In the late 1950s, a dedicated group of English Springer Spaniel owners enjoyed getting together informally to train and show their dogs. Several of them decided to start a Specialty Club for Springers only. In 1957, the club was formally recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC). The AKC required clubs to be named after the part of the state where most of the members resided. Thus, the Puget Sound English Springer Spaniel Association came into being. The founders were Lillian Bingham, Tillie Elsner, Janelle Hodgkins, Daisy Lilley and Lucille Schwede. Their spouses were also quite involved. The club’s main goal was to promote and protect the English Springer Spaniel and to maintain the integrity of the breed. They all firmly believed in keeping the breed active not only in the show ring, but obedience and hunting activities.
One of the first fundraising activities for the new club was to conduct obedience training classes for Springer Spaniels. These classes were taught by Joe Lilley and held at the lumber yard that he owned. Several of the Springers from that first class went on to earn obedience titles. The men of the club also formed an obedience team consisting of four handlers and dogs who competed in many local dog shows.
The first Specialty show for Springers only was held in conjunction with the Olympic Kennel Club in August of 1958. There were a total of 18 Springers entered and it was held in Renton Washington. The members of the club were all involved in conducting the Specialties and other club activities. Regular field training events were held where the dogs and owners would practice their hunting skills. This club has always prided itself on having members with dogs who could “do it all”. The club was one of the first to conduct Working Certificate Tests sponsored by the Parent Club.
The club continued to grow through the 1960s and 1970s. The first independent specialty was held in 1970. This was a big step for the club. Just two years later, in 1972, PSESSA was the host club for the English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association's (ESSFTA) national specialty show. This is a huge undertaking and the members responded well by hosting a very successful show. In 1978, the club was approved to hold Obedience Classes with their Specialty shows.
As membership and activities continued to grow, the club had regular monthly meetings, a monthly Newsletter, educational programs and field training activities. In 1982, PSESSA moved its show site to our current grounds in Olympia, Washington. Also, that year marked the hosting of another successful National Specialty. Springer fanciers all over the country still think fondly of this beautiful setting for an outdoor show.
When the AKC started the Hunting Test program, we were in on the ground floor. We held one of the first tests and continue to hold them every year. We were instrumental in helping the AKC film the Hunt Test video here in Washington state.
The PSESSA is the only English Springer Spaniel club in the western part of the US to host four ESSFTA National Specialty shows (1972, 1982, 1992, and 2002). We are actively planning our fifth time hosting the National Specialty show which will be held in 2016 in Monroe, WA.
We are very proud of our club and its efforts to protect our beloved English Springer Spaniels over the years. Our traditions, history and hard working members have made this club the success that it is today.
The 1960 PSESSA obedience drill team.
The Obedience Class in 1960
Daisy Lilley handling Future Champion Geiger's Winaway Duke at a fun match judged by Jim Hall.
This dog was Winners Dog and Best of Winners at PSESSA's first Specialty in 1958, and won Best of Breed in 1959.
Joe Lilley and Checotah Mick winning High in Trial at the first Specialty show in 1958.
The Best of Breed class at the ESSFTA National Specialty show in 1972,
hosted by the PSESSA.
The winner of the 1972 ESSFTA National Specialty was Champion Magill's Patrick, CD, WDX. Shown here on the cover of the "Springer Bark" handled by Eldon McCormack and judge Bea Brown, Patrick was owned by and bred by Wayne and Phyllis Magill.
The 1982 ESSFTA National Specialty show banner.
This was the second time the PSESSA hosted the National Specialty.
Proud springers and their owners
who earned Working Dog titles in 1993.