Our Club was established in the 1940’s as the “Progressive Dog Club of Detroit,” a Club for Non-Sporting breeds only. At the time, the Non-Sporting Group consisted of nine breeds and varieties: Boston Terrier, Bulldog, Chow Chow, Dalmatian, French Bulldog, Keeshond, Miniature Poodle, Standard Poodle and Schipperke. Over the years, nine more breeds have been added to this Group.
The Club’s first Show (Non-Sporting breeds only) was held in the fall of 1945. After the second Show in 1946, the name was changed to the “Progressive Dog Club of Wayne County” to more accurately reflect the territory assigned to the Club by the AKC; Wayne County, except Detroit. The City of Detroit was the territory of the Detroit Kennel Club. Also, around 1947, Progressive became an all-breed Club.
Those first Shows included all-breed Obedience and “Children’s Handling,” a forerunner of today’s Junior Handling. These were “benched shows” with entries of about 250 dogs. Dogs had to remain on their benches until 8:00 PM. A copy of the 1946 Premium List indicates the entry fee was $4.00!
Our Shows were held in the Coliseum at the Michigan State Fairgrounds for over 40 years. In 2003, we moved to the beautiful, spacious Birch Run Expo Center. In 2020 the club decided to team up with the Pontiac Kennel Club to hold a cluster, and late that year, the Expo Center was sold to Camping World. The clubs decided to move keep their shows on Progressive’s traditional weekend and move to the Saginaw County Fairgrounds in Chessaning, Michigan.
The Charter members of the Progressive Dog Club included prominent Detroit families such as the Fruehaufs and long-time AKC Judge, Ray Perso. Our first President was Kenneth Branion, noted Bulldog breeder. The Club membership was involved in public education and activism from the beginning. Their first cause was anti-vivisection. A letter opposing vivisection was sent to the Governor of Michigan, and leaflets from the American Anti-Vivisection Society were handed out at the shows. Our interest in public education continues today.