In January of 1927, the WTCA was provided with funds to award a very special trophy to be known as the “Homer Gage, Junior, Memorial Trophy”, to be won each year by the WTCA member who shall own the “Best American Bred Welsh Terrier” exhibited at the show or shows where the Grand Challenge Cup was offered. This fund was “Given in memory of Homer Gage, Junior.
Should the Best of Breed winner not be American bred and not owned by a WTCA member (members) a special judging will be necessary. All WTCA MEMBER OWNED AMERICAN BRED ENTRIES WHO HAVE NOT BEEN DEFEATED BY THE SAME shall come into the ring after all regular and nonregular classes have been judged. The ring stewards will determine which Welsh shall compete.
Who Was Homer Gage Jr.?
Homer Gage was born on November 17, 1895, in Worcester, Massachusetts. He graduated from St. Mark’s School in Southborough, Massachusetts in 1914 and went on to study at Harvard. Anxious to serve his country during the First World War, he entered a military training camp at Plattsburg in 1916, where it was discovered that he had impaired hearing in addition to a slightly impaired heart. Not to be deterred by this, he sailed for France with the American Field Service (also known as the American Ambulance Company) in the late spring of 1917. During his army life, his hearing continued to be a problem and he was hospitalized on several occasions. Nevertheless, his superior officer commended his “enthusiasm, thoughtfulness and good judgement”.
One of the first things Homer did on arriving in France was to buy a Belgian Shepherd puppy called Gypsy. Gypsy became the mascot of the section and, after the war, returned with Homer to Massachusetts and lived out her life at his home in Shrewsbury.
Homer returned to the United States in March 1919 and completed his degree at Harvard. From there, he spent about a year learning about the textile industry at the woolen mills of M. & T. Stevens in Andover, MA starting as an apprentice and working his way through the different departments of the mill. In 1920, he went to work for his uncle, L. J. Knowles, President of the Compton & Knowles Loom Works, and in 1922, Homer established and managed a new Supply Sales Department.
Homer’s great passion was his dogs. In 1921, he established the Welwire Kennel, breeding Welsh Terriers and Wire Fox Terriers. During the remaining four years of his life, his study of the selection, breeding and management of his dogs earned him an international reputation as a ‘good sportsman, a keen judge of dogs and a master of the principles of breeding’. He was a member of the English Fox Terrier Club, a governor of the American Fox Terrier Club and the Welsh Terrier Club of America. At the time of his death, he had just been asked to stand as a candidate for director of the AKC.
His first show dog was Taffy, Ch. Real Welsh of Hafren, who was shown in the summer of 1921. In October of 1921, he imported from England two Wire Fox Terriers which he registered as Welwire Welsh Scout and Welwire Miss Springtime. Homer’s kennel master, Joseph Booth and his wife, came over from England the following month to take care of the kennels. Several more dogs were imported from England and became American champions
Between 1921 and 1925, Welwire Kennels housed somewhere between forty and eighty Welsh and Fox Terriers. But Homer’s interest was not simply in winning – an attainment that he believed anyone with enough money and a good eye could achieve. His aim was to breed in the U.S. terriers every bit the equal of terriers being bred in England. He corresponded with the top English breeders and visited England several times to examine breeding stock and visit shows. His judging career began in October 1923, when he judged at the Tuxedo Kennel Club, with an entry of 8 Smooth Fox Terriers and 54 Wire Fox Terriers. In the spring of 1924, he judged at Devon with an entry of 17 Smooth Fox Terriers and 82 Wire Fox Terriers, and at the Wire Fox Terrier Specialty in February 1925, he judged an entry of 133 dogs.
Homer Gage Jr. passed away on Wednesday, September 2, 1925, at the age of 29. Two days earlier he had complained of a slight headache. This developed into “Infantile Paralysis” (poliomyelitis) and after an illness lasting just three days, he passed away peacefully. Tributes written after his death show him to have been extremely popular and highly respected, prized for his genial disposition and optimistic nature.
Prior to sailing for England in September 1924, he wrote a letter to his parents which remained unopened until after his death. In the letter, he asked his parents to offer two trophies to the American Fox Terrier Club: the Homer Gage Jr. Memorial Trophy to be offered for the best American bred dog, wire or smooth, and the Welwire Kennels Memorial trophy for best American bred bitch. He also asked for a trophy to be offered through the Welsh Terrier Club of America for the best American bred Welsh Terrier.
In one of the many tributes received by his parents after his death, Homer is described as being “broad of outlook, with a keen sense of humor, yet a businessman to his fingertips, he impresses you at once as the type of fancier who stands for all that is best in dogdom”. To those of us in the Welsh Terrier Club of America, he will always be simply “Homer Gage Jr. – Gentleman, sportsman, lover of dogs”.
Source: In Memoriam, Homer Gage Jr.: November 17, 1895 – September 2, 1925. Published privately by his parents, Dr. Homer Gage and Mabel Knowles Gage, and donated to the Harvard College Library Jan. 25, 1928.