Icons of the Sport: Dr. Daniel & Janet Horn

Learn about the contributions of dog breeder Dr. Daniel & Janet Horn of Eastern Waters Chesapeake Bay Retrievers.

Dr. Daniel & Janet Horn
Eastern Waters Chesapeake Bay Retrievers

In the dog world, Dr. Daniel Horn is remembered for producing more than 100 Eastern Waters Chesapeake Bay Retriever titleholders. To the rest of the world, he was an early anti-smoking crusader.

Dan earned his Harvard doctorate in psychology in 1943 and became assistant director of statistical research at the American Cancer Society in 1947. In 1952, he became involved in a groundbreaking study linking smoking and cancer. It led to drastic revisions in government policies and public attitudes about smoking. His daughter, breeder-judge Betsy Horn Humer, remembers Dan as statistically oriented, carefully studying the AKC Show Awards to devise his show strategy. “He was an independent thinker, very much his own man.”

His attraction to an equally independent breed like the Chesapeake seems natural. Unlike some gundogs, Humer emphasizes that its temperament hasn’t been modified. “They are not a first-time breed for everyone. They need a job and are sometimes smarter than their owners.”

Dan and Janet met as college students in Boston. Chance encounters with Chesapeakes convinced them to have one after their marriage in 1937. In 1946, Dan surprised Janet with a Chesapeake puppy she called “the best birthday present I ever had.” This was Gloriana II. They joined the American Chesapeake Club, registered their Eastern Waters prefix in 1948, and put a CD on Glory in 1949. Although she wasn’t a show prospect, lack of competition posed a major obstacle for Chesapeake exhibitors back then. Humer notes, “There was no point in going to shows for a handful of meaningless ribbons. My mother got the ACC membership list and started contacting people.” Janet coordinated exhibitors to ensure competition, bringing new momentum to the Chesapeake show scene. 

In 1951, Glory’s puppy Ch. Tempest of Eastern Waters became the first of three of their champions that decade. Between 1960-1970, Eastern Waters produced 17 more. Humer remembers shows as “fun, family events.” Dan did most of the handling and son Nat Horn says “he not only loved the thrill of winning. At shows he made many friends. He loved sharing stories and grilling out. Steaks were his specialty.”

Janet focused on the breeding program and she is the sole breeder-owner of most Eastern Waters dogs, which became known for superior coat, sound movement, good temperament and working ability. Many have titles at both ends of their names. In 1954, the first was Ch. Eastern Waters’ Nugget UD, the foundation of Mildred Buchholz’s Chesachobee Kennel.

Dan and Janet hunted and belonged to field trial clubs, “but that’s a very expensive game” says Humer. “They were raising four children and had to make choices.” They chose to involve daughters Marguerite and Elizabeth, and sons Roger and Nathanial. The Horn children grew up stewarding, training and showing. This legacy continues, and three generations now participate in the sport.

Ch. Eastern Waters’ Baronessa, TD won the ACC national in 1964, 1965 and 1966, and produced Ch. Eastern Waters’ Oak, CD, TD, WD in 1965. Shown by Humer’s husband Rupert, ‘Oak’ won the ACC national twice and sired 25 champions. Humer calls Am./Ber. Ch. Eastern Waters’ Brown Charger “the breakthrough dog that paved the way for Chesapeakes in Group competition,” winning the 1970 ACC national and earning 30 Group placements.

During these years Dan was also immersed in a crucial study and its aftermath. On Jan. 11, 1964, the surgeon general presented their findings to 200 reporters at the State Department’s auditorium. Then on the Florida circuit, Dan abandoned Janet, 13-year-old Margie and 8-year-old Roger to fly to Washington. Daughter Margie Horn Palmer recalls, “I had no idea why he left and how important it was.” But Dan and Janet were an unbeatable team. Life went on. Throughout the 1970s Eastern Waters earned 20 championships, 14 CDs, five CDX and seven TD titles.

Handled by Dan and Nat, Am./Can. Ch. Eastern Waters’ Break O’ Day, Am./Can. CD, JH, WD won the ACC national in 1987 (pictured) and earned 19 Group placements. Janet trained and handled ‘Breakers’ in the field and obedience ring, and showed littermate, multiple Group winner Ch. Eastern Waters’ Keep the Dream. Her other passions were breed education and writing. She was the AKC Gazette columnist and authored The New Complete Chesapeake Bay Retriever in 1994. Dan and Janet also served multiple terms as ACC officers and contributed to local kennel clubs wherever work relocations took them. Dan judged Chesapeakes, Goldens and Novice and Open obedience, and Janet was approved for Novice obedience.

Dan died in 1992 at age 76. Janet won Best Veteran at her last ACC national a few months before her death in 2000. 

However, personal endorsements didn’t have the impact of field trial wins. The Brittany’s street cred hung on its acceptance by Pointer/Setter loyalists. Although AKC classified it as a spaniel, they considered it a field trial pointing breed. In 1936, Louis sent Fenntus to Joubert, who was then living in Detroit. He entered her in an upcoming trial where she placed second. The following year she became the first Brittany to defeat Pointers and Setters at a field trial. This was an amateur stake, but the point was made. Henry Stackpole writing in 1949 said “the Brittany has a prominent place in the American sporting scene…There are several field trials for these dogs but fanciers do not hesitate to enter them against Pointers and Setters, especially in shooting stakes where excessive range is not desirable.” In 1939, Michigan’s first all-Brittany Stake drew 14 entries. Louis died that year at age 79.


From the July 2012 issue of Dogs In Review magazine. Purchase the July 2012 digital back issue or subscribe to receive 12 months of Dogs In Review magazine.

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