Hunting/Working Airedales Inc.
Members' Section

Brief History of HWA

The roots of the Hunting Working Airedales, Inc [HWA] organization grew from friendships among members of the Airedale Terrier Club of America (ATCA) who used their Airedales for recreational hunting.

Three ATCA member breeders were instrumental in promoting the renewed interest in hunting Airedales: Stephen Gilbert (Ohio); E. Forbes Gordon (Texas); and Simon “Park” Peters (Michigan).

By 1985 the three men had determined that there was significant interest among their fellow Airedale breeders to explore to what extent the Airedale maintained the hunting instincts and abilities of the breed’s founding stock. At the ATCA’s 1985 General Meeting, a motion was approved for the formation of the ATCA Hunting/Working Committee.

The first official action of the ATCA Hunting/Working Committee was to request that the American Kennel Club admit Airedales to AKC Hunt Tests. Airedale breeders valued AKC recognition of Airedales as hunting dogs because hunting was part of the breed’s heritage. In addition, AKC hunt titles earned by Airedales would appear on AKC pedigrees, and thus take their place with any conformation or performance titles earned.

The American Kennel Club declined to open its Hunt Tests to Airedales, but suggested that the Hunting/Working (H/W) Committee develop its own hunt test using AKC Hunt Tests as models. In 1986 the H/W Committee held its first national Hunting/Working Weekend. This event brought together Airedales and owners interested in testing the breed’s versatility in hunting upland game, waterfowl, and raccoon. Through the H/W Weekends (and year-long efforts between them) the H/W Committee pursued the goal of promoting Airedale hunting activities.

By 1989 the H/W Committee instituted AKC-approved “Guidelines for Experimental Hunt Tests.” Those guidelines, and further consultations with AKC officials, led to the development AKC-approved official ATCA Hunt Tests and Hunt Titles in 1993.

The annual H/W Weekends, which would later alternately be called “H/W Nationals” and eventually, “Airedale Field Nationals,” provided the opportunity for Airedale owners to learn from sporting dog experts invited to conduct workshops and judge the tests. The input of the gun dog experts was instrumental in the steady improvement of participating Airedales and their handlers. Many Airedales earned ATCA-sponsored Hunt Test Titles in Upland Game (Flushing), Retrieving, and Fur (tracking raccoons).

In 2000, the ATCA Hunting/Working Committee presented the AKC with a fully-developed “Proposal for Admittance of Airedales Terriers to AKC Hunt Tests.” It was denied. However, the Committee continued to develop its programs through its national and regional hunt tests and workshops.

In 2007, the Hunting Working Airedales, Inc. organization was incorporated separately by the then-members of the ATCA Hunting/Working Committee. By 2009, after almost 25 years of continuous effort, the HWA members applauded the achievement of their long-term goals of having Airedales admitted to both the UKC’s Hunting Retriever Hunt Test program and the AKC’s Spaniel Hunt Test Programs.

2010 was a banner year for HWA members and their dogs ~ topping it off with Deanna Corboy-Lulik's "Kaleigh" winning THE FIRST AIREDALE TERRIER MASTER HUNTER title in August.

2011 was also extraordinary ~ especially at our 26th Field Nationals ~ as was 2012, with many dogs achieving new and additional titles at the 27th Annual Field Nationals.

We look forward to even more accolades for Airedales and their owners in 2013!


Randy Cooley was an advocate for the hunting Airedale Terrier, but that wasn’t always so. When he asked his wife Sandi for a Lab that he could train for hunting she made him a deal. He could have the Lab, if she could have an Airedale. Sandi was the one in the family who had known an Airedale as a youngster and vowed to own one as an adult. Randy would be content for many years training and running his Lab in hunt trials while Sandi had her beloved Airedale.

When his Lab died in 1994, Randy and Sandi got another so that Randy could continue his hunting. At around the same time Sandi was looking for her next Airedale puppy. A friend and local Airedale breeder, Mareth Kipp, knowing Randy loved hunting, told Randy and Sandi about the hunting Airedales she had seen in Ohio. She told them about a group from the Airedale Terrier Club of America (ATCA) that had started training and hunt testing Airedales in an effort to bring the Airedale back to hunting prominence. The two received an Airedale puppy from Mareth and Randy, being curious, decided to have a professional trainer test the Airedale for hunting ability. It turned out the Airedale, Ch Moraine Prime Minister MHV (Winston), had the potential to be a both a breed champion and a first class hunting dog!

In years that followed, Randy Cooley not only hunted with his Airedale Winston, he also became an ambassador for the breed. He was fascinated by the abilities of Airedales and loved the challenge of training a lesser known hunting breed. As a result of his work with Airedales, many of us first learned of the hunting Airedale.

Randy started a regional ATCA hunting test in Wisconsin in 1998. Sadly, he died suddenly of a heart attack in 2002. The following year the ATCA decided to carry on the hunt test in his honor. In 2010 we celebrated the 8th year of the Randall Cooley Memorial Hunting test by holding the test as a licensed AKC Spaniel test for the first time. Randy would be very proud to be part of what the event has become and the ATCA is proud to hold the test in his memory.

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