Great Dame: The Lives and Loves of Lina Basquette


“Times Past,” AKC Gazette: Lina Basquette (1907–1994) did enough living for 10 lifetimes: Ziegfeld Follies dancer, movie star, widow of Sam Warner (of Warner Brothers fame), and fabulously successful breeder-handler-judge of Great Danes. Basquette handled her Honey Hollow Danes to 125 BIS, 500 group wins, and more than 1,000 BOB.

Along the way, she was married nine times to seven husbands. “I was never a boozer or pill popper,” she said. “My weakness was men.”

Basquette was a born raconteur, a go-to source for writers looking for zippy quotes to light up their copy. Here are some Basquette gems reported by Barry Paris for a New Yorker profile.

“So many get reformed through religion. I got reformed through dogs. I underwent menopause without taking even an aspirin because I was so busy whelping puppies. Dogs saved my life. I recommend having four-legged animals to cure the midlife crisis.”

“I always say, you’re only as good as the dogs you show. You walk in with a top dog, and you look terrific. But, boy, if you have a mediocre one, you’re going to look just mediocre.”

“When I met Warner Gilmore, he was the manager of the St. Moritz, but after we got married we were living in the country in a house full of dogs. He forced me to choose between him and Great Danes, and I picked the dogs. We were divorced in 1950. Never regretted it, either. I lost a couple of husbands along the way because of Great Danes, but don’t let that fool you—I’ve still got an eye for a man as well as a dog.”

“Why should I be this healthy with the life I had? Poor Rita Hayworth, Mary Astor—they all got knocked for a loop. It’s because I found this fabulous world of dogs, which started as a hobby and developed into a career. How many women have a complete, distinguished career at 81?”

Read the latest AKC Gazette here.

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Posted in AKC Gazette, Times Past

K-9 Officers are Canine Good Citizens!

Congratulations to Connecticut K-9 Officers “Saint Michael” of the Newtown Police Department and “Trent” of the Orange Police Department for passing AKC’s Canine Good Citizen test!  The law enforcement K-9 officers took the 10-step test at the Trap Falls Kennel Club’s AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Day event at Eisenhower Park in Milford, CT on Saturday, Sept. 27th.

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal presented Saint Michael, handled by Newtown Officer Felicia Figol, and Trent, handled by Orange Officer Mary Bernegger, their official CGC medals and ribbons at a ceremony in front of hundreds of dog-loving spectators, local specialty clubs holding a meet the breeds exhibit, and TFKC members who hosted the well-attended public event.

After the awards ceremony Saint Michael, Officer Figol, and Newtown Police Officer Matt Hayes, gave a demonstration of police work and K-9 training with Saint Michael.

Saint Michael, the German Shepherd Dog, was purchased last year by the AKC family of clubs, including Trap Falls Kennel Club, Newtown Kennel Club, Farmington Kennel Club, as well as with donations from AKC Reunite and the AKC Humane Fund. Trent, a black Labrador Retriever, is a narcotics detection dog with the Orange Police Department.

The Canine Good Citizen Program is designed to reward dogs who have good manners at home and in the community. The two-part program stresses responsible dog ownership for owners and basic good manners for dogs.

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal of CT visits with Newtown Police Officer Felicia Figol and K-9 Officer Saint Michael and Orange Police Officer  Mary Bernegger and K-9 Office Trent.

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal of CT visits with Newtown Police Officer Felicia Figol and K-9 Officer Saint Michael and Orange Police Officer Mary Bernegger and K-9 Office Trent.

K-9 Officers Saint Michael and Trent get Canine Good Citizen medals and ribbons from U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal at Trap Falls KC RDO Day.

K-9 Officers Saint Michael and Trent get Canine Good Citizen medals and ribbons from U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal at Trap Falls KC RDO Day.

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Posted in AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Days, Canine Good Citizen, Uncategorized

Board Member Answers Back to AKC Chairman Alan Kalter’s ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

We watched a few weeks ago as AKC Chairman Alan Kalter completed the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in memory of Dr. Bill Newman, a cherished friend of AKC, former Board member and Vice-Chairman, and dedicated champion of his beloved Mastiffs.

Now Board member, Tom Powers, answers back to Kalter. Watch as Powers accepts the challenge.

Posted in Uncategorized

Club Spotlight: McKenzie Cascade Dog Fanciers Club

Since the establishment of the McKenzie Cascade Dog Fanciers Club (MCDF) in 1983, club members have supported community projects throughout Lane County, Oregon as a way of advocating for responsible pet ownership.

Most recently, members presented 35 sets of companion animal oxygen masks to paid and volunteer fire departments in the local region, covering both the cities and rural areas.

Club member and City Councilor for Springfield, Oregon Marilee Woodrow said, “We were thrilled to have the opportunity to broaden our service by providing much needed O2 Mask Sets to the first responders in our area in order to provide help and equipment when and where it may be needed most. The masks enable them to give immediate aid to animal victims of fires, and also allow them extra time to get the animal to the veterinarian to be evaluated for further care.”

The club expanded the oxygen mask presentation into a media event with the local fire dog, Casey, to help get the word out about the importance of these masks. Check out photos from the event:

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Over the years, the club has been quite active in the community in a variety of areas, including nursing home visits, R.E.A.D. visits for children and dogs at the local library, health clinics, microchip clinics, donations to animal relief funds, disaster response, spay/neuter clinics, veterinary student scholarships and more.

From 2007 to August 2013, MCDF contributed $13,000 in support of the Springfield Police Department K-9 Units. The funds helped purchase training equipment and temperature sensitive door poppers, among other things.

The club has also donated $14,755 to local area animal services to support rescue and adoption services, low-cost spay/neuter programs and Feline Trap-Neuter-Release, pro bono pet care for the homeless, and Lane County Animal Services. The Oregon State University Veterinary Student Scholarship program has also received $30,000 from the club over the past years.

Great job, MCDF!

Posted in Club Spotlight

The Hounds of Porthos: Class and Canine Versatility

Pup Culture, By Bud Boccone: 

charles_olivier_de_penne hounds_before_the_hunt[1]

Have you seen BBC America’s The Musketeers? I like the show so much I went to the source, the novels by Alexandre Dumas that endeared generations of readers to the swashbuckling Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and D’Artagnan. With Dumas’ trilogy fresh in my mind, I’m a walking encyclopédique of Three Musketeers trivia. For instance, did you know that Porthos, the lovable giant of the group, was a serious dog guy?

By the final book, The Man in the Iron Mask, old Porthos has done very well for himself. No longer a mere soldier, he’s the baron du Vallon de Bracieux de Pierrefonds, lord of a vast country estate.

When Porthos dies, his will is read to assembled friends. It provides a glimpse of how French nobles lived in the time of Louis XIV. The long catalog of the baron’s possessions includes:

“Sixty dogs, forming six packs, divided as follows: the first for stags, the second for wolves, the third for boars, the fourth for rabbits, and two others for arresting and guarding.”

The 17th-century French nobility really did have a hound for every occasion. The Grand Bleu de Gascone, the Chien Blanc du Roi, and the Ariege Hound, each specializing on a particular type of quarry, were just a few breeds likely to be found in the baron’s kennels. The two “arresting and guarding” dogs might’ve been Dogues de Bordeaux. And the baroness no doubt had a platoon of Papillons keeping her company while Porthos was off musketeering with his buddies.

We’re talking 60-something highly specialized dogs, most of them kept just for sport and amusement. Sacre bleu! That’s a lot of dog chow! Across the Channel, the kennels of British nobles housed equally ostentatious packs of specialist hounds, fox terriers, and sporting dogs. Throughout history, from the pharaoh’s Egypt to the tsar’s Russia, only the ruling elite had the luxury of feeding nonessential mouths.

Things were very different down the road from the manor house, where peasants could barely feed themselves let alone packs of hounds. Shepherds and tenant farmers of pre-industrial Europe bred for versatility. They had no choice. The one dog a poor man could afford to keep might be called upon to be a ratter, herder, drover, guarder, retriever, courser, and carter.

No surprise, then, that many breeds known today for versatility (pinscher-schnauzers, Britain’s collies and large terriers, German and Belgian shepherds among them) descend not from the haughty hounds of Porthos, but from peasant dogs that toiled in pastures and barnyards.

Until fairly recently history was written by the well-off, about the well-off, for the well-off. The working poor responsible for breakthroughs in mechanics, agriculture, and animal husbandry lacked the education and leisure to record their accomplishments for posterity, and gentleman historians considered such things beneath their notice. Happily, the story of a vital working-class achievement—the creation of smart, versatile dogs that helped to feed and clothe people of all classes—is written in the DNA of many popular breeds.


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Posted in Pup Culture

60th Anniversary of First AKC Obedience Trial in Alaska

Happy anniversary, Dog Obedience Training Club of Anchorage, Inc.! The club, which was formed before Alaska even achieved statehood, is celebrating 60 years of AKC obedience trials this October. Vice President and Trial Chairperson Rose Munafo shared this great look back at the club’s past with us :  

In the winter of 1950-1951, a group of friends got together to form the Obedience Training Club of Anchorage, the name the club went by for several years.  That January remains in the top ten coldest Januarys in Anchorage, reaching minus 32 degrees on January 18 & 19, 1951. Anchorage at that time was a small city by lower 48 standards. The largest city in the Territory of Alaska did not have many amenities.   The city had gotten its first traffic light in 1949 and still had many gravel roads, some of which would still be in use in the mid-1970’s.  The cost of living at that time was about three times higher than in the lower 48 states.  The first television station would not come on air until two years later in December 1953.  Needless to say, all of these conditions were conducive to friends getting together to develop activities for their spare time.

The first AKC Obedience Trial was held on September 5, 1954 at the hockey rink in downtown Anchorage.  This area is an 11-block area that was established as part of the original township in 1917.  It was originally Anchorage’s airfield, as well as being a golf course in later years.   The area, known as the Delaney Park Strip after an early mayor, remains a central meeting place for ceremonies and festivities in downtown Anchorage today.  At the first trial, only Novice A and B were offered.  There were only two dogs that would be eligible to compete in the higher classes at that time and it was cost-prohibitive to fly up a judge that was approved for higher classes in order to cover those two entries.

The photo of the qualifiers from the first trial includes the following (from left to right):  Harry Braun & Corsair, Maralee Columbia & Blitzen, Barbara Berg & Sassie, Judge Mrs. Marjorie E. B. Hess, Jean Sellens & Yakatat, Barbara Ann Berg & Gay, Barbara Parker & Rex, Kit McInnes & Oslo, Roberta Goldberg & Mike.

The photo of the qualifiers from the first trial includes the following (from left to right): Harry Braun & Corsair, Maralee Columbia & Blitzen, Barbara Berg & Sassie, Judge Mrs. Marjorie E. B. Hess, Jean Sellens & Yakatat, Barbara Ann Berg & Gay, Barbara Parker & Rex, Kit McInnes & Oslo, Roberta Goldberg & Mike.

The club continued and grew after the first trial.  It offered classes at various facilities throughout Anchorage through the years.  It is difficult to trace the history of the club in the early years.  What limited information the club has comes from Maralee Columbia, a founding member who is now deceased.  About ten years ago, she dictated a short history of the early years.   On Good Friday, March 27, 1964, a 9.2 earthquake hit Alaska, with its epicenter 75 miles from Anchorage.  This was the most powerful earthquake in North American history and the second strongest in recorded history for the world.  At that time, the club’s records were stored in club secretary Lillian Fried’s basement.  When the earthquake hit, her house and all its contents were buried in Turnagain Arm, a narrow branch of Cook Inlet.  Presumably, the Club’s records are still there.  Julie Durych, a member since 1966, recalls that one “requirement” for joining DOTCA in the early days was based on your ability to play bridge (winters are long here).

In March 1967, the club was incorporated by the State of Alaska as the Dog Obedience Training Club of Anchorage.  The club continued its activities of teaching classes and offering obedience trials throughout the years.  It offered the first Rally trial in Alaska in February 2005 and ventured into offering Agility trials for several years.  The Club continues to offer AKC obedience and rally trials in Alaska.  The winter trials are held on the same weekend that the Iditarod Sled Dog race begins in downtown Anchorage. By starting the Saturday trial in the afternoon, the judges can watch the start of the Iditarod. The opportunity to watch a world-class sled dog event has enabled DOTCA to attract judges from all parts of the country.  The October trials help dog handlers make the transition to the long winter days and indoor trials.

We will celebrate our anniversary on October 18, 2014 by inviting all of the Alaska dog community to join us for cake and stories. We are using the photo of the participants in 1954’s first trial to make t-shirts to commemorate this milestone.

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Posted in Dog Sports

Power Cords: The Photo that Put the Rock in Komondorok

“Times Past,” AKC Gazette: Probably the most widely circulated image in the Gazette collection was the brainchild of photographer Joan Ludwidg (1914–2004), whose eye for the odd, the comic, the ironic was unmatched among her ringside peers.

PHOTO 1_ludwig


The unidentified Komondor was photographed in the mid-1970s, most likely in California. The surreal-looking picture appeared on the cover of the July 1977 Gazette and was then reproduced in newspapers, books, and magazines for years thereafter.

PHOTO 2 beck-odelay


In 1996, the pop star Beck used an alternate take from the same photo session as cover art for his double-platinum album Odelay, endearing the Hungarian flock dog to indie-rock fans the world over.

Read the latest AKC Gazette here.

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Posted in AKC Gazette

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