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A Super Family
"The Bradshaw Family of Superintendents, which has long been an intrinisic part of the West Coast show scene, celebrates its centennial in the sport". By: Kim Thornton - Reprinted with permission from the American Kennel Gazette, October 1998

Jack Sr.

The founder of the Bradshaw dynasty, Jack Sr., was a man of his times, often taking on the role of judge, superintendent and exhibitor all at one show.

In the grand scheme of things, a century is but the blink of an eye. But when we focus on a single section of the wheel of time and magnify an era, we find that a century can encompass four generations of a family. When those four generations have spent their lives in dogs, the passing of a century seems even more remarkable. In the sport of dogs, which has existed in the United States for less than 150 years, such a family is celebrating a centennial: California's Bradshaw clan, whose family business, Jack Bradshaw Dog Shows, is one of the oldest superintendent organizations in the country. The man who started it all was John Bradshaw (Jack to his friends), an English dog man who made his way to the United States at the tail end of the 19th century - a time of yellow journalism, the sinking of the Maine and the addition of French Bulldogs to the list of AKC-registered breeds. Bradshaw was an all rounder in the dog game. One of the earliest written records that mentions him is the official catalog of the fourth annual San Francisco Kennel Club show, which took place in May of 1900. In it, Bradshaw is listed as assistant ring steward and judge for trick classes.

Like his father, Jack Jr. was a man of many hats, who loved dogs and was not afraid to show it.

In those early years, dog shows were freer in form than they are today. It was not unusual for one man to wear a number of hats - judge, superintendent and exhibitor, for example - at a single show, and Bradshaw was a man of his times. The breeds he exhibited included Airedale Terriers, Welsh Terriers, Smooth Fox Terriers, Bull Terriers, Chow Chows, Bulldogs and Collies. Hanging in the family office in Los Angeles is a portrait of Sound End Sombrero, a white Bull Terrier with whom Bradshaw once won Best in Show at San Francisco's Golden Gate Kennel Club show. "My grandfather showed dogs, bought dogs, imported and exported dogs, and was involved with all aspects of the sport of dogs," says Bradshaw's grandson, the third of his line to bear the name Jack. "That included working with clubs and putting on dog shows."

Jack Sr. and Jr. share a moment away from the crowd at one of the many shows they superintended. According to friends, Jack Jr. loved to sit around and tell stories about dogs.
From Boston, where he first lived when he arrived in the United States in 1898, Bradshaw headed west to California. Although no one is certain, family records indicate the first show Bradshaw superintended was a singlebreed specialty in Los Angeles in 1898. Bradshaw's influence on West Coast dog showing stretched 5,000 miles across the Pacific to Hawaii, where he went in the years before World War I to help the Honolulu Kennel Club organize dog shows. Thus began a supeintending business that has continued to this day, growing and changing along with the sport of dogs.

As exhibiting dogs became more popular, dog shows became more formalized. In 1917, the AKC began requiring that superintendents be licensed and that they limit their activities to superintending. According to records found in AKC archives, Bradshaw was licensed as a superintendent in 1919, which meant that he had to give up judging and exhibiting. But that did not mean he was any less busy. Then, as now, superintendents had many responsibilities. To hear AKC Board Chairman David Merriam tell it, those responsibilities included some tasks that modern-day superintendents are no doubt glad have fallen by the wayside.

"Years and years ago," says Merriam, "I was doing some research on the Kennel Club of Santa Cruz and discovered that back in the early 1920s, people could ship their dogs to the superintendent to be shown at the show. The superintendent would receive the dog at the train station, take it to the show, arrange for a handler and then ship the dog back. I mentioned that to [the current] Jack and he just shuddered."

Although arranging for dogs to be shown is no longer on the roster of a superintendent's duties, the Bradshaws have experienced many of the ways in which the job has expanded with the advent of more and bigger shows. In 1964, when Jack number three joined the family business - after earning a degree in political science from the University of Southern California and serving three years as a naval officer the job included typing IDs on a manual typewriter and hand-stamping armbands. Catalogs were typeset by hand on a linotype machine.

Today everything is faster, automated, computerized. Telephones and fax machines facilitate last-minute entries. Two Hamada presses capable of printing 9,000 sheets per hour handle the organization's printing needs. A folder, a stitcher and a trimmer speed the assembling of brochures, and catalogs are bound. A desktop publishing system allows the family to generate camera-ready copy for its publications. Doing their own printing is more cost-effective and it gives the Bradshaws more control over their work than would using outside vendors, who are not always anxious to take on dog-show publications.

A new Web site (www.jbradshaw.com) is only the most recent way the Bradshaws have kept pace with new technology and harnessed it for their needs. Computer-literate exhibitors can visit the site to find premium lists, a list of upcoming shows, judging schedules with breakdowns for current shows, entry, blanks, forms for transfer to Best-of- Breed competition, mailing-list request forms and cancellation forms.


Technology is all well and good, but it is not what most people think of when they are asked what is special about the Bradshaw family. What comes to mind is their personable natures. Of course, not many people are around whose memories stretch as far back as the original Jack, but there are some who have fond memories of his son, the second Jack Bradshaw, who loved nothing more than sitting around telling stories.

"He was one of the greatest storytellers since Will Rogers," says Vern Johnson of the Santa Ana Valley Kennel Club in Santa Ana, Calif. "He loved to sit and talk, and he always had some kind of anecdote. He was a really outgoing person." It was perhaps this outgoing personality that led Jack Jr. to publish Dog Craft magazine as a way of keeping dog people up to date. Dog Craft, which was discontinued after the start of World War II, featured such items as reports on shows and articles by judges.

Like his father, Jack Jr. had a great love for dogs and was not afraid to show it. "I have a very vivid memory of him at a show out in the desert area of California during the summer," says Merriam. "There was a Boxer in distress because of the heat. Jack retrieved the overheated dog from its crate and carried it to the vet, and tears were streaming down his face. I suppose what that says is that within the Bradshaw tradition is a very great commitment to the sport and to dogs. The key to the Bradshaws' [success] is their integrity. They are absolutely reliable in applying all the AKC rules and regulations. Everyone knows that when you deal with the Bradshaws, you're going to be treated appropriately, equally and with a very businesslike sense."

Claire Bradshaw, wife of Jack Jr., was known for her giving and spirited nature.
That businesslike sense may have best been exemplified by Jack Jr.'s wife, Claire, who took an active role in the family business and had a vivid personality. Judge Dorothy Macdonald's first memories of Claire date back to Macdonald's days as an exhibitor. "When I was exhibiting," recalls Macdonald, "I remember Claire solving problems instantly in her own very forthright manner. Claire was anything but shy."

For example, at one time Johnson was showing a bitch who would get carsick. "This was before the days of motor homes, when we all drove in station wagons," says Johnson. "Every morning when I would get to a show, the bitch would have thrown up all over herself. Finally I asked Claire if she could schedule me an hour or so after 8 a.m., so we didn't have to go in the ring immediately. She was really nice about it, and every time I would see her at a show, she'd say, 'Well, how is Seasick Bitch?'"

That type of assistance with scheduling is something the Bradshaws like to help with when they can, but it is not always possible given the vast numbers of exhibitors and breeds. "Right now," Bradshaw says, "a lot of exhibitors have more than one breed, so they don't want to have any time conflict with, say, Border Terriers and Australian Shepherds. Well, with more than 140 different breeds, it is difficult when many exhibitors don't want to have a conflict between their breeds." But according to the people who rely on them, whatever the problem may be, the Bradshaws always give their best shot at finding a solution.

One such person is longtime dog-show photographer Joan Ludwig, a close friend to three generations of Bradshaws, who has snapped dog pictures since 1938. "When I get lost and don't know who I have shot, they find out for me," she says. "Sometimes I get away from a show and haven't written down all the armband numbers, so I don't know who the people are or what the win is, but if they can be of help, they certainly try."

All-breed judge Jean Fancy is another of the many who consider the Bradshaws friends as well as business associates. She is especially fond of Bradshaw's wife, Marion, with whom she has made pomander balls at shows. "They are like family," Fancy says, praising them for being well organized and easy to work with.


The Bradshaws need the organizational skills of a Border Collie to cope with the recent growth in dog shows, which have expanded both in number and size. Earlier in the century, some shows had large entries, but they were few and far between. Now there are back to-back shows, three-day weekends, and circuits. Other factors are the increasing number of novices entering the sport, the expansion of obedience and the introduction of the fast-growing sport of agility.

All these things put an additional burden on superintendents. "They used to do a show and then have two or three months before the next one," Macdonald says. "Now they have to be closing one show while they're putting together the show for the coming weekend." In fact, the Bradshaws superintend more than 70 all-breed shows each year (not including specialties), which is more than enough to keep them busy.

A typical day at a show for the Bradshaws begins early. They arrive at the show site by 7 a.m. to set up and get ready for transfers to Best of Breed. They hand out the ring stewards' prepacked tote bags with include judges' books, ribbons, armbands, clipboards, rubberbands, pens and pencils. Sometimes they perform ring setup and takedown, which means arriving a day or two before the show. Once the show begins, they are available to answer questions and solve problems for exhibitors.

From left to right: Johnny Shoemaker, Jack number three and wife Marion keep things on track at the Shoreline Dog Fanciers in Long Beach Calif.
Some of the problems brought to them are astounding. Bradshaw recalls the benched show at which an exhibitor asked to be excused because her house was on fire. Of course, permission was granted. Later, when it was noticed that she had not left, the exhibitor was asked why she was still there. "Well, my dog went Best of Breed," she replied. More recently, a husband and wife leaving for a dog show each thought the other had loaded the dog into the car. When they arrived, they discovered the dog had been left behind. Unfortunately, says Jack, the show had to go on without them.

Problems aside, Bradshaw cannot think of anything else he would rather be doing. He enjoys the opportunity to work at different places with different people. Yesterday we were in Pasadena; the week before we were at the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds in Pomona, California. There are also different phases. We're working on getting a premium list ready for publication for a dog show in a few months, and we're about ready to close entries for another show. A lot of things are happening at the same time, so it's interesting."


Working with family members is another positive aspect of the family business, one that Bradshaw describes as both fun and challenging. "Sometimes it's difficult to get along with family members, just as it's difficult to get along with nonfamily members, " he says. "But other times it has been very gratifying." Joining him in the family business are his wife, Marion, his son, John, his daughters, Julie, Susan and Eloise, and his sister, Barbara, all of whom are licensed superintendents.

In May, the clan gathered for a reception celebrating the company's centennial at the Kennel Club of Pasadena's California Classic. All four of Jack and Marion's grandchildren - the fifth generation - were there, and Jack's sister flew in from Florida. Gathering to congratulate the Bradshaws were club members, exhibitors and judges - a veritable who's who in California dog shows.

On display were catalogs dating as far back as 1908, issues of Dog Craft, old ribbons and judges' badges from now-defunct clubs such as the Catalina Kennel Club (now the Tucson Kennel Club) and the Culver City Kennel Club, as well as photos of Pasadena shows from days gone by. "The reception was extremely well received," says Johnson. "It brought back a lot of memories for a lot of people." The celebration also brought back memories for Julie Bradshaw Draper, who is the family's business office manager. "The Kennel Club of Pasadena has had their show at the same location for years, and I remember running along the rocks and doing all the things that my daughter was doing this very weekend," she says. "I am sure that my parents were telling me to get off the rocks, just as I was telling her." Draper, who grew up going to dog shows, says it is an unusual weekend when she is not at one. Her early memories of assisting at shows include taking ribbons to rings and wishing she could serve as a ring steward, which she was finally permitted to do when she was about 14.

The Bradshaws enjoyed a special celebration this year at the Kennel Club of Pasadena. Top row from left to right. Adam Van Dyke, Susan Van Dyke, John Bradshaw, Jill Sidran, Marty Draper and Jimmy Draper. Middle row: Barbara Bradshaw, Eloise Bradshaw, Marion Bradshaw, Jack Bradshaw and Julie Bradshaw Draper. Bottom row. Evan Van Dyke, Claire Draper and Olivia Van Dyke.

Draper remembers her grandmother, Claire, as a woman with a lot of spunk who always wanted to know the ins and outs of everything. "She was not a soft old grandmother," Draper says. "She had a lot of charisma, and professionally she was really quite spirited. I would come home from dog shows and tell her what happened just the straight facts. And she would say, 'No, no, no, what's the scoop? What's the dirt?'"

With memories like that, it is not surprising that Draper chose to join the family business after graduating from the University of California at San Diego with a degree in history. Getting to see all the shows come together is the most rewarding aspect of her job. "You do so much preparatory work in the office, and when you go to the shows and see the people you've worked for, you get all the kudos from the exhibitors and the clients," she says.

When Draper married, her husband was skeptical at first about her job. "He thought it was crazy. He couldn't imagine it was that big a business, that it was seriously a 9-to-5 job in addition to every weekend," she says with a laugh. But her children appear to have dog shows in their blood as well. Draper says her daughter, Claire, named after her grandmother, loves to sit and watch groups. "She'll walk right up to the dogs and wants to pet them and feed them and do the whole thing. They both just love it."

Draper believes that Jack Bradshaw Dog Shows will still be a family business in another 100 years. Although dog shows have changed over the years, at the core, she says, they are still the same type of people showing the same breeds of dogs. "There aren't many businesses where people know your grandparents more than they know you. There's an instant comfort and trust level because they know exactly where you came from," she says.

Vern Johnson echoes Draper's sentiments, and he ought to know. Bradshaws have been superintending the Santa Ana Valley Kennel Club's shows since the very first one. The club's 85th show is scheduled for this fall. "That's almost 50 years of shows," Johnson says. "It is a family thing, and you can feel close to them. They definitely do a job for you. If you have any, kind of problem, they're right there and able to solve it for you. They've always got time to talk to you."

That kind of tradition, David Merriam says, is remarkable but indicative of the sport. "That adds a great deal of strength to us," he says. Although the Bradshaws' longevity in the dog game is certainly worthy of recognition, simply because so few shows or anything else goes back that far, the Bradshaws' peers recognize the family's many achievements during their 100-year span in the fancy. "They are a great organization and a great family, caring and devoted to dogs and people," Dorothy Mcdonald says. "It is an outstanding record."

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