About GSDA of WA

The German Shepherd Dog Association of Western Australia (Inc) was founded in the late 1950’s. Here is a short breed history and club background relevant to this State.
Memories of a senior club member :
How many of our members remember the “good old days” of pre 1976? What is the significance of December 24th, 1976 to us “oldies”? For us, it was not D Day, but GSD DAY! What a wonderful Christmas present, to have the Government ban on the importation of entire German Shepherd Dogs lifted! We were finally able to own, train, show and breed the dog of our dreams, the German Shepherd Dog! Yes, dear new member, you guessed it. Prior to that date, there was a complete ban on unsterilized German Shepherd Dogs in this State!
Let’s delve a little into our History of the G.S.D.A. of W.A. (Inc).
The first official and pedigreed imports into Australia were recorded between 1923 and 1929. Only incomplete records are available to substantiate stories that before this time, four of these so called Alsatian Wolf Hounds had entered Western Australia in 1904. At the 40th Convention of the Graziers ‘Federal Council of Australia, held in Adelaide on the 20th – 22nd of June 1927, it was passed unanimously that:
The Commonwealth Authorities be requested to prohibit the importation or breeding of Alsatian Dogs.
This quickly became Commonwealth law, but searching through dusty records of old newspaper clippings, one last mention of our beloved breed before in State after State the GSD came under the knife, with breeding permitted in some areas, a total ban in others.
An excerpt from THE FANCIER about the Kennel Club’s Annual Show:
The fourteenth Annual Show of the W.A. Kennel Club was held in Goldsworthy’s Hall, Catherine St. Subiaco, yesterday. ( 1927, the exact date was not mentioned) The Secretary, Mr J Williams, said: “The display of various breeds was excellent”, and that the quality of animals entered for the show was far superior to that of previous years. Entries were exceptionally large in the Fox Terrier, Alsatian, Airedale, Collie, Bulldog, Cocker Spaniel, Pomeranian and Pekinese section.
The Alsatian was well represented in WA. as the controversy raged on.
“Country people may well live in dread of these wolfish animals ever taking to the bush like the Dingo” or in another letter: “It has also been said that the Alsatian has been known to worry human beings. What breed of dogs has not worried human beings?”
In 1929, the Federal Government imposed the infamous BAN.
In some areas the GSD was totally prohibited. In others they had to be de-sexed and muzzled. Harsh draconian laws swept the land for the GSD. In some states, breeding and exhibiting still flourished. Luckily there were enough German Shepherd Dogs in Australia for the dedicated breeders in the Eastern States to keep the breed growing strong. There were problems, of course, as without any new blood; we ended up with a strongly inbred strain. The dark years of the ban shroud the breed in mystery, records lost, and early dogs simply forgotten.
In WA. the new “Alsatian Dog Act” came into force in 1962.
All GSDs had to be de-sexed, but at least we were permitted to import from the Eastern States, and own them, registered with the Agricultural Protection Board! Our Club records take us back into the early sixties.
Initially, the G.S.D.A. of W.A., imported sterilized German Shepherd Puppies and club officials checked that the property of the prospective new owner was adequately fenced. It is a little known fact that in those early years, GSD pedigree papers were transferred into the name of the German Shepherd Dog Association. The owners of the pups could then apply to have the pup transferred into their name. The GSDA could approve or disapprove applications to purchase a GSD! The G.S.D.A. of W.A. sent letters to owners of dogs who had been found out in the street unaccompanied!
We take up the tale again when Roy Davies, yes, we know him well, was elected President in 1969. In the records, it is found, that at the 1969 meeting, the Canine Association Secretary, Mr Cobb, was in attendance as a guest to discuss GSDA and Canine Association matters. Shortly after that, the C.A.W.A. granted permission for the GSDA of WA to conduct Obedience Trials for all A & B Class Registered Dogs. (B class was for de-sexed and non-pedigreed dogs) Peter Newell’s dog Kyser was the first GSD in WA. to gain his CD title! Peter was our Head Trainer.
In the year 1970, we had a membership of 388, and the GSDA of WA raised funds and donated $1,200.00 to the Guide Dog Association! Fred Haymes, G.S.D.A. of W.A. Importation Officer, was awarded Life Membership, which he was to lose many years later when he lost his Canine Membership for making disparaging comments at a dog show! Another Life Member, Jack Conrick was very active through the early 70’s and was the driving force behind the purchase and development of our Club Headquarters in Southern River. In these times, the Agricultural Protection Board, APB, sent an officer out to meet every plane that brought in either birds or GSDs!
1971 enter Barry and Carol O’Rourke, who with SIMBA, joined the Demonstration Team. Colin Vagg’s Sheena was one of the great Demo Team’s stars of that era. Colin is our Club Historian and holds the records. Barry became a licenced importer of German Shepherd Dogs. Mid ’71, Honey Gross joined the club. Also joining the club in 1971 was a young John Fenner with his first German Shepherd Dog, Viscount Rebel.
One of the highlights of that year was the Inter-Club Competition where the G.S.D.A. of W.A. was represented by the following:
Utility: Roy Davies and DUKE CDX
Open: Hans Frankenstein & SHEBA CDX Lyall Fairley & TROY CDX
Novice: Dot Parry & Karl Carol O’Rourke & Simba
At a G.S.D.A. of W.A. Graduation that year, 17 out of 54 dogs failed the Stand For Examination! We had temperament problems in those days with all those years of inbreeding, no new blood, no imports.
We had one training ground, Joel Terrace, and an average of around 70 dogs in training every Sunday. The Club conducted 3 Obedience Trials per year, and in 1971, 8 GSDs gained their C.D. title.
Parading Around The Ring!
Around 1972 we were hopeful of the C.A.W.A. granting permission for the GSDs to be exhibited, although sterilized, at sanctioned shows, thanks to Barry O’Rourke’s tireless efforts and negotiations with the Canine Association and the RAS.
Breed Affairs Committee nominations showed that Peter Newell moved that Barry O’Rourke be elected onto the Committee to hold the position of show coordinator. Some years later in 1980, his wife Carol, was to become the West Coast Challenge Show coordinator, a position she still holds today with only a small break while Carol was studying to become a Conformation Judge!
Carol and Simba gained their CDX, Barry and Kaiser (Boom Boom Boom) trialled at CD level. ( Boom boom boom? Barry reckoned Obedience Training was easy and he was going to get his title in three trials, boom, boom, boom, and guess what? Barry received the nickname of Boom Boom!)
1972 saw the first GSD Parade with Mrs Mel French adjudicating and Paul Wilkes, now an All Breeds Judge of many years’ standing, was one of the Stewards!
Best Exhibit: Barry O’Rourke’s Kaiser, Best Opposite: H.Eisbjerg’s Sheba
There is a faded photo floating around somewhere of Best Veteran: Honey Gross’ Rex of Selby. The Dobermann Club’s Ann Beck won a prize with her imported Jugoland bitch!
On the National Scene, the G.S.D.A. of W.A. sent congratulations to Bratara Kennels for LC Donald’s success with Aust. CH. Horand Prince Huzzar on winning the Royal Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne and Brisbane as well as winning the first G.S.D.C.A. NATIONAL SHOW!
The GSDA initially had Fred Haymes and Jack Conrick, both to become Life Members later on, as importers. Next came Barry O’Rourke, and the three of them made many a trip to the
airport and to the Agricultural Department to have their puppies tattooed by non-other than Ric Richardson, today still tattooing! There was only one importer outside the G.S.D.A. OF W.A. and most of “his puppies” too, came training at the club. Schutzhund training was only occasionally mentioned, and we persuaded the interested parties that this type of work is definitely NOT in the best interest of the breed in Australia at present.
We wanted THE BAN lifted, softly does it! The Federal Ban went ’73.
1974 saw O’Rourke’s and Dot Parry’s imported Eng. Ch Kingsmans Witchcraft win the National, and a few years down the track, Barry and Carol purchased another English import that was to become a local pillar of the breed, and today still found in many pedigrees all over this beautiful country of ours, CH. Volscain Jester. It is his daughter, the lovely CH. Duval Royal Velvet who “made” Landrina and Tashrodan kennels, and we all applauded the success of Victorian Judge and Breed Surveyor, Mrs Anita Pettenhofer whose Hagenstolz kennel still produces “the goods”, with stock carrying the National and Main Breed Show winning WA bred bitch, Ch. Landrina Majic Melody BS Cl.IA Ex Sel.
Scratch an Iccara dog and you will most likely find Duval Royal Velvet or at least her sire, Jester, in their blood! Zollern, Scardeburgh, Ameliaberg, Lashadas, Tobarenny, to name but a few, breed with lines that still carry that dash of “English glamour” as we called it before we went to the source – Germany – for type, temperament and enhanced trainability.
On the obedience side, we saw another inter-club competition with Novice class being won by a Mrs Hovey’s Poodle, 2nd: D.Martin, GSD, 3rd R Earnshaw GSD. Open: 1st Fred Cottier & his GSD Honey CD, 2nd: Honey Gross and Rex of Selby CD, 3rd: D Levitzke’s Silky Terrier X cross! What a Victory when that tiny one got its CDX thanks to taking the time to teach the Broad Jump using a bit of psychology instead of brute force on a Silky Terrier!
1974 also saw an Obedience Judges’ course with 20 applicants of whom 5 qualified: Mrs Honey Gross, Mr Fred Cottier (GSD’s), Mrs E and Mr A Robshaw, Poodle owners and Instructors with Perth Training, and Martin Pitt who worked a Great Dane, also an Instructor with the Perth Training and Obedience Dog Club.
Mr. Syd Beeton of the G.S.D.C.A. visited Perth, animated discussions were held with Syd, the Breed Affairs and Executive Committee.
Guess what? Barry O’Rourke, member of the Social Committee and of course, the Breed Affairs Committee, was listed as a Trainer that year!
Honey Gross continued work in the Demonstration Team with Tobarro Dingalara (König), who not only worked in the Demo Team for 6 years, but also made G.S.D.A. of W.A. history by becoming the first Australian Obedience Champion of our breed in Western Australia. 18 years before him, one other dog had attained that title was Linc Sullivan’s Labrador Retriever. With König, the drought had broken, and we took with us a string of other GSDs who over the years, attained this illustrious title. Eventually a Dobermann, a Border Collie, and two Kelpie crosses also qualified, but were called WOCA, Westralian Obedience Champion Associate! What’s in a name of fame? Somehow we never got round to presenting König’s photo for the Hall of Fame. He won many trials, worked very methodical perhaps living up to his Aboriginal name, Dingalara, which we were told means – tortoise, slow and steady! He always worked with great precision, but loved to ham it up for the crowds on occasion! He gained many scores that today would have received the “Excellent” medallion and is immortalized in David O’Reilly’s book “Savage Shadow” where a chapter features him on the Cordering Cougar case.
!976 was to become a milestone year for the G.S.D.A. of W.A. with Colin Vagg as President, John Fenner as Vice President and Ross Winzer as Breed Affairs Chairman.
At the 1976 4th GSD National Show and Trial in Nuriootpa S.A., the W.A. dogs faired extremely well.
Novice Bitch was judged by Mr Riley Wing, (N.T.)
3rd: Jan Stewart & Witherstein Vivonne, 172 5th with a NQ score, was John Knowler with Jaguar Maxiene, 163
Open A Dogs: judged by Mr Garry Dillan (Vic)
2nd: John Fenner & Viscount Rebel UD ET, 193
Open B Dogs: judged by Mr Garry Dillan (Vic)
1st: Bill McIsaac & Jaguar Condor CD 192 5th: Peter Harris & Triola Prince CD 170
Open B Bitches: judged by Mr Garry Dillan (Vic)
4th: Bill McIsaac & Jaguar Jedda CD and in 6th place was Pat Ottobrino & Sheba Marbrae, both NQ.
Utility Dogs: judged by Mr Garry Dillan (Vic)
3rd: John Fenner & Viscount Rebel UD ET, NQ
In the teams event, WA ran a proud 3rd place.
We had already started a Training Ground in Port Hedland and now Roy Davies went up to Tom Price to start another. In Perth, we held Graduations alternatively for Pexton and Joel Terrace.
Also in 1976, the number of GSD importers in W.A. swelled from 4, (With 3 in the Association, one outsider) to 7. Honey Gross-Richardson, Robert Franzen and David Jones became APB Licensed importers.
Victoria had commenced their Breed Survey Scheme, NSW. and SA. had adopted it in principle, WA. was very much in favour – we were looking forward to the lifting of THE BAN!
The foundation bitch of Parourke Kennels, Parry and O’Rourke’s Eng & Aust. Ch.Kingsmens Witchcraft, imported in whelp to Supreme Champion Ramacon Swashbuckler, (UK) living in the East of course, had already produced the vivacious and very glamorous little bitch Parourke Mystical. We could just see her parading with the Demo Team!
In anticipation of the lifting of THE BAN, in W.A., we had lobbied our favourite politicians, were supported strongly by the Club Patrons the Hon. Mr Jim Clarko and Vice Patron, the Mayor of Gosnells Mr A A Mills, and there was hope on the horizon. Thousands of petitions had been signed, all lived in hope.
We looked at our training, knowing that soon, a more dominant dog would strut his stuff at Joel Terrace and all over WA. a dog with hormones and attitude!
Our Obedience results: 44 CD titles, 12 CDX, 2 UD and 5 ET!
YES! The Endurance Test had arrived. The inaugural qualifiers:
John Fenner’s Viscount Rebel UD Honey Gross’ Tobarro Dingalara UD, Rick Richardson’s Stronway Galant CD, John Knowler’s Jaguar Maxine CD and Jan Stewart’s Witherstein Vivonne CD
Obedience was great. There were also 10 Parades for GSDs, 1976 was a busy year! Slowly more and more rumours spread about an unsterilized bitch here, an entire dog there. The law required these animals to be either put down or else immediately sent out of the State. Some people had come across with their pets by car and had not been picked up at the Nullabor, Norseman or Northam Check Points. Occasionally a Vet would ring to report that an entire GSD had been brought in for vaccinations or sterilization. It was AGAINST THE LAW to sterilize a GSD in Western Australia. The poor dog had to be destroyed, or shipped out in order to be desexed! Sometimes, a bitch had to be opened up in order to see whether or not she was desexed according to regulations. When a team of G.S.D.A. of W.A. members was engaged by the R.A.S. to patrol the Show Grounds at Royal Show Time, the dogs had to be muzzled so that the public would not be afraid of these security dogs! Muzzled! Our well behaved, beautifully trained, much loved family pets!
Club membership was about 750, far in excess of any other dog club in WA.
Finally it was GSD DAY! The 24th of November 1976! We were able to bring our dogs across the border unsterilized!
Kingsmans’ Witchcraft came home, Mystical came in officially too. Some were so determined to throw off the yoke of suppression that even tattooing was no longer “in.” It was up to another 5 years before the G.S.D.A. of W.A. officially started tattooing the puppies under the G.S.D.C.A. Scheme.
With the BAN lifted, the number of GSDs increased dramatically. Another two German breeds became VERY popular, the Dobermann and the Rottweiler. With these three powerful breeds and their following of work oriented enthusiastic owners, came the serious upsurge of Schutzhund training in WA. Suddenly obedience was no longer good enough. The German imports all had their training titles of course, and in the Eastern States, we had several Schutzhund Clubs before the two in WA started up.
We had worked very hard to promote obedience. We worked extremely hard to promote our beautiful breed, the German Shepherd Dog. We had demos, hospital visits, Nursery and Kindergarten days where our dogs proved that this breed is gentle and trustworthy, that their teeth were merely for catching balls and sticks and delicately nibbling fleas – bite? Not our GSDs. We were successful in promoting the peaceful image and tractable disposition of the easily trained German Shepherd Dog.
The ban was lifted. Our dogs no longer had to be desexed. They no longer HAD to be on lead at all times. The threat of muzzling laws were ever upon us, but on the whole we were happy in being able to own, breed, train and show our wonderful German Shepherd Dogs.
Now we were actually told by newcomers, men and women who had not had to fight our battles that did not live through the frustration of having their SHOW DOGS DESEXED when they came to WA, that “Canine Obedience kills the dog’s sparkle!” These folks were “newies” who with perhaps 2 or 3 years of dog ownership behind them, had enjoyed a couple of American books on Schutzhund training and fallen in love with the sport. Who wouldn’t? It’s a great sport! However, at a time when we had only just been permitted to import and breed the GSD our aim was “Breed Improvement”, we dreamed of X Ray Schemes to combat HD, of Breed Surveying to help us attain the desired type and temperament. Now we were told by new dog owners who did not have years of successful obedience training under their belts, that a real dog MUST have Schutzhund training. That Obedience ruins the dogs, any dog can track, etc, protection work is REAL training.”
They enjoyed the adrenaline rush of protection work. So did their dogs. They lacked the skill to enhance their dogs’ natural obedience. They dampened their dogs’ enthusiasm for obedience work because they lacked the handling skills to make obedience work enjoyable for their dogs.
There are thousands of men and women taking part in Obedience, Agility and tracking with their dogs. There is a handful who are actively engaged in man work. They do not want to give up their adrenaline rush. They want their thrills.
If only they knew that working their dog in the obedience ring, in Agility or Tracking can make you go weak at the knees, make the blood roar in your ears and be as scary as bungy jumping!
There are some people who are involved in Security Work. They need to have their dogs protection trained. Out of respect for the GSDA of WA and the many members who fought for the lifting of the ban, they refrain from Schutzhund training as a sport. For them, it is enough to know that the dogs are operational, and we thank them. For competition purposes, and if you have a good dog, you LOVE to compete, these guys show off their dogs in – have you guessed it? Obedience, Agility, Tracking!!!
These dedicated members, respecting the views of their Government which is still not pro-dog, their Kennel Control, which does not support Schutzhund, and their Clubs, which through necessity have to abstain from any participation in Schutzhund training, these skilled dog handlers and lovers of the breed, make the sacrifice of not indulging their passion for protection work.
All over Australia, the German Shepherd Dog owners, trainers, breeders, work on breed improvement. We submit our dogs to stringent testing, we are willing to make many sacrifices for the good of the breed. We are the guardians of the breed. We cannot participate in a sport that would give the anti-dog brigade the ammunition to bring back draconian laws of muzzling, permanent leash control and heaven forbid, sterilization.
For years, we have requested that our members do not participate in Schutzhund work. We even have the Presidents of W.A.’s two Schutzhund Clubs, one with just over ten and one with just under twenty members, very, very keen dog lovers who ARE skilled in training and experienced in working with German Shepherds, Dobermanns and Rottweilers, as members of our Association. We have had training demonstrations of protection work, obedience and tracking by these valued members and keen Schutzhund exponents on our very own Club grounds, and liked what we saw.
WE do not need to be converted. We would also love to become involved in this great sport, but as it would be politically very, very unwise, we cannot and we will not. Therefore I have asked these gentlemen when they joined us, to please remember that we do not embrace Schutzhund training, and they have assured me that they will not indulge in this sport while with the G.S.D.A. of W.A. This they promised to honour.
Did you know that in Victoria, laws are being formulated which make the owning of imported dogs rather difficult if they have a Schutzhund title? THEY MAY BE DECLARED DANGEROUS DOGS! This means they must live in an escape proof kennel (Cage). They must be muzzled when off their property. They must always be on lead. Did you know that a declared Dangerous Dog cannot be kept in the house, as a family pet? Sitting in a car, a Dangerous Dog should be muzzled as cars can be opened by strangers. In N.S.W. Dangerous Dogs have to wear a RED COLLAR and lead to show that they are dangerous.
Our well trained Schutzhund dogs are dangerous dogs? NO WAY! However, in order to protect our breed, we must be circumspect. Egos and Ethics affect our training, PLEASE WORK WITH US! The adrenaline rush is very addictive, and it’s harder to give up than smoking or a cold beer, but please do not destroy what the G.S.D.C.A. and its Member Clubs have built up over the years “just for a change”, a SchH thrill!
In 1977, the Breed Affairs Committee, chaired by John Fenner, developed a list of Recommended Breeding Practices and a Code of Ethics, which were to be unanimously adopted at the G.S.D.A. of W.A. General Meeting. A notable contributor to the outcome was Don Glewis. Later that year we ran our first All Breeds Dog Show at the Waroona Agricultural Show, its success being a prerequisite to the C.A.W.A. giving its permission to conducting our first GSD Specialist Show.
Next year in June 1978, we conducted our first GSD Specialist Events weekend, which was co-ordinated by John Fenner. The first Specialist Show, with the late Janet Doyle (NSW) judging, proved very popular. Also on that weekend, the Breed Affairs Committee conducted the first Breed Survey in Western Australia with Janet and the late Walter Reimann officiating.
A year later in June 1979, our second GSD Specialist Show was conducted at the Perth Royal Showgrounds in Claremont, with the internationally renowned Herr Herman Jochmann (Germany) and Malcolm Willis (U.K.) judging and also giving informative lectures. Once again, the show, lectures and social events were successfully organised by the relevant Committees, with overall co-ordination by John Fenner. The Show sub-committee and Executive Committee adopted the name of “West Coast Challenge” as part of its promotion, especially to potential exhibitors from the eastern states (N.S.W., A.C.T, Victoria and S.A.), whom supported the show with a very strong entry of dogs and bitches.
1980 saw the third GSD Specialist Show “West Coast Challenge” utilize the venue of Wanneroo Football Club in the Kingsway Sporting Complex in Wanneroo, where it has remained up until last year, 2000. Carol O’Rourke became Chairperson of the Show Committee organizing the event and the late Berthold Weineke (SV) from Germany was the Judge.
By the end of 1980 under the Presidency of John Fenner, Club membership was about 2000, which numerically compared to each separate memberships of each of the G.S.D.C. of Victoria and the G.S.D.L. of N.S.W.
2001 heralded the change of venue of the “West Coast Challenge” GSD Specialist Show, Trial and Agility to the C.A.W.A. Canine Centre in Southern River.
2011 saw another change – the members voted that the West Coast Challenge Show and Trial come “Home” to our headquarters. This turned out to be a huge success and well supported by all in attendance.