Founded June, 1973
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A Brief History of the Northern Virginia Brittany Club
   By Pete Hilgartner written in 1998 with contributions from
   Fred Angel and
Dean McDowell
    Photos from Tom Mauter, NVBC webmaster
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.
Taffy Mauter and Lucky
Taffy Mauter, our first Brittany, with Lucky,
our mixed Cocker, circa 1955 Toledo, Ohio
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.

As previously mentioned, we were all in the learning process. I'll never forget our first provisional show. Jim Lee entered a long-tail Brit not knowing that Brittany tails were supposed to be docked early in life. Although his entry was the only one in the American Bred class, the judge awarded him a tactful 2nd placement. Jim never entered that dog in a show again and took the inevitable ribbing with much grace. His Brit did perform well in field trials where he was accepted. Jim was so highly regarded by the Club that upon his untimely death, we created a Jim Lee Memorial trophy in his honor. This is awarded at our biannual field trials.

Pretty Boy and Lady Ann
Hillendale's Pretty Boy and Hillendale's Lady Ann, two of our first Brittany pups from Taffy, circa 1958 Toledo, Ohio
Our first AKC approved licensed Field Trial was held in April 1974 at McKee-Besher Wildlife Management Area, Seneca, MD. Bill Bandy was chairman for this event too. In fact, our field trials have been held at McKee-Besher in April and October each of the past twenty-four years. These trials have been the primary source of revenue for the Club. Fred Angel and Pual and Penny Colbert have for years been deeply involved in the conduct of these events. Fred and Paul have been present at every field trial the club ever held!

Our first show chairman was Pat Reed. She worked very hard getting us established with our Specialty shows with the Mattaponi Dog Show event held in Manassas. Judy Cohen, Carol Ann Jones, Kathy Cookson, and currently, Joann Anders, have contributed greatly to the success of our speciality show, to name a few.By 1975 our membership had grown substantially.

By 1986 we were the largest Brittany Club south of the Mason-Dixon line. Our Field Trials were being conducted with both walking and horseback handling permitted in the various field trial stakes (events.) Those members residing primarily in the area around and west of Warrenton, VA wanted more horseback handling and less foot handled dogs.

Lady and Pretty Boy
Lady and Pretty Boy, circa 1958 Toledo, Ohio
In the latter part of the summer, early fall, 1975, President Dean McDowell received a letter to the effect that these members were going to withdraw from the NVBC and form their own club. Our Board of Directors met and after recovering from the shock, decided that another club close by would mearn that more shared events, such as field trials, etc., would occur. The NVBC Board voted to support the request and our endorsement was forwarded to the ABC. The two clubs (NVBC and Rappahannock Brittany Club) now have a long history of mutual cooperation which we hope will continue.

As time passed, our club settled into a pattern of yearly activities with most of the programs described above still being held. Since 1986, our membership has stabilized in the +/- 60 area. Each administration made its own imprint. For example, the greatsummer crab feasts held at Walt and Joann King's home were especially happy events for our members.The creation of the NVBC newsletter, which is the envy of other Brittany Clubs, played, then as now, an important role in keeping our members informed. Pat Reed, as I recall, started the newsletter and was followed by me. With each succedding editor, improvement in content and format were made. Among these fine editors were Frank and Barbara Bernhardt, Kathe Bundy, Lori Kline, Kathy Cookson, and Wally Fullerton. The current editor is Diane Spencer.

Hunt Tests began in the 1987-88 era. About the same time, the February/March training programs were discontinued. These tests have great appeal to those who choose to hunt with their dogs on foot. Our club members have and are showing by their entries that hunt tests are here to stay. Our current hunt test chairman is the hard working Mike Spencer.Those of us who helped start this club some twenty-five years ago are proud of what the club has achieved. The Northern Virginia Brittany Club has set, we expect it will continue to, set high standards for other clubs to follow.

We congratulate our 15th elected President, Joann Anders, and wish her a happy and successful tour as leader of this fine group of Brittany Dog lovers.
- 1998

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Northern Virginia Brittany Club
Years in Office
9-12 1997
1 ¾

Pete Hilgartner
Dean McDowell
Fred Angel
Bill Bandy
Mark Reed
Pete Hilgartner
Carol Ann Jones
Dean McDowell
Peter Hecht
Henry Dubois
Walter King
Fred Angel
David Cookson
Bruce Conover
Pete Hilgartner
Joann Anders

Questions and comments are welcome! Send via e-mail to: Tom Mauter.

 Brittany and other breed graphics available from Fuzzy Faces Graphics