Over thirty years of dog showing provides many memories of people dogs and events. Some are happy memories, some poignant, and some, very few, sad.
Years ago, people raised and showed dogs for very different reasons than now. It was more than a hobby and certainly not an occupation or trade. The breeding and show presentation of dogs was an art form, not the technology it is today. That was "The Fancy."
There was almost a medieval chivalry about it. Competitors met in the ring, neither giving nor asking quarter. But outside the ring, competitiveness was put aside and all became dog lovers.
There are many names that are still remembered from that more gentle and gentile period - names of dogs, breeders, owners, handlers and judges - all who added their tile to the glorious mosaic that was and is The Dog Fancy.
In this column I want to tell the stories of "The Fancy." Not just my stories only, but stories that others may want to pass on so that the "Fancy" will not be forgotten.
To throw out the first ball, I want to recount a judge's speech at a KBTCNC Specialty Show dinner, in 1967, as best that I can recall.
Ellsworth Gamble was one of the most identifiable judges in the ring. He was not overly tall, but stood ramrod straight. Thin and almost "hatchet faced," waves of white hair topped fierce eyes. This year he had judged, for the second time in ten years, the Kerry Blue Terrier Club of Northern California Specialty.
In those days, a sit-down Club dinner finished off the festivities. The highlight of the dinner was always Judge's remarks on how he enjoyed and was honored to judge such magnificent animals. Well, most judges said things like that - but not Ells Gamble.
Mr. Gamble rose, his icy stare sweeping the group. "Ten years ago, when I judged the Kerries here I said that I felt that the quality had declined. Now, ten years later, I can honestly say that the quality of Kerries is even worse." Mr. Gamble sat down, to absolute silence. Even after that, Ells Gamble was a frequent guest and speaker at KBTCNC meeting and dinners.
Nell Urmston, of Trucote Kennels, was one of the most fascinating persons I have ever met. Probably second only to Millicent Hearst as the richest Kerry owner in the world, Nell was one of the most down-to-earth Kerry owner around.
Nell's first husband was Josef Schmit, a diamond broker. Her second husband was Joe Urmston, a California real estate developer. Both had been lovers of Kerries themselves. Nell also raised Wire Fox Terriers.
One of Nell's best known Kerries was Trucote Captain William. Not so well known here in the States was Capt'n's son, Flying Dutchman.
One KBTCSC Specialty, many years ago, I had the honor or standing in for Bob Jordan as Dutchman's handler in the Specials Class. Dutchman was a dream to show. He was alert and stood his ground, but was not aggressive. We didn't win, unfortunately - probably my poor handling.
Nell always kept a small photo of Dutchman in a gold frame in her purse. One time, when I inquired about breeding to him, Nell passed on to me one of the great pearls of dog wisdom:
"If you like a dog, breed to his sire!"
Reprinted with permission from Kerry Klips, the newsletter of the KBTC of Southern California