Famous Dog Breeders
These breeders may be gone, but their contributions remain timeless. Icons of the Sport, Dogs in Review May 2011.
Iris De La Torre Bueno
Iris De La Torre Bueno (left)
All Celia Brussels Griffons
Iris De La Torre Bueno, famed for her top-winning All Celia Brussels Griffons, was born in 1911. Dog shows and dog clubs were just beginning to have a significant impact in America, and Iris dedicated herself to both. “I learned a lot from that lady,” says retired AKC judge Richard Thomas. “She had a big heart, and she was absolutely devoted to the breed.” Thomas owned the NYC School of Ballet with his wife Barbara when he met Iris. Their friendship endured for decades. “She had a tough façade, but she was a very kind person.”
Iris’ mother came from a prominent San Francisco family that traced its roots to medieval Flanders. She became involved with Griffons when Iris was a child, and her Belgian connections gave her access to the few remaining Belgian bloodlines. According to Pug and Griffon breeder Lorene Vickers Smith, “Celia was the real deal! She did all the early importing of our breed, along with Rosalind Layte” (Burlingame).
Iris and her mother made several trips to Belgium to import dogs from the legendary Du Clos des Orchidees line, and their All Celia breeding program was founded on pure Belgian stock. Celia registered their prefix in 1927, and they bred and finished numerous Pekes and Griffons while Iris was still in her teens.
“She was very bright,” says Thomas. “She graduated from high school at 15 and worked as a private secretary on Wall Street.” Dog clubs provided the perfect outlet for her workaholic tendencies. Iris became secretary/treasurer of the Pekingese Club of America when she was 16, and held the position for 49 years. She also served as secretary and treasurer of the American Brussels Griffon Association, before her lengthy tenure as president from 1954 to 1989.
Alfred and Esme Treen
Pryor Creek Dalmatians
Their involvement in so many facets of the sport made Alfred and Esmeralda (Esme) Treen a ubiquitous presence in the dog world for five decades. They were well known as judges, officers of all-breed and specialty clubs, authors and breeders of Group and BIS-winning Pryor Creek Dalmatians for 34 years.
Dalmatians became a serious interest for the Treens. They soon acquired their foundation stud, Ch. Forbette’s Fanfare CDX, and their foundation bitch Ch. Saint Rocco’s Polka Dog CD, and began breeding in 1950. During these years the family relocated frequently because of Al’s job with A.O. Smith. Although they couldn’t do much showing or breeding, they became active in a series of local kennel clubs throughout the Midwest.
In 1959 the Treens settled down in Wisconsin and began seriously breeding and showing their
Dals. According to Esme, they concentrated on inbreeding, and by the late '60s they had produced several notable winners such as Ch. Pryor Creek's Firecracker. The most famous dog out of their breeding was Ch. Coachman’s Chuck-A-Luck owned by John and Mary Blair.
His show record included three BIS, 19 Groups and 127 BOB. He also sired 27 champions and became the first BIS-winning Dalmatian to sire two BIS sons, Ch. Lord Jim and Ch. Roadking’s Rome. Chuck-A-Luck died in 1976, but he had a lasting influence on the breed. Ch. Fireman’s Freckled Friend, the second Dalmatian to win the Group at Westminster in 1985, traced back to Chuck-A-Luck.
In 1960, Esme, Al and several friends founded the Waukesha Kennel Club. Esme served as show chairwoman for 28 years, and Al was the club’s president and AKC delegate for 30 years. He served on the AKC board from 1977 to 1985. They were also active in the Dalmatian Club of America. Al served on the board as treasurer, vice president, president and a member of the standard and education committees.
Ralanda French Bulldogs
Amanda West’s Ralanda Kennels dominated French Bulldogs through the 1950s and '60s. She campaigned four of the breed’s top winners, Ch. Bouquet Nouvelle Ami, Ch. Ralanda Ami Francine, Ch. Ber-Neil’s Jeepers Jackie and Ch. Ralanda Ami Pierre. Altogether, they racked up 98 BIS, 401 Groups and 16 successive breed wins at Westminster.
More importantly she diligently promoted Frenchies at a time when their popularity hit an all-time low. For decades French Bulldogs had been one of the most popular breeds in Europe and America, ranking among the top five AKC breeds between 1909 and 1914. After their heyday at the turn of the century, the breed almost disappeared. In 1950, AKC registered only 68, and 20 years later only 106 were registered.
Amanda not only kept the breed in the public eye during these lean years, she set the bar for quality and ensured that the French Bulldog remained a formidable contender in Group and BIS competition. Judging by her quote reprinted in Muriel Lee’s book The French Bulldog, Amanda understood her impact on the breed and the importance of securing its future.
“We are very happy that so many prominent and well-qualified judges have recognized the Frenchie in the Group and BIS line-up and hope that all the sensational Groups and BIS awards our Frenchie has won will stimulate more interest in the breed and revive the popularity they so rightly deserve,” West says.
She began showing her Frenchies in conformation and obedience in 1946, and there was no looking back. For an inexperienced, amateur owner-handler she quickly earned a reputation as a fierce competitor. Over the years she finished only 15 dogs, but their impact at Group and BIS level was phenomenal. In total, they accumulated more than 500 Groups and 111 BIS.
The award-winning actor Paul Winfield created memorable roles in film, television, stage and voiceover for almost four decades. His work earned two Oscar nominations, three Emmy nominations and an Emmy in 1995. For almost 20 years he devoted himself to his Pugs with equal enthusiasm, breeding and showing them under his Avoncliff prefix.
Shortly afterwards, he acquired his first Pug. His mentor and friend, Blanche Roberts, recalls that this dog came to an untimely end. But Paul was hooked on the breed, and he pursued this interest with the same competitive spirit that characterized his career. In the 1980s he settled in the Hollywood Hills and purchased the first of several Blaques Pugs from Blanche.
He specialized in black Pugs, and gave them all Shakespearian names. “He got Desdemona from me, and Othello from Mary Phillips. He was completely devoted to them,” says Roberts. “He bred two or three litters a year, but he kept almost everything.” She also notes that Paul did not believe in crating. “He had them all over the house. They followed him around, slept with him and when he had a party all the Pugs were right there.”
Despite his demanding career, Paul always found time for Pugs. Both Paul and his partner of 30 years, Chuck Gillen, were active in local and national Pug clubs. Their major contribution was the Pug Club of America’s Top 20 event. Thanks to their stagecraft and Hollywood connections it became the most glamorous feature of the national specialty.
Want to read the full story? Pick up the May 2011 issue of DOGS IN REVIEW today, or subscribe to get 12 months of articles just like this.
Give us your opinion on Famous Dog Breeders
Login to get points for commenting or write your comment below
Get New Captcha