Morris and Essex Dog Show

There never really has been any show in the world which compared with the original Morris and Essex. It all began when Marcellus Hartley Dodge decided to give his wife a sizable cash gift every year for their anniversary. Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge decided to use the money to put on her own dog show. She formed the Morris and Essex Dog Club, but it’s only real purpose was to host her show and Mrs. Dodge called all the shots. Morris and Essex was the biggest and best of everything. It was larger than Westminster and Crufts. It offered more sterling silver trophies than any other show and they were coupled with sizable cash prizes.

Along with Westminster (which was not restricted to champions only, in those days), Morris and Essex was the big "coming out" show. Breeders would hold back dogs with star potential so they could make their debut at either Morris and Essex or Westminster.
(See my note below about the 1948 M&E video.)

Since I don’t have time to write about Morris and Essex now, I’d like to suggest some links for you.

“Morris and Essex Redux,” by the late Captain Haggerty, first appeared in the German Shepherd Dog Review. While it talks about the rebirth of M&E, in 2000, there’s tons of info on the old show.

Arthur Frederick Jones’ report on the 1938 show which appeared in the American Kennel Gazette.

From the Time Magazine archives, here’s the 1941 report: “Mrs. Dodge’s Dog Show.”


Mrs. Dodge hired people to make films of all the Morris and Essex shows. I don’t know what became of those. Other filmmakers shot footage at the show for the newsreels which were shown in movie theaters. Below are links which show snippets of those:

1933 Morris & Essex

1935 Morris & Essex

1938 Morris & Essex

1948 Morris & Essex

Dog folks will undoubtedly be impressed with the Bedlington shown on the 1948 clip who wins Best in Show. Darn, he still looks good today. This was the two-year-old Ch. Rock Ridge Night Rocket, who goes down in my book as one of the greatest show dogs of all time. Timmie, as he was known, made his show ring debut at the 1947 Morris and Essex where he came from the classes to win Best in Show. During the remainder of 1947 and early 1948 he would be entered in 21 shows. He placed in the group in all but one of those shows, scoring nine Group Ones and seven Bests in Show. He capped the year by winning Best in Show at the 1948 Westminster and then retired. Timmie came out of retirement for the 1948 Morris and Essex, making that his 23rd show, where he again scored Best in Show. This time he was permanently retired. He would go on to sire 36 champions and his name can be found in the pedigrees of almost every dog from American lines.

Timmie was owned by Mr. and Mrs. William A. Rockefeller, but credit for the Bedlington really belongs to the kennel manager and Timmie’s handler Anthony Neary. A coal miner, actually born in Bedlington, England, Neary and his wife, Anne, came to this country in 1930. While the first Bedlington was registered in the stud books back in 1883, it wasn’t until the Nearys came to the US that the Bedlington really got much attention. The couple dedicated themselves to seeing that Americans learned about the breed. Along with Dr. Charles J. McAnulty, they organized the first meeting of the Bedlington Terrier Club of America, which was held at the 1932 Morris and Essex show.