Tom Dubber looks back to

The Founding and Building of

The Scottish Terrier Club of Australia

Della Elliott interviews one of our Club’s founders

Reprinted from the STC 40th Anniversary (1977) Souvenir Catalogue

Talking with Tom Dubber was an inspiration; throughout the whole discussion his enthusiasm and love of the Scottie breed came through, as did his driving power to get things done. No wonder The Scottish Terrier Club of Australia, progenitor of our Club, got off to such a virile start, a start that gave it the strength to surmount the many difficult and turbulent years recorded in its history and bring it to its 40th Anniversary Year, 1977.

So, at the outset, “Thank you, Tom Dubber, and your four stalwart companions who joined with you in founding The Scottish Terrier Club of Australia.”

It’s good to have some mental picture of the person you are reading about, therefore a word or two on Tom Dubber or, more correctly, Theo Dubber — he’s “Tom” to his friends and we, Club members, aim to be included in that bracket.

Without doubt, many of today’s members (including your reporter) bad visions of a somewhat frail, elderly gentleman of, say, 80-odd summers. Far from it. Tom Dubber is 69 years of age, alert and active. As with many of us, the years have taken their toll, he may not be as agile as in his younger days but he is still quick off the mark, the dark brown hair has turned to grey but the keen brown eyes remain, reflecting enquiry, anger or humour as be talks with you. His forthright manner in answering questions and speaking of the Club’s early years made it easy to imagine him at work in the thirties and forties, energetically pursuing the building of the Scottie breed club. Obviously, he and his four companions were confident the Club could be built, equally obvious is the fact he had little patience with “doubters” or any who sought personal aggrandisement through their dogs. Enthusiasm and a willingness to work for the Scottie were Tom’s measuring rods.

Now to what Tom Dubber talked about as he recalled the founding and early years of the Scottish Terrier Club of Australia.

“Bill Read’s recollections are correct,” said Tom. “After our discussion in 1936 some action got under way. Early in 1937 I put an advertisement in The Daily Telegraph, calling on people interested in forming a Scottish Terrier Club to meet one evening at Rawson Chambers (Rawson Place~ Sydney). Five people turned up — Norman Bloomfleld, Bill Read, George Gardner, Gordon Neilson and, of course, myself. That evening we formed The Scottish Terrier Club of Australia.

“A month or so later, we put another advertisement in the paper and a few more joined us, among them being Vic Taylor and G. D. (“Gibby'  McCutcheon, and a little later Bill Purvis became a member.

“From the outset, Norman Bloomfield was acting chairman; we then decided it was time to have a permanent chairman and he was elected the first President of the Club.”

“How about the Secretary and Treasurer?” I asked. “Who held those jobs?” “Well”, said Tom, “in the early days I was the Secretary-Treasurer; that continued for some considerable time; then, when we started to increase in numbers, “Gibby” McCutcheon became treasurer and I continued as secretary. Later, Bill Purvis took over the treasurer’s job.

“We had a committee; in fact, in the early days the Committee actually comprised the whole of the membership but after a few years — when we had overcome the opposition of many of the people in The British Terrier Club (they initially thought that formation of a specialist breed club for the Scottish Terrier would smash the British Terrier Club) those with Scotties joined us — we became quite a big club, just over 150 members, and the Committee was elected.”

And so the years passed — very active years during which Tom Dubber remained the secretary. “It was my baby,” said Tom, “I wanted to see it on a sound footing before I pulled out. I told the members I would leave when they could run three shows in a year with over 100 entries for each show. Well, we did, and I pulled out after 12 years as secretary. I will admit I was tired — 12 years in the job was a long time. We had often run shows with over 100 entries but had not previously held three shows in one year, each with over 100 entries, Of course, in those days I spent hours on the telephone cajoling or bullying people to show their dogs. You’ve got to be enthusiastic, and you’ve got to keep reminding people.”

Further questioned on the strength of the Club, Tom said it was the biggest and most powerful specialist club in Sydney, there was no other specialist club to equal it. “Of course”, he said, “with so many members and a number quite active we were having success, we were pushing the Scottie into many shows, the Club made the Scottish Terrier.”

Affiliation to the Kennel Control

With knowledge of the statement by Tom’s fellow foundation member Bill Read, I then asked Tom about joining the Kennel Control. He replied:

“There were about half-a-dozen different bodies in those days, the Kennel Board of Control, the Canine Corporation — I cannot recall the correct title of the others but there were about a half-a-dozen splinter bodies and we would not associate with any of them.

“Hut when the Kennel Council came in — they bad the backing of the Royal Agricultural Society — there were many members in our Club who did not approve of us joining the Kennel Council, but more who believed that there would eventually have to be a governing body and that the Kennel Council looked like the one that had the most chance of succeeding. So, as a Club, we decided to join up with the Kennel Council and give them a go for a little time. I think most of the big clubs of the day also joined the Council.

“Eventually, the R.A.S. took over the Kennel Council of Control and it became known as the R.A.S. Kennel Control. It had to be. We knew, being more interested in dogs than ourselves, that we would have to have some controlling body to keep the records and so on, that there needed to be a definite governing body; therefore, to join that body was the only sensible course. True, it did cause some dissension in the Club, some members resigned, but there was no disruption to the continuing life of the Club.

“We were very fortunate in those early years. The members were extremely enthusiastic, and if you get a group of enthusiastic members who will work and give their spare time to the Club and will exhibit their dogs, then you cannot help but go forward. I have seen as many as thirty entries from one exhibitor — that is an enormous number of entries. Of course, in those days we had many more classes than you have today, and a dog may be entered in quite a few classes. Also, many members put in 10 or 12 entries for a show and this bolstered the Club and gave it quite good standing and big entries. There can be no question that a lot of us knew we could not win, but we did put in the entry.

“I think those two aspects were the basis of the Club’s development:

firstly, people were prepared to spend a little — not so much spend in money terms but prepared to spend their time and effort in building the Club; secondly, they were prepared to get out and show their dogs. I think those two ingredients are the secret of success in any dog club or similar group.”

On the social side

Tom’s wife, Selina Dubber, is an honorary life member of the Scottish Terrier Club in her own right. Blonde and blue-eyed, Selina is still keenly interested in the Scottish Terrier Breed. Unfortunately, ill health has restricted her activity and those who knew her will appreciate just how much this has meant to her. In the 1930’s and 1940’s she was in charge of what Tom termed “the ladies work” — the social side of Club activities. afternoon teas and that type of thing. Breeding and showing did not interest her but Tom said that “on the social side she was a wizard and, together with Mrs. McCutcheon and Mrs. Taylor ran the social activities for many years.”

As the years passed others came into the Club and helped ease the load of the early founders.

“Love your dog better than yourself”

A last word from Tom Dubber, I asked him had he, as the prime mover in the founding of our Club, any message to give today’s members. He replied:

“I can give only one message. You have to love your dog, the Scottie. better than yourself. You have to work for him and take that further into your breed Club. There are many things he cannot do for himself; he cannot promote the breed, you have to do that, you have to take him further and do the things he wants, the things he needs. A strong breed club gives you good dogs because it develops competition. Yes, above all you have to love your dog and his breed, advancement of the Scottish Terrier must be your goal, and the best way to do that is through an enthusiastic and active Club membership.”          

January, 1977

** ** **

Ten years on, Tom Dubber still evinces that alert mind and active participation in life that impressed us in 1977. Unfortunately, in the inter&SHYvening years Tom lost his beloved wife, Selina, who shared his interest and devotion to the Scottie breed.

As he did for our 40th Anniversary, Tom is planning to join us at our 50th Anniversary shows. It will be good to renew our acquaintanceship and discuss our common bond — the Scottish Terrier.

1987 update Letter from Tom Dubber

My telephone rang. On answering, I was amazed to hear the voice of Della Elliott. By all rights of my nature, I should have replaced the receiver, for this lady had, 8 or 9 years ago, refused me the chance of returning to the Scottish Terrier fraternity — she would not sell me a pup I so desperately needed. *

However, to get back to the phone call. Mrs. Elliott was sending me a copy of my remarks made in 1977, and requested I read same and update any portion or portions thereof if I considered it necessary.

I have heard and seen the vagaries of journalistic license, and I am convinced that Della Elliott is well versed in the art. Further, I do not honestly think my earlier remarks can be updated.

But to return to the Scottish Terrier: How many of the people who read this letter have seen the true Scottie, the little devil with the Chippen&SHYdale front, hard textured coat, glorious body — beautifully slung, medium sized head with a powerful muzzle and a real varmity expression, ready and eager to do the job he was made to do?

Yes, we have made a show dog, an animal of beauty. Hut have we in doing so lost a companion?

I have not been to a Scottie show for 10 years, nor judged one since 1952; so, I hope you will forgive me for an old man’s wanderings.

The Scottish Terrier Club was formed to benefit the breed and I think you have reached a high standard for exhibition Scotties. However, I urge you never forget soundness and type must always be considered a necessary objective.

I cannot and will not pass an opinion on the Scottish Terrier of today. I have always held the view that one must have a practical and close association with the breed before making a conclusive opinion about a breed that is worth the best we can give.

                                                                         Tom Dubber
                                                                         January, 1987

*Deleve Gregivol Garth,kept by the breeder

 Top of Page