by Sharon Strempski
The first meeting of the Affenpinscher Club of America was held in the fall of 1965 in New York State. The club was formed through the efforts of newer breeders, most notably Emily Kinsley and Lucille Meystedt. At that first meeting, Pro Tem officers were elected and a further meeting to finish establishing the club was planned for April 1966 at the Chicago International Kennel Club show.
Problems developed at the Chicago meeting. A combination of personality clashes and hurt feelings caused a small group of fanciers to split off and form another club. The officers who were elected at the Affenpinscher Club of America meeting in April had been mainly new people to the breed. It’s quite possible that some of the well established breeders felt slighted. The splinter group, the American Affenpinscher Association, lasted about three or four years. During the same time span, the Affenpinscher Club of America sought out new members and grew slowly. By 1969 the club’s newsletter, which first appeared on an irregular basis, was established as a monthly publication known as the AFFIG ZEITUNG.
The turning point for the club and the breed had to be the first match show September 1976 judged by Ruth Terry. People had talked about doing a match for years but nobody wanted to volunteer for the job. Emily Kinsley and Sharon Strempski decided to take on the task and put on a little “fun” match at Ms. Kinsley’s home.
Originally, it was planned to make paper ribbons and give dog biscuits as prizes. This quickly went by the wayside! Through the generosity of club members and several companies, there were real ribbons, prizes and even certificates of participation. After the show, a 8 ½” by 11” catalogue was printed up and sent to all the exhibitors. It would have been very easy just to invite club members, but invitations were extended to new people in the breed and those who had belonged to the American Affenpinscher Association. A serious effort was made to make these people feel welcome and to encourage them to join the club. It was most gratifying that these people were welcomed back into the club, effectively reuniting it.
Best In Match that September went to a puppy bitch who became Ch. El Cocagi Eli Eli Wahine. Posey, as her owner-breeder Ellen Stoewsand called her, later went on to do extremely well in the Toy Group at point shows. El Cocagi Kamehameha, her litter mate, who placed second in his class, went on to earn his championship and become the first Best In Show Affenpinscher. “Bear”, as he was called, went Best In Show at the Tonawanda Valley Kennel Club show on June 11, 1978 under Mr. Wills. Over the years a number of fine dogs had come within a hair’s breadth of it but the breed had to wait until someone had the courage to say “the Affenpinscher is Best In Show”.
Until the Club met the AKC’s criteria for a licensed specialty, members made do with “unofficial” national specialties, the first of which was held at Kanadasaga Kennel Club on June 7, 1980. Fittingly, Miss Iris de la Torre Bueno gave Ch. El Cocagi Kamehameha Best Of Breed. It was quite a lovely entry with five point majors in both sexes. The two days of shows were dubbed “The Great Affenpinscher Weekend”, a name which has stuck for all Club specialties.
On May 17, 1986, twenty one years after its first organizational meeting, The Affenpinscher Club of America held its first licensed specialty in conjunction with the Mattoponi Kennel Club Show. Best of Breed went to Ch. Hilane’s Lonesome Cowboy, under Judge Frank Sabella. There were 39 Affenpinschers entered, which was the largest entry ever. Thanks to the efforts of Mrs. Mally and so many others who loved the breed, the Affenpinscher was firmly established in the United States.