Bernice Devine Richardson

America's Bichon Frise. 
Regenerating an Ancient European Dog Breed.

In 1957 the Bichon Frise was virtually unknown in America.

Francois and Helene Picault arrived from France with five little white dogs. The breed had been registered in France for many generations and it was thought that the Bichons would readily be accepted for registration by the American Kennel Club. This was not to be. There would be a long road ahead as there were rules and regulations to follow.

It was the meeting of Azalea Gascoigne in Wisconsin and Gertrude Fournier in San Diego, California that made the difference, each with the same goal for the breed. They worked together with other dog fanciers to form a national breed club, THE BICHON FRISE CLUB of AMERICA, INC.

Through the club, a Stud Book/Registry began for all individual Bichons, and litters as they came along. First shown in the Miscellaneous Class, Bichons then went on to AKC full registration on April 4, 1973. By this time, various Bichon breeders across the country had established new family lines; most could be traced to the original Bichons of the Picaults, the Azalea imports, and those Gertrude obtained from France and Belgium.

It is my pleasure to share original photos and pedigrees, along with commentary and tales of early day activities. All for the love of the Bichon Frise. —Bernice Devine Richardson

About the author:

Bernice Devine Richardson worked at various club offices and became a Show Secretary for the large Specialty Shows the Collie Club provided so successfully. She was also a ring steward in those early years for the Silver Bay Kennel Club.

In 1965 she became the founder of The San Diego Poodle Club. She was active in the local San Diego dog clubs until 1973 when her family moved to Idaho.

She joined the Bichon Frise Club of America, Inc. in 1971, and soon became its Corresponding Secretary. She was handed a pasteboard box with 45 unanswered letters of inquiry about the breed, and began 25 years of service in that capacity. Her years spent as Corresponding Secretary were the time of the most growth in membership and breed interest. She felt it a privilege to be a part of the development of BFCA and the Bichon Frise breed. The original 45 letters of years gone by turned into more than 1000 a year. When she retired as Corresponding Secretary, her position was turned into three jobs for different people, a Secretary, a Friendship Chairman and a Local Club Coordinator; things she had worked at daily. She has always been totally dedicated to the BFCA.