"A Tribute to my Dad"

Dad’s interest in dogs began quite early in his childhood, his father & grandfather had Cocker Spaniels under the “Balancrum” prefix.


As he grew, together they started showing & breeding & together they were quite successful in their time, always very thorough in their quest to better the breed & gain a better understanding of genetics.


Dad continued with his interest in dogs when immigrating to Australia in 1954, he purchased his first German Shepherd from June Tobin (“Bieda” kennels, Melbourne) in 1957.


In 1962, Dad together with Bill Hoffman & Russ Kennedy were some of the first judges to obtain their All Breeds Judges licence in the ACT.


During the next few years Dad mentored a young Louis Donald (“Bratara” kennels) about the finer details of the German Shepherd, the structure of dogs & of course genetics. Dad believed that you couldn’t show & judge at the same time, so he entrusted Louie with all of his show stock, including mother & daughter Ch. Glen Angus Toni 1 & Ch.Glen Angus Contessa 2 who were to become Louie’s foundation stock.

The 1st German Shepherd Dog National was held in Sydney, 1967.

Louie Donald entered and won with Ch. Glen Angus Toni wining the 1st Gold Medal and namely titled as the “First Grand Victrix” along with Ch. Glen Angus Contessa wining the 2nd Silver Medal & both were graded EX V 1.  This was a very proud moment for my Dad to say the least!

Louie then entered the 2nd German Shepherd Dog National in 1972 & won the 1st Gold Medal with “Ch. Horand Prince Huzzar”, 2nd Silver Medal “Bratara Cossack” and 1st Gold Medal with “Bratara Adele and the 3rd Bronze Medal with “Bratara Duchess”.

All these lovely dogs were all descendants to Dad's Toni, "Ch. Glen Angus Toni".

During his judging career, Dad judged in all states of Australia & in New Zealand. He judged many breed speciality shows & at 3 Royal shows including, Toowoomba, Perth & Canberra.

His passion was dogs and one of the best memories that I remember, which always brings a smile to my face was that every year at the Canberra Royal, Dad together with Russ Kennedy would just stand up at the landing of the ACTCA office, leaning on the hand railings smoking away, with a watchful eye just checking everyone out & and making sure that the judges were doing the right thing!


Dad was extensively involved in the Canberra Canine world over the years, the foundation President of the "Canberra Non Sporting & Working Dog Club"; the foundation Treasurer of the "Canberra Companion Dog Club" & of course he also played a major part in starting & further developing the “ACT German Shepherd Dog Club”.

Dad along with Bill Hoffman played a major part of the then CKA’s (ACTCA now Dogs ACT) “Judges Training Scheme”. He served many years on the CKA Council & served for a period of Vice President. He also served as the CKA delegate at the ANKC for many years. He became a life member of the CKA in 1979.

Dad was also responsible in starting the “The ACT Junior Kennel Club”; he really believed that the future of dog shows, as we know it, was to encourage our junior handlers. He wanted to teach & guide them in what it meant to run a dog club & to organise dog shows. Dad was very proud of the Junior Kennel Club as they showed him what they had learnt & understood from his involvement, their efforts evident as their shows were always very well organised, from the beautiful trophy tables to the catalogues and raffles. Everything was done in a very professional manner. But the one thing that Dad was really pleased about was the fact that they enjoyed it!

When Dad passed away our family received flowers, phone calls & cards offering sympathy, support & comfort with his passing. There had been numerous emails from various dog show email lists offering an insight to just how much Dad was respected in the dog show scene and there is one in particular, that stood out and I believe that it describes Dad to a tee and says it all:


“What a wealth of knowledge this man had for all breeds of dogs but his love of the German Shepherds was always at the forefront. Ian was always willing to give of his time and would stand for hours with you, outside the rings in Canberra, explaining things you didn’t understand and teaching us more about individual breeds. His love of dog shows was so great that he was always at a show even when not judging, and he was always judging somewhere as he was so well liked as a person and respected as a judge. We won under Ian and we lost under Ian but we always knew why we had lost and we understood and respected his decision. Although we had not seen Ian for a few years, we would always check in with his daughter Carol as to how he was doing and what was happening in his life

The dog shows that happen in the heavens above will now be enriched by one of our longstanding excellent all breeds judges - Ian Stirton. Our condolences to his family.

RIP Ian. John and Leslie Tanks – Shelbrae Kennels

ACT Junior Kennel Club Championship Ian Stirton Memorial Dog Show

On the 15th December 2012, a memorial dog show was held in honour of my Dad by the ACT Junior Kennel Club.

Our family donated over $2,000 worth of Stuart & Bohemia Crystal for this show. We felt that we wanted the winners to have something special to remember their win!

Dad was one of the founders of the Junior Kennel Club and was a strong believer that the future of dog showing , as we know it, is with our junior handlers and he thought that this could be nurtered by the juniors by having their own club. They were to be guided by their elders on how a show is organised right from the start. This ranged from contracting a judge, advertising of the show schedule, manage entries, printing of the catalogue, buying trophies and of course the organising on the day of the show!

I know that Dad would be very proud on the way the Club has developed over the years and that there is still a strong representation of junior handlers and experienced comittee members who are encouraging the juniors in every aspect dog showing!
The mother & daughter team wining at the 1st GSD Speciality!