The first initiatives to establish a Dog Showing Association were done by a certain Mr. Joseph Dimech. The Malta Kennel Club members today owe a lot to this exceptional gentleman. Mr. Dimech, a repatriated migrant, from the USA used to live in Marsa. Whilst in America Mr. Dimech became familiar with dog shows and noticing a pair of Chow-chows just down the road to where he lived soon after his return to Malta, he befriended the owner and together with the latter he started his first endeavors to establish the first Kennel Association.
The owner of the Chow-chows was Mr. Baldasare Formosa, a well-known personality at the Malta Kennel Club. Unfortunately, Baldas - as he was familiarly known has recently departed this life. God bless him, an active member until his very last days. His void will be greatly missed.
Baldas had recalled the very first years of the dog game in Malta. He explained that the idea of establishing the association was first conceived in 1946, when Mr. Dimech and himself became friends. However, it was not until 1948 that the first committee of the Malta Kennel Club was formed. This committee consisted of seven members, who included, besides Joseph Dimech and Baldas Formosa, prominent people like Professor Vassallo MD and Major Louis Ganado as President and secretary respectively. Baldas could recall the names on the other three members, but not their full names. He said that one was a certain Patist from Msida, another was called Guzeppi known as "Tal-Gingrija" and the third an English lady who was the wife of an officer in the British Forces posted in Malta. The first Committee meetings were held at the residence of Major Ganado.
The first dog shows used to be a part of the annual show of the Fur and Feather Association and later of the Rabbit Breeders Association. The venues for these shows were usually San Anton Gardens, Argotti Gardens, the garden of a large villa at Gzira, the Hollywood Theatre at Hamrun and other public gardens.
The judging was usually entrusted to British Servicemen, their wives and other British residents. Their competence was rather doubtful. This was soon realised by the Committee. Efforts were then made with the (British) Kennel Club to establish some kind of uniformity and in 1949 a reciprocal agreement was entered into by the Malta Kennel Club and the (British) Kennel Club. The first official British Judge, namely Lord of Nortex, was brought over to judge the show in 1957.
The Shows in the first years lacked the polish and the professional set up with which we are so familiar today. However, although the efforts and enthusiasm of the first committees was never lacking, one has to realise that facilities and finance were quite limited. Opportunities to learn from other organisations in the canine world were practically non-existent.
During the 1970's there was a major upheaval in the dog scene. A heated argument during one of the shows resulted in the suspension of certain members. These suspended members branched out and formed their own club, which became known as the Hamrun Kennel Club. The Hamrun Club was a dissident club and had no recognition, neither in Malta nor abroad.
In 1971, due to legislation, the Malta Kennel Club had to change its name to The Main Kennel Club.
In 1976, The Main Kennel Club went completely independent from the Rabbit Breeders Association in the shows, and in 1978, the shows were increased to three annually. These shows were also given Championship status. The Club also rented offices at the Msida Youth Centre to have a permanent address.
During the 80's dog showing grew from strength to strength. The lifting of the dog importation ban from the UK dramatically improved the quality of the dogs in the ring. Championship show judges from the U.K. were purposely being brought over to Malta to judge at every show. The competence of handlers in the ring had increased remarkably; the spectacle of the final judging had been enhanced by the introduction of Group Judging, and this was drawing crowds of spectators; exhibitors became more sporting and civilised; incidents had become rather sporadic and almost non-existent.
In 1985, the Hamrun Kennel Club, then know as the Hamrun Canine Society requested affiliation to the Malta Kennel Club. This was granted as a sign of goodwill for the benefit of the Dogs as well as the members. However, it was evident that the Committee of the Canine Society wanted much more than an affiliation. They would never accept that it was the Malta Kennel Club who had complete control over canine matters concerning Malta. They repeatedly requested a reciprocal agreement with the (British) Kennel Club, and this in turn was repeatedly turned down.
In 1997 The German Shepherd Dog Association was also formed and this club too requested affiliation with the Malta Kennel Club. In this year dog registrations had reached the 1000 mark per year. The Malta Kennel Club was growing from strength to strength.
During the 1998 the Committee of the Malta Kennel Club started to seek further avenues for the members and their dogs. Membership with the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) was then being strongly considered. In 1999, Mr Jorgen Hindse Madsen, the FCI's delegate for Europe visited the Malta Kennel Club, and after having seen the "modus operandi" of the Club confirmed that he would put forward his approval to the FCI general Assembly which was to be held in Mexico in May 1999. Having heard this the Canine society quickly took steps to stop our membership with the FCI. They also requested that membership be made with the Canine society themselves and not with The Malta Kennel Club. It was evidently clear that the Canine Society wanted to take over the reigns on Canine activities in Malta.
In May of 1999, the FCI General assembly approved the associate membership of the Malta Kennel Club, and in July of the same year, this was unanimously approved by the members during a purposely-convened General Meeting of the Malta Kennel Club. A new era had begun.
Shortly after the Malta Kennel Club's associate membership with the FCI, the Canine Society as well as the German Shepherd Association removed their reciprocal agreement with the Malta Kennel Club. The reason given was that the membership with the FCI was not beneficial for Malta. It was certainly a case of sour grapes!
This was not the end of a bad story however. The Canine Society together with the GSD club formed a Federation, Instantly they claimed jurisdiction over Canine matters in Malta. They again requested affiliation with the (British) Kennel Club. This time the Kennel Club succumbed to their request and awarded them a provisional reciprocal agreement. The Malta Kennel contends that this goes against the spirit of fair play and is definitely not conducive towards the well being of the Dog community in Malta. The Kennel Club also removed the 49-year-old reciprocal agreement with the Malta Kennel Club, and replaced this also with a provisional reciprocal agreement.
Obviously the Malta Kennel Club was taken aback by this incomprehensive decision, however it continued in its path - that of joining the dog community to Europe. In fact, in December 1999, the Malta Kennel Club held its first CAC Championship show. The first International Championship show will also be held in November 4th and 5th with the approval of the FCI.