Chip Off the Old Block
It’s not known just when Sheldon Stewart recognized greatness in Sovereign, or ‘Chip’ as he was called, but certainly by 1936 he knew his way around an Airedale. He entered our young hero in the 1936 Airedale Terrier Club of America show, where Sovereign ended up going Reserve Winners Dog. Next came Westminster, where Sovereign took a second in the American-Bred class. After that, we can well imagine Stewart’s frustration, but he did have the calming salve of fellow Airedaler and breed columnist for the AKC Gazette, David Bruce, to soothe him.
Of Sovereign, Bruce wrote, “He has all the necessary attributes for the makings of an extra good Airedale, one of the kind that comes along once in a while. He is without a doubt his sire’s best son, making up like him with plenty of substance into a big ribbed, short backed youngster. He has inherited a great length of head with that extra bit of foreface that carried his maternal grandsire to many notable victories. He has a nice pair of dark eyes and small, well-carried ears, clean neck and well laid back shoulders. He also has the color and coat of his sire that cannot be faulted. This one will go far and is sure to carry the Shelterock standard to the highest award many times.”
Surely these words were a real pick-me-up for Stewart, and we can wonder who else was reading those lines. For just a couple of months later, the dog was indeed noticed by none other than the unforgettable all-rounder, William Kendrick, who gave our Merry young dog a Best in Show out of a lineup that included the great Borzoi, Ch. Vigow of Romanoff, Mrs. Dodge’s imported German Shepherd Dog, Ch. Dewet v. d. Starrenberg of Giralda, and the legendary Chow Chow, Ch. Farland Thundergust.
A graduate of Princeton University and a dyed-in-the-wool dog man, Kendrick was certainly one of the most well-respected judges in America. In his early pictures taken at outdoor summer shows, the camera often captured him wearing a straw boater and a dapper blazer. From his writing you can tell he knew a lot about dogs, and of Sovereign he wrote, “The Airedale, Shelterock Merry Sovereign, commanded attention at once. Here was a young dog of marvelous make and shape in obviously perfect form. His condition can be attributed to Harry Livesey who handled him. Sovereign owns a grand outlook, is exceptionally typical in eye and ear, level in topline, rich in color, dead true in front, has his tail set on in the right place and excels in hind-quarters which are well off for their well made muscular thighs, well-bowed stifles and correct hocks. He was especially pleasing in ear, set-on of tail and hindquarters wherein so many of his breed have been found wanting of recent years. The dog apparently was incapable of moving or standing in anything but commanding and typical fashion. He formed a picture of one of the grandest Terriers these eyes have seen or ever hope to see. He was undeniably entitled to the number one position. It is history now that none quite so impressed these eyes as the Airedale Merry Sovereign to which was awarded the premier honor. As stated to a representative of the press, there was no reserve award made. The Airedale mowed down each of his competitors one by one and no attempt was made to adjudge their relative positions.”
You just have to know that after a paragraph like that, the dog would begin to soar — and boy, did he soar! Soon after Trenton, Merry Sovereign went on a winning streak that landed him as the top Terrier in America for 1936. His next show was another classic venue and at Greenwich, where our boy put down the immortal white Poodle, Int. Ch. Nunsoe Duc de la Terrace of Blakeen, and from there, Sovereign continued to fly. At Morris & Essex, he went as high as Group First but was beaten by the Harrier, Ch. Reynolds Monarch, for Best in Show, but people were talking about the Airedale sensation who was “always impeccably put down in Livesey-like manner.”
Looking Back: The 1935 Westminster Kennel Club Show
This year’s champion was Blakeen Kennel’s Standard Poodle Ch. Nunsoe Due de la Terrace of Blakeen. Read More>>