You are hereTom Luxton, Patron of the German Shepherd Dog Club of Victoria

Tom Luxton, Patron of the German Shepherd Dog Club of Victoria


Thomas Roger Luxton Esquire

Patron of the German Shepherd Dog Club of Victoria

To say that Tom has always been part of the German Shepherd world, is to state an absolute truism. His grandfather, Mr. H D Luxton was the first President of our club, back in 1929, nearly 80 years ago. Tom himself has been a club member for the past 52 years.
Essentially his hectic business life prevented him from playing a prominent, upfront role for the club. Tom only held a committee position in 1963, although over the very long time he has been actively involved with German Shepherd dogs. He was an obedience instructor for more than 10 years. He has also been a huge contributor in a large variety of ways to the cause of the German Shepherd Dog, including assisting dogs and people during times of great hardship and difficulties. The club has truly recognized Tom’s service with a well deserved Life Membership.
Probably his finest hour was the pivotal role he played in the lifting of the infamous import ban on German Shepherds. He recognized that the only way to achieve anything with the commonwealth/federal politicians was to produce an independent, unbiased and objective scientific opinion as to the attributes and virtues of the German Shepherd Dog, as opposed to the commonly held view that “the German Shepherd/Alsatian was more trouble than it was worth and was a potential super sheep killer”.
He proceeded to gather worldwide scientific opinion, from a wide variety of sources, including the Royal Guide Dogs for the Blind Associations of Australia, the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association California USA, The world's first formal guide dog movement “Seeing Eye Incorporated”  New Jersey, Professor Scott for the Centre for Research on Social Behaviour, University of Ohio, the University of Melbourne, the Australian National University, the Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation USA, internationally recognized geneticists, dog trainers, etc. This resulted in a scholarly and scientifically based report that was presented to the politicians of the day, who upon reading this report were prepared to lift the ban, initially for a trial period of one year then permanently a year later. (Note: The full story, including copies of parts of the report and related correspondence can be found in the publication “A Condensed History of the German Shepherd Dog in Australia” published in 1990 and which can be found in the club’s library, located at KCC Park as part of the VCA library.)
In recognition of these efforts to lift the ban, the German Shepherd Dog Council of Australia, awarded Tom, Professor Rolf Beilhartz and Dr Wright at the 1989 Main Breed Show at KCC Park, a suitably inscribed pewter mug, with a Main Breed Show Excellent Select medal (our highest show accolade) attached to the mug, epitomizing the significance of their efforts. At the same event, Tom was awarded the GSDCA Service Award for outstanding and meritorious service.
Another project that was enthusiastically tackled by Tom was the creation and founding of the Kamarn Breeders Foundation in the early 1970’s, which bred approximately 800 German Shepherd puppies under the Kamarn prefix, all bred for the specific purpose of going to work in a variety of community services which included the Police, Customs, Armed Forces and Guide Dogs for the Blind.  Despite its success, the federal government decided to cease funding this organization in the early 1980’s and the Foundation had to be wound up, which Tom always considered to be an expensive Government mistake.
Undoubtedly, the best success Kamarn achieved was to introduce German Shepherd dogs into the Australian guide dog scene. It was a truly monumental effort due to the totally unfair prejudices against the German Shepherd Dog at that time. This was ironic, considering that the very large number of guide dogs throughout the world are German Shepherds, a situation pioneered by the Seeing Eye Dog School at New Jersey, USA, in the late 1920’s.
In conjunction with the Kamarn project and an offshoot of its testing German Shepherd dogs for their suitability for work, Tom put an enormous effort into a program called “TIC” – Temperament, Instinct and Character which was based on the Kamarn experience and the Fortunate Field program which bred dogs for the police, army, guide dogs for the blind, search & rescue and other security forces.   Despite his best efforts, along with a lot of other people, he failed to convince the GSDCA to adopt this program as part of its breed survey scheme.
Tom’s family was the majority shareholder of the large retail chain of hardware stores throughout Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, known as “McEwans”, which was founded around the turn of the 19th century. As was the custom, Tom worked his way up the ladder to be the Chief Executive Officer and ultimately Managing Director. After fighting off a couple of takeover bids, the family eventually sold out to Repco in the early 1980’s. Thus Tom’s very successful business background, both in Australia and overseas, has been of great use to the German Shepherd world in many ways in assisting with club and council problems over several decades. His wise and practical counsel has been appreciated by all those who have worked with him. Importantly, he still has very widespread and invaluable political and business contacts throughout Australia.  Up until recently Tom sat on the Board of the esteemed University of Melbourne Veterinary Clinic and Hospital Board of  Management.  
Tom has owned a large number of German Shepherds throughout the years, with “Nestor v Musshafen”, a German import being purchased for use by the Kamarn Breeders Foundation. Unfortunately, Nestor was only moderately successful as a stud dog but had a quite good show career.  Some of the dogs that Tom imported for Kamarn Breeders Foundation were Gault Pedro, Tanfield Grey Lady, Isa (a VA producer) & Irena Von Kirschental, Karen Lauerhof and Afra v Haus Gero. A local purchase from South Australia, “Vonwaldshoe Cass” had 48 puppies in total, but of those 48 only 2 were females! Five males from her second litter went to the New South Wales Police Force and formed the basis of their first Dog Squad.  Forty five males were donated to the Australian police forces and all graduated as successful police dogs, one male was donated to the Australian customs and made a number of major drug busts.
A New Zealand dog Tom purchased in the late 1980’s however, proved to be both an excellent show and stud dog. This of course, was the famous “Quincito Awol”. “Buddy” as he was popularly known had an excellent show career over a number of years. He won the Open Dog class at the 1988 & 1989 National shows and was dual Australian Sieger at the 1990 & 1991 Main Breed Shows and was always graded with a high Excellent/Excellent Select at those shows. As a fitting and lasting tribute to “Buddy”, Tom produced an absolutely breathtaking, fantastic colour video (approximately 8 minutes) of “Buddy” at work and play. Terrific viewing!
At about this time, Tom developed a very firm friendship with the world famous tennis player, Ivan Lendl. He provided a number of Australian bred German Shepherd dogs to Ivan, a devoted and committed German Shepherd Dog enthusiast.
Of course, Tom, in all of the above activities, has always been loyally and faithfully supported by his lovely wife Ginny, who naturally holds the German Shepherd Dog in great esteem.
Traditionally, the club has had a number of patrons over the years, with quite a number coming from the Victorian Police Force, as for a period of time, the Chief Commissioner automatically assumed the position as Patron of our Club. However, when Chief Commissioner Mick Miller retired some twelve years or so ago, Tom was an automatic and popular selection as Patron, a position he is very proud to hold and in which he takes the club’s interests and responsibilities very seriously indeed and is probably the best Patron the club has had to date.
Equally, the club is very pleased and proud to have someone as knowledgeable and capable as Tom as Patron.

 

James Rodger

Club Historian

November, 2013