Westminster is not just an impressive dog show. The show, held in Madison Square Garden in Manhattan, New York, follows the annual Dog Writers Association of America's meeting and awards banquet. The Dog Writers Association of America, also known as D.W.A.A., is an organization that was formed in 1935, in conjunction with the Westminster Kennel Club. D.W.A.A. members address all facets of the writing, graphics, media and publishing fields.
The members are respected and talented. It became an annual tradition for the D.W.A.A. members to meet before they attended, and write about this very special, spectacular Westminster dog show.
Sensitive to the needs of the press, the ever courteous Westminister Kennel Club provides writers and photographers from all over the United States with a press room and amenities.
The room, near the show rings, is furnished with modern hook-ups, programs, schedules, pastries, soda and most important, coffee. A glimpse into the press room at Westminister would provide you with a good look at columnists from The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, the Washington Post, Off Lead and many others. Of course, some of the most impressive dog writers known to man can also be found taking a break in that room. In only a few minutes I heard so many war stories (Or should I call them "war tails"?) that I felt that I had enough material for a whole new book!
D.W.A.A.'s annual writing contest culminates at the banquet. The charming president, Chris Walkowicz, presents the Maxwell awards. Medals are given to those dog writers who, in the estimation of the judges, have drawn, written, or filmed the most outstanding work in the past year. If one is fortunate enough to be nominated for a coveted Maxwell Award, it is definitely an honor. The Maxwell medal is a beautiful reminder that ones work is appreciated by his or her peers. The Maxwell, as well as many other special awards, is given at the banquet just before the Westminister Kennel Club show begins.
Off Lead was nominated for a Maxwell for the second year in a row. Not only were we nominated, but we won! We were lauded as the "Best Special Interest Magazine" for 2001. Since we won a Maxwell last year, I can't tell you how thrilled I was to win two years in a row. I say we, because without the wonderful work that all of the Off Lead authors submit, there would be no magazine.
Barkleigh Productions, the publishers of Off Lead, also garnered a Maxwell for their Groom O Gram as best pamphlet for 2001! (I happen to author the Groom O Gram, so I am especially pleased).
In addition to all of this, Toni and Ed Eames won a Maxwell for their column "Team Talk", that is published in Off Lead! This was "two years in a row" for the Eames'. They received a medal last year for a wonderful educational video that they created.
Martin Deeley won a special award from Off Lead for his article, "Training Just an Ordinary Hunting Dog", Off Lead July/August 2001. Martin also deserves an award for keeping me from having a nervous breakdown that evening.
Captain Haggerty, the ever staunch Captain Haggerty, brought down the house with a standing ovation when he won the Elsworth S. Howell Award for an article titled "Morris and Essex Redux", published in the German Shepherd Dog Review. All in all, it was a rewarding evening for nearly everyone. I was very proud to see that the panel of judges, composed of other dog writers, appreciated all of the hard work that all of us have put into this magazine.
Thank you D.W.A.A. judges. I am even more grateful to the writers and artists who make this magazine the winner that it is.