of the lavish events hosted from the 1920s to 1950s by dog lover Mrs. Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge on the polo fields of her estate, the Morris & Essex show is now held only every five years and is a major event on the U.S. dog show scene.

Fortunately the weather was not quite as bad as predicted, with most of the day cloudy and cool but light rain holding off until the afternoon. With an entry of 4,600-plus, the competition drew top dogs from across the country. Judging continued throughout the day and into early evening, with Best in Show wrapping up around 8:30 p.m.

Judge Mrs. Dorothy N. Collier awarded Best in Show to the Pekingese GCh. Pequest General Tso, breeder-owner-handled by David Fitzpatrick and co-owned by N. Shapland. Reserve Best in Show was the German Shorthaired Pointer GCh. Vjk-Myst Garbonitas California Journey, handled by Valerie Nunes-Atkinson, owned by V. Atkinson, A. Manning, and Y. Hassler-Deterding, and bred by Alice Manning, Anita Weiss, and Valerie Nunes-Atkinson.

In tribute to the early years of the Morris & Essex show and the fashions of that era, it has become a much-enjoyed tradition at the recent M&E shows for attendees and exhibitors to wear stylish hats and other vintage garb. So by happy coincidence, the hairstyles of many (many humans, that is—the dogs were out of luck) were afforded some protection from the damp weather by bowlers, caps, fedoras, and fascinators.

Other elements of this special dog show event included numerous vendors, a juried art show with a $1,000 top prize, a stunning trophy display, a silent auction, and complimentary box lunches for all exhibitors.


In the show’s heyday in the 1930s and ’40s, spectator attendance sometimes reached 50,000 and more, and entries of three to four thousand canines competed for a vast array of silver trophies. The event was an important date for New York society as well as for the dog show world. Mrs. Dodge and her staff of hundreds catered meticulously to every detail, including pennants bearing the Morris & Essex logo that flew at every ringside and gourmet lunches provided free to all exhibitors.

The last of the original Morris & Essex Kennel Club dog shows was held in 1957, but the club was revived in the late 1990s with the aim of recreating a top-level event for the dog world that would echo the elegance and attention to detail of the show’s golden age. In the new era the show has been held every five years since 2000, with the country’s top dogs in competition at each event.


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All photos courtesy Diana Han, Nor Cal Bulldogger Photography

Reporting by Arliss Paddock for the AKC Gazette

(Continued: See Part Two and Part Three)

For more reporting on the Morris & Essex Kennel Club dog show and its history, see:

Remembering Morris & Essex, By Anna Katherine Nicholas (Parts OneTwo, and Three)

Morris and Essex: Rare Video Brings Ring Greats Back to Life (Parts OneTwo, and Three)

David Frei Announcing at Today’s Prestigious Morris & Essex Kennel Club Dog Show