Dog Writer's Association of America Writing Competition

Monday, February 01, 2016 12:30 AM | Front & Finish (Administrator)

Written by Marilyn Miller

The Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA) was established on Feb. 13, 1935 during a meeting at the Westminster Kennel Club in New York City. The club began with eight dues-paying members. Sports writers, journalists, and other writers who covered dog shows for the sports pages of newspapers were included. There are now close to seven hundred members. One mission of this organization is to encourage quality writing about different dog events and the benefits of the companionship of dogs.

 Members write about all aspects of the dog world. These include: training, showing, health issues, behavior, performance events, and the animal-human bond. In addition to journalists, photographers, artists, mystery and fiction writers are now eligible to become members. Also veterinarians, poets, and historians. David Frei has been a member for years and always appears on the televised Westminster Kennel Club  Dog Show as a commentator. Other professional interests members enjoy are social networking, videography, website production and blogging.

 I have been a member of DWAA since 1992. When I applied for membership I had to submit three articles that had been published in three different publications in the same month. I sent one article from "Dog World" magazine, one from the "Winthrop Sun Transcript" (for which I wrote my weekly "Dog Gone It!" column for twenty years) and one from "Front and Finish".

 For several years I attended the WKC show as a member of the working press. I had my official press card, press badge, access to the press box at the show and free entry to the press room and hospitality suites where judges, handlers, owners of the champions, and  dog writers could socialize. The hospitality suites were also where new friendships were made.

 The last three years I was asked to be one of the judges for the annual writing competition. Three judges evaluate each category. There were 48 categories this year and many hundreds of entries. Non-members may enter also. I have been able to choose the categories I want to judge in the past which are obedience work, Therapy Dogs, and Rally. This year I was assigned to judge Reference Books. I had six books to read. It was interesting for a change of pace. Some of the categories included: Rescue, Dog Art, Behavior and Training, Health or General care, and Newspaper and Magazine articles and columns. Any dog-related article may be submitted. Other items which are judged include humor, poetry, short fiction, video, radio or tv broadcasts. Club publications, article, club special publications and books. The list goes on and on.

 There are also "Special Awards" with cash grants given. A few of these are: the AKC Club publication Excellent Award, AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Public Service Award, "Angel On A Leash"  Award for a Therapy Dog article, the Designated Dog Award (Service Dogs), and the Captain Haggarty Award for the Best Training Book or article, etc.A banquet is held every year in NYC where the coveted Maxwell Awards are given out to the winning writers and publications.

 The Maxwell Award is named after Maxwell Riddle, former president of the DWAA who helped found the organization in 1935. The DWAA Banquet is held every year the Sunday before the WKC Dog Show (the day before). This year the banquet will be a day long event (for the first time). A new seminar will be included along with a banquet lunch instead of the usual dinner. This will be held at the Hotel Pennsylvania, directly across the street from Madison Square Garden. Some of the sponsors for the dinner and awards include: AKC Star Puppy, Angel on a Leash, Planet Dog Foundation, Designated Dog, Canine Good Citizen, Purina Pro Plan, Dog Wise, Merial, North Shore Animal League and Association of Pet Dog Trainers.

 Unfortunately I will not be attending the Banquet or the WKC Dog Show this year, but it is an honor for me to be a member of this organization whose entire membership focuses on the same interest as I do - DOGS !

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