For over seventy two years, the Hanover Kennel Club has provided dog lovers of the Cape Fear Coast with fellowship and friendly competition while engaged in the promotion of purebred dogs in the community.  The Hanover Kennel Club has remained, since its inception, a close knit group, sharing not only an interest in dogs, but a warm friendship with one another.  The club members work together to produce a show which is relaxed and enjoyable, in true Southern style. 

The first organizational meeting of the kennel club was held on May 19, 1938, under the name “Cape Fear Kennel Club.”  O.O. Whitlock was elected president, and a show was planned that was “open not only to purebred dogs but to dogs of mixed breed, to be judged for their attractions as pets.”  Dog show superintendent Edgar A. Moss spoke to the group about the growing interest in dog shows in the Carolinas, as well as local facilities that would be suitable for an annual show. 

On June 15, 1938, the newspaper announced a meeting of the “recently organized New Hanover Kennel Club,” to be held at the Chamber of Commerce Building for “all owners and lovers of dogs.”

From the gap in recorded history, one can make the assumption that local dog club activities were put on the back burner during the World War II years.  No doubt, working at the shipyard or serving in the armed forces pre-empted leisure activities like dog shows in Wilmington, as elsewhere in this country.

On March 5, 1948, Dr I. G. Cashell called a meeting in the Lake Forest Community Building “to discuss regular dog shows in the city.” On March 16, 1948, local news reported that Dr. Cashell was elected president of the “Hanover Kennel Club.”

The first sanctioned match was held on July 10, 1948 at the Community Center, to begin fulfilling the AKC requirements to be eligible to hold a point show.   “All purebred dogs may be entered, with or without papers or registration.”  Mr. and Mrs. Applewhite “volunteered their services to persons interested in learning how to show a dog.”  This first match was judged by the Sanford Cosbys of Greensboro, NC, and a second (December 1948) by Mr. Haywood Hartley of Roanoke, Va.  (According to club history, Mr. Hartley was selected to judge Best in Show at the 20th anniversary all breed show, as well.  )

News reports from July 13, 1948 state “a black cocker spaniel and a miniature Schnauzer from Germany walked off with top honors in the first major all-breed dog show held in Wilmington, staged by the Hanover Kennel Club.” 

Hanover Kennel Club held its first all breed dog show on November 8, 1949, with Mr. J. F.  Applewhite, Jr.  as show chairman.  There were 263 dogs entered, with TWO judges presiding, Col. Frank Foster Davis and Mr. Billy Lang.  The American Kennel Club representative was Mr. Al Dick, who later became president of the AKC.  Best in Show at this inaugural event was Boston Terrier, Ch Clasen’s Mel-O-Nee Maid.

The 20th Anniversary Show marked another “first” for Hanover Kennel Club, the first obedience trial.  Obedience Trial Chairman was Mrs. Florence “Fluff” Applewhite, wife of the first show chairman and club founder.  Our last obedience trail was held in 2001 on the campus of UNC-Wilmington.

 At the 20 year mark, club president was Miss Anne Green (Saus).  Mr. Scott Singleton was show chairman of the 20th show. 

From the beginning, through 1971, Hanover Kennel Club held a single show each year, in Wilmington, NC.  The first show site was the National Guard Armory on Carolina Beach Road.  In 1967 and 1968, the shows were held at the Lumina Pavilion, oceanfront at Wrightsville Beach.  In 1969, the Municipal Parking Deck, riverfront on Water Street, became the show site, until 1984, when motor home parking became an issue at the downtown site, and the shows moved to the well maintained fields of Legion Stadium, where they continue today.

In 1972, Hanover KC began holding 2 shows a year.  In 1981 and 1982, Hanover held one of its shows in Lumberton, NC in the Cooperative Warehouse in October.  In 1982-1990, Hanover clustered with the Myrtle Beach and Charleston Kennel Clubs in Feb for shows in the Convention Center there, always holding our second show at home in the fall.   

Mr. Edgar A. Moss assisted the club in the beginning & superintended our first show.  Other superintendents for the Hanover Kennel club shows include Mansfield Dog Shows in 1964 and Webb Dog Shows in 1965 and 1966.  Moss Dog Shows superintended the 20th anniversary show in 1968.  In 1971, Hanover Kennel Club is noted to have used the services of Moss Bow Dog Shows, and continued with Moss Bow-Foley (MB-F) from 1980 until the present.  Hanover Kennel Club owes a debt of gratitude for the superintending services of these organizations. 

No matter the entry numbers, the location, or the players, Hanover Kennel Club has remained dedicated to the promotion of the purebred dogs and to each other!  Our fondest hope is that the next 72 years will be as enjoyable as the past!

*The Hanover Kennel Club expresses their appreciation to Local History Librarian, Joseph Sheppard, for his assistance in preparing this article from the archives of the Bill Reaves Collection, New Hanover County Public Library.  The articles quoted appeared in the Wilmington News, Star News, and the Wilmington Post.