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The Beginnings……

In the early 1940's, shoe store owner and cocker spaniel breeder, Ivr Beckman of Ft. Atkinson, rallied breed enthusiasts in that corner of the state to form the Fanciers' Cocker Spaniel Club of Southern Wisconsin. Although no records remain to documant the first meetings, by 1945 Fanciers' was granted approval to host its first specialty show, which was won by Ch. Benbow's Duke, the only confirmed champion to be awarded Best of Breed in the club's first decade of licensed events .
The early membership roster, with Mr. Beckman of Merry-Wag Cockers as president included his wife, Mary, Mr. & Mrs. Lawrence Guyman,Mr. & Mrs. Claude Johnson, Emma Price, Neal Rogers, Glen and Olga Greenwood, and Erve Nelson. Soon after its establishment, Fanciers' became a member club of ASC. 

The 1950's, which marked the end of the boom years for cockers, saw Fanciers' welcoming several new members who went on to establishtheir place in breed history.Dawn and Bill Brice and Mr. and Mrs. Del Peterson (Lor-Del)joined the club in 1953, and Ann and John Brojanac(Valli-Lo) became members in 1954. Despite the club's healthy growth, some dispute is suggested in the minutes of 1955, when after steady debate, the club elected not to hold a specialty show, but instead sponsored al all-age match judged by Merel Clift who awarded top honors to Nelson's My Promise. Despite the suggested strife, differences appear to have been mended by the April meeting, where the minutes tell us, "Mr and Mrs Brojanac served a delightful lunch !"

During the 1960's Joanne Thorp(Nosowea) joined the club, another new member trasplanted from Sweden and then from the East Coast, was Rune Nilsson(Three Crowns). Club member Marilyn Pryor (Priority) was also active in the American Spaniel Club, serving as board member and President. 

The 1970's in some ways marked the end to the golden age of innocence in the breed, when research conducted concerning juvenile cataracts, hip dysplasia, and Factor X Deficiency defined conclusively the heredity nature of these maladies. 
Rising to the occasion Fanciers' hosted one of the first blood draws and x-ray clinics held by ASC member clubs. Fanciers' also pledged annual donations to fund Dr. Yakley's cataract research at the test breeding colony in Washington State, and Dr. Jean Dodd's effects to map the genetic patterns of hemophillac blood disorders. 

The seventies marked the greatest growth in club membership. Over forty active breeders made up the rooster, including some from northern and western sections of the state, and northern Illinois and Chicago suburbs, as well. The 1973 Christmas party was staged at the prestigious Nantucket Shores at the Astor Hotel in downtown Milwaukee, where the number of members and their guests filled two banquet tables. 

The 1980's marked a number of changes in club dynamics as long time president Ann Brojanc stepped down from this office to be replaced by Bill Brice who served in this capacity for most of the decade. the club welcomed members like Mary Jean and Susan Smoller(Buckinghamhill) and Kim Wubbels (Northyork) who wind the Futurity at the ASC National Specialty in 1987 with her black bitch, Northyork Midnight Delight. 

The 1990's found Fanciers' CSC in the public spotlight the club was awarded numerous honors for Information, Project Design, and Creativity for its public information activities at the Wisconsin State Fair. During this decade, Fanciers' also took part in a nationwide breed rescue movement, and created its own successful placement program due in a large part to the efforts of Heidi Braun (Tebreez).

1995 marked the clubs golden anniversary. The annual specialty show commemorated the occsion with a historical pictorial featuring the BB winners from the last 50 years. Also Ann and John Brojanac's life-time dedication to the breed and to the club was honored at ringside with a commissioned portrait done by Wisconsin artist, Mike McCartney. The show itself, presided over by judge Lewis Bayne concluded with the purple and gold rosette going to history's to breeder-owner handled cocker spaniel, Ch. Buckingham Blackbird Pie. This marked the third BB win at Fanciers' for the Smoller sisters' black bitch. 

In the new millennium diversity marks Fanciers' membership. While the initial enthusiasts focused their efforts primarily as breeders of show dogs, today's membership rooster includes avid competitors in obedience, agility, tracking, canine good citizenship, and to the credit of our hardy little spaniels, the field. 
After sixty years supporting the many venues which make-up the sport of purebred dogs, which remains foremost on our list of priorities is a dedication to the cocker Spaniel as an unsurpassed companion. Because of this passion, Fanciers' continues to act as an advocate and ambassador for the cocker, reaching out to new members breed enthusiasts and pet owners alike. 

prepared by Dr. Mary Jeane Smoller Phillips 

© Heidi Braun 2016