You could say the Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA) has been “celebrating everything dog,” as its tagline says, for roughly 16 dog years — that’s the equivalent of 85 human years. The association was created in 1935 when a group of editors and publishers who were invited to the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, held annually in New York City since 1877, gathered in a meeting room at a former Madison Square Garden that has since been demolished.
“All that survives of the first meeting is a crumbling, yellow sheet of notepaper,” Carol Bryant, president of DWAA, told Convene. On that sheet is written that dues were paid at the time of the first meeting, listing the names of eight people in attendance. Early meeting minutes set dues and established that an annual meeting would be held in New York City every year immediately before the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
Since then, the association membership has grown to include more than writers, editors, and publishers. Among its 500-plus members today are people who creatively promote the interests of dogs, such as photographers, illustrators, on-air personalities, bloggers, and social-media influencers.
Best in Breed
The latest DWAA Event and Awards Banquet was held Feb. 9 at the Holiday Inn Secaucus Meadowlands in Secaucus, New Jersey. Speakers at this year’s event included Larry Woodward, president and lead editor of Dogwise Publishing, and Anne Serling, a dog lover and author of As I Knew Him: My Dad, Rod Serling.
The DWAA’s annual event is capped at 100 attendees on a first-come, first-served basis, and costs $125 per person for an evening of networking, educational sessions with keynote speakers, and an award ceremony that celebrates the winners of the organization’s annual writing competition. The competition is open to members and non-members working in various types of creative media and features categories from articles to podcasts.
Also on the event program? Attendees of the four-legged variety. “Some folks asked if they could bring their well-behaved dogs to the event,” Bryant said. “Because the Holiday Inn Secaucus Meadowlands is a pet-welcoming facility, this was a big hit. Most of the dogs are known from social media, the dog show ring, agility, or just from the world of dog writing and blogging.”
At the DWAA, it seems every dog does have its day.
Casey Gale is an associate editor at Convene.