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History of NVBC

By Pete Hilgartner written in 1998 with contributions from Fred Angel and Dean McDowell

One day, in the summer of 1972, I received a call from Dean McDowell. He told me his Brittany bitch had given birth to two pups and would I want the male. I gave him a very positive "yes" to this. I had never owned a hunting dog or a Brit before but had a lot of interest in having one. In the months that followed, I saw a lot of Dean and our conversations were mainly about Brittanys and our two pups. There were no nearby clubs except for the Tidewater (VA) and Maryland Brittany Clubs. This fact led us to begin talking about forming a club in the Northern Virginia area. 

By the time February 1973 rolled around we had come in contact with several other Brittany owners who felt the same way we did. Fred Angel, Bill and Mary Ann Bandy, Leroy Trunell, Dr. Ronald Apter, and Mike Stadick to name a few.

By then we were learning that forming a new club was going to involve considerable effort. We learned from the American Brittany Club (ABC) that a constitution was needed. I joined the Tidewater Club and they agreed to sponsor us. They also sent a copy of their constitituion and by-laws for use to use in designing ours. The Bandys already belonged to the Maryland Club and were very helpful with information about field trials, shows, etc. Hunt tests were not in being at that time.

The group was very enthusiastic and we had numerous meetings: at least every other week and sometimes weekly. Selecting the Club's name created considerable discussion not only among the founding members but also the ABC. Finally, all parties agreed on the Northern Virginia Brittany Club (NVBC). It was based on historical fact that the Army of Northern Virginia operated in this part of Virginia and Maryland for a considerable period during the Civil War. The ABC accepted this rationale! On June 28th, 1973, the constitution and by-laws were signed and forwarded to the ABC with the letter from the Tidewater Club recommending establishment of our club.

In drafting the by-laws, the founding members recognized that no club could survive without members. They wanted each incoming administration to recognize this fact. Therefore, when the office of 2nd Vice-president was established, it was specifically stated that he/she could be in charge of the membership committee, as well as the constitution and the by-laws. The idea was for him/her to ensure new members were properly incorporated and welcomed in the club after they joined.

An intensive recruiting effort for members to meet the ABC's minimum twenty-five member level had already begun. This effort brought in some wonderful people who, in years to come, would make substantial contributions to the success of our club. Among those were Paul and Penny Colbert, Mark and Pat Reed, Jim Lee, and Art and Judy Cohen to name just a few.

After being established as a provisional club by the ABC, our first fall Fun Field Trial was held October 28th, 1973 on a farm near Dean McDowell's Merrimac Farm in Nokesville, VA. Bill Bandy was the chairman. I don't recall all the placements, but the puppy stake is forever emblazoned in my mind. My pup, Pat, saw quail get up in the field at the break away point (approximately 100 yards); he streaked for that place, finding and pointing birds as required. The placement ribbons were awarded to me, Fred Angel, and Paul Colbert. I will always treasure that blue one.