Dogs weren’t always a part of my early life. My parents were raised during the Depression Era and mostly believed any animal not raised for food was just an added expense to the family budget. Plus in my home town of Neosho, MO fenced yards were far and few, but they promised if we ever moved (fat chance I’m sure they thought!) we could have a fenced yard and a dog. In 1968 my dad was transferred to Tulsa with Rockwell International and to my sister and my delight EVERY house in Tulsa seemed to have a fenced yard! The folks reluctantly held true to their promise and a Chocolate Miniature “French” Poodle joined our family. He was crazy smart and eventually I picked up a pair of clippers and discovered I could make him look almost as good as when he came home from the grooming shop. In high school I attended my first ever dog show hosted by the Mid-Continent Kennel Club of Tulsa. I came home knowing someday I would have either a Great Dane or a Wire Fox Terrier, what a range! Then came college/fraternity/1st job etc. and no time to even think about owning a dog, although watching late night old movies I became fascinated with The Thin Man series of movies shot in the 1930’s. It was a husband/wife comedy/detective/murder mystery series of movies and the couple’s Wire Fox Terrier “Asta” always ended up leading them to a clue and solving the crime. That was it, I had to have a Wire someday.
After college I met Doris and we were married in June of 1985. Doris WAS from a dog owning family with many dogs over the years and when I showed her a picture of a Wire she was sold. We found a Wire puppy in the fall of ’85 and he became our first child. Clancy was smart and wise and completely in tune to both of us and ran our household for the next 12 and ½ years. We always joked that while he dutifully accepted and loved our first daughter, and then the addition of a Soft Coated Wheaten puppy from Nona Harwell (MCKC member) and then our 2nd daughter, he probably secretly wished we could find them all a nice home in the country and go back to just the three of us.
We lived in Dallas much of that time and met a group from the North Texas Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club and made some wonderful friends that we still keep up with today. I had planned to add a 2nd Wire, but the daunting task of hand stripping which I learned on poor Clancy seemed too much so after meeting the Wheaten folks I decided the coat maintenance requiring only scissoring would be easier….RIGHT!! They are wonderful dogs and although we still lived in Dallas we met Charles and Phyllis Simmons who were here in Tulsa(and more MCKC members) and quickly became part of their “show dog family”. The Simmon’s “Grooming table buffets” always after Wheaten Best of Breed were fantastic and a hugely popular event back in the grooming area of most shows and our circle of dog friends grew ever bigger. I had promised Nona I would show the bitch puppy we bought and breed her and sure enough I finished her Championship all owner handled and groomed(with LOTS of help) and I was hooked on the sport of dogs.
We moved back to Tulsa in 1990 and bred a litter of Wheatens, but the growing time constraints of work and a growing family made me realize I really did need a more wash and wear breed and wanting to stay in the Terrier Group decided Smooth Fox Terriers would work perfectly. Over the next 20 years we had many Smooths and found them to be a wonderful breed and great show dog as well as family pet. Many of your remember Spanky, from our 2nd litter of Smooths. He was the ultimate house dog/show dog/ and gentleman of the Terrier World. He helped train several junior handlers in classes hosted by MCKC, quietly kept our other dogs(and visitor dogs) in line, watched our daughters and their friends as they played, escorted company to their cars when it was time to go home(needed to make sure they really left you know) and was devoted to both Doris and me. We didn’t breed that many litters, but I did become somewhat known as a pretty good groomer/exhibitor over the years and helped many in the Smooth Fox world show and finish their dogs. When we did have puppies or dogs to place and I was asked if Smooths were smart I always answered YES, but in a clever, not obedient, sort of way. Most weren’t so interested in fetching the paper or your slippers, but could easily devise a game to engage you. Some of the games they came up with weren’t always so positive so it helped to keep them busy, but such is life with Smooths and most terriers! We found over the years with Smooths we could let them run and play together for the most part as long as I was present and in charge. As soon as I left, however, the power struggles began so no leaving them all day to work things out unless you wanted to come home to a bloody ear or two!
By 1995 I had finally managed to attend the required number of MCKC meetings to join. Back then you had to attend 3(or 4?) CONSECUTIVE meetings to qualify for application (if you missed one you started over) and let me tell you it was a huge challenge between family/kids and work travel! Shortly after joining MCKC I became more acquainted with Bob Tucker. Bob was just retiring and always had a nice Scotty either of his own breeding or one someone had brought him to condition and train. He and I began traveling to shows with whatever dogs we had available and Bob’s mentorship in dog shows, grooming, conditioning, travel, and friendship have been priceless and his circle of friends in the dog world is never ending. I’ve benefited greatly and learned so much just by tagging along over the last 20+ years!
Over the years I’ve always admired the Hound Group as they historically mesh well with many Terriers. While we loved our Smooths I wanted to see how life would be with dogs more pack oriented. Doris had grown up with Dachshunds and had always wanted one and I knew my way around a stripping knife so in came a Wirehaired Mini Dachshund from Robbie Loyd’s EZGoin line of BIS winners. Little Winnie was a bit timid at first and I told Robbie our tough Smooths would either bring her up to their level or else crush her beyond recognition in which case I would bring her back. Well rise to the occasion she did! I was still showing one of our Smooths as an Owner Handled Special and she would escort Winnie to ringside giving her plenty of confidence to sail around the ring and easily finish her Championship. Wire Dachshunds have just enough Terrier blood to keep them clever and up on their toes, but enough Hound to give them that sweet and caring temperament. They are wonderful, but spunky little house dogs and we’ve somehow ended up with three of them. Kind of like Lay’s potato chips!
While our entry into the Hound Group with the Wire Doxies was fun and they are really high on the “So stinkin’ cute list” I mentioned to Linda Clark I had always preferred a dog with legs and a 15” Beagle would probably work well for me. She had a litter of 15” Beagle puppies and next thing we knew she and I had struck a deal to take one home. Well bred “Duke” has been a fantastic show dog finishing his Grand Championship and two OH BIS’s to date plus several regular group placements and has been such a pleasing addition to our household. He’s a typical Beagle/Hound with a sometimes head strong personality, but he loves both Doris and I, plus the other dogs, plus our extended family and grandsons, PLUS just about anyone who walks into our house. He’s a perfect gentleman in the house and a showman in the ring, what a wonderful introduction to the world of Hounds, thank you Linda!
As you can see we’ve had so many great dogs through our home over the years, each one bringing its own personality and breed characteristics and I know so many of you have the same stories to share. But as I’m sure most will agree it’s not just the dogs: through it all are the people. So many good friends and acquaintances made over the years, too many to list here but you know who you are. I look forward to many more experiences and “tails” to share!