In the late 1950s, a dedicated group of English Springer Spaniel owners enjoyed getting together informally to train and show their dogs. Several of them decided to start a Specialty Club for Springers only. In 1957, the club was formally recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC). The AKC required clubs to be named after the part of the state where most of the members resided. Thus, the Puget Sound English Springer Spaniel Association came into being. The founders were Lillian Bingham, Tillie Elsner, Janelle Hodgkins, Daisy Lilley and Lucille Schwede. Their spouses were also quite involved. The club’s main goal was to promote and protect the English Springer Spaniel and to maintain the integrity of the breed. They all firmly believed in keeping the breed active not only in the show ring, but obedience and hunting activities.
One of the first fundraising activities for the new club was to conduct obedience training classes for Springer Spaniels. These classes were taught by Joe Lilley and held at the lumber yard that he owned. Several of the Springers from that first class went on to earn obedience titles. The men of the club also formed an obedience team consisting of four four handlers and dogs who competed in many local dog shows.
The Obedience Class in 1960
The obedience drill team of 1960
The first Specialty show for Springers only was held in conjunction with the Olympic Kennel Club in August of 1958. There were a total of 18 Springers entered and it was held in Renton Washington. The members of the club were all involved in conducting the Specialties and other club activities. Regular field training events were held where the dogs and owners would practice their hunting skills. This club has always prided itself on having members with dogs who could “do it all”. The club was one of the first to conduct Working Certificate Tests sponsored by the Parent Club.
The club continued to grow through the 1960s and 1970s. The first independent specialty was held in 1970. This was a big step for the club. Just two years later, in 1972, PSESSA was the host club for the English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association’s (ESSFTA) national specialty show. This is a huge undertaking and the members responded well by hosting a very successful show. In 1978, the club was approved to hold Obedience Classes with their Specialty shows.
As membership and activities continued to grow, the club had regular monthly meetings, a monthly Newsletter, educational programs and field training activities. In 1982, PSESSA moved its show site to our current grounds in Olympia, Washington. Also, that year marked the hosting of another successful National Specialty. Springer fanciers all over the country still think fondly of this beautiful setting for an outdoor show.
When the AKC started the Hunting Test program, we were in on the ground floor. We held one of the first tests and continue to hold them every year. We were instrumental in helping the AKC film the Hunt Test video here in Washington state.
|The dogs who earned Working Dog titles in 1993.|
PSESSA is the only club in the western part of the US to host four National Specialty shows (1972, 1982, 1992, and 2002). Our members are also active in tracking and agility and for the 2002 National we included both competitions for the first time.
We are very proud of our club and its efforts to protect our beloved English Springer Spaniels over the years. Our traditions, history and hard working members have made this club the success that it is today.
The club currently consists of 40 full members and 7 associate members. We are comprised of committed breeders, owners, trainers and handlers of the breed. Many of our members compete in conformation shows, while others show their dogs in obedience and agility trials. Several members hunt with their springers and compete with them in spaniel hunt tests. Some stalwart members do it all! We’re a friendly group who always welcome new enthusiasts to the breed.
If you would like to learn more about springer spaniels and want to meet club members and breeders, you’re welcome to attend one of club meetings, announced in our “meetings and events” page. Let us know you’re coming with a message in our comment box:
Current 2012 officers
President – Janet Warner
Vice President – Katie Effert
Recording Secretary -Lisa Peters
Corresponding Secretary- Lynn Winchester
Treasurer – Peggy Aulgur
Board of Directors:
2 year term
1 year term