Dr Herm David PhD
Herman Hartzill David Jr. died January 8, 2007 at the Veterans' Administration hospital in New York City after a rewarding, although very personally private, life. He was 88.
Inducted during WWII as an Army public relations specialist, Herm served 17 months before being honorably discharged in 1943. The Cleveland, Ohio native was a collector of rare and important books on canines, a news reporter, editor and consultant and senior columnist with Dog World magazine (America) for 30 years where he addressed issues the public should know about and the inevitable politics of persuasion.
As America's most commended ‘dog writer’ since the passing of his long time friend Maxwell Riddle he will be remembered by those who actually knew him as something special. An era has ended!
Herm was unusually honest and direct, not afraid to tell the truth after exhaustive research he made available to all he could. He questioned circumstances and refuted wrong info, the public should not be deceived, said David, they need to believe us.
‘Dr. David’ as he liked to be called was credentialed in 'human dynamics' and was a kind, gentle man whose friends included prominent men of science and sportsmen who preferred going to field with their dogs, especially the Red Setter club where Herm favoured performance over a suspect pedigree when evaluating a dog, and he thought little of canine beauty contests. His own dog was a Red but his ownership ended when he moved to NY, then settled into a tiny third floor apartment in Hoboken, NJ from where he wrote hundreds of articles for dog lovers and provided an example for others to pursue the interesting, and educate the interested.
As editor of Dogs magazine in 1970 Herm partnered-up with friend Dr. Michael Fox to see for himself the mid-west ‘puppy mills’ resulting from a depressed farm economy that led many to change produce from ‘hogs to dogs.’ Herm was there with camera and verse to tell the story that made a painful impression on the honest little son of a lawyer documenting the ‘big lie’ about breeding ‘purebred’ dogs.
Herm described himself as ‘a depression-scarred kid. Waste not, want not. Eat all your food,’ noting ‘there were millions of children hungry tonight because they have no food to eat.’ With that experience he saved everything, literally, especially his most valued and cherished books, the evidence of his attention and allegiance to dogs and the children of friends he presented with gifts he never had. His concern for children whose unexpected loss of a beloved puppy that might have been prevented, was always on his mind. He hated that any dog was put down before its time.
Comfortable in public, eager to met others and polite to a fault unless provoked, he was also a friend of mine, confidante, mentor and expert for all things ‘dog.’ One of a kind Cynologist, and I was honoured to be a friend of his, with him until the day before he died. His garbled final words of advice after a recent stroke, ‘don't get old, this is a hard way to die!’
Herm David will be remembered by some for his dog articles, by others for making waves in a very small pond, and by the few who actually knew him as an honest man just trying to help.
Herm David was a friend and dog writing mentor for me in the late 60s. In the early seventies we were the first to expose the horrors of puppy mill commercial breeders.
He had a quick mind, a perceptive eye and a dry wit that made knowing and working with him a pleasure and an education.
The world of dogs has lost an 'old dog' who was their conscience for many years. I pray that his passion for people treating and respecting dogs right will be his enduring legacy for the good of man's best friend and for the ultimate benefit of our own humanity.
Michael W Fox DVM
I was sorry to hear of the death of Herm David whom I first met in 1992 at one of the Westminster Show satellite events.
The upmarket receptions were not his scene but nevertheless he was inevitably surrounded by like minded enthusiasts in some smoky bar opposite Madison Square Garden.
He was clearly passionate about dogs and their care and opened my eyes to the scale of indiscriminate breeding in America and the hand that some registries had in this.
There followed many trans-atlantic calls, long conversations and brown envelopes containing reams of photo-copies to prove points discussed. As the other contributors here have said he was a thorn in the side of those who quietly exploited dogs to no small tune.
We have to ask, as this thin line of literary foot soldiers is depleted - who, or what, is coming up to replace them?