Photo by Alan V Walker
Anne Rogers-Clark with her BIS Windsor 1998 the Irish Wolfhound Malley’s Ch Ballyphelan Bran Beag, pictured with Mrs Liz Cartledge, Mr Ken Rawlings and Mrs Irene Terry
TRIBUTES WILL be flooding in to the dog press all over the world on hearing the news that Mrs Anne Rogers Clark passed away on December 20 after a six year battle with cancer, which she determinedly and bravely fought to the very end.
A larger than life character, Annie achieved greatness in every aspect of the dog game - as a handler, judge, breeder, lecturer and writer. For me she was the most accomplished dog person I have ever known; a true professional, a great judge who commanded every judging ring she ever stepped into. She could hold and mesmerise any ringside, always giving the exhibitors clear and precise instructions how she wanted things to be done in that clear, precise voice of hers. She was pure magic to watch.
Others will write in detail about Annie’s great achievements (there were so many, all at top level); I should like to write about her as a friend. When my husband Joe and I first ran trips to Westminster show in the 70s I recall being completely awestruck meeting Mr and Mrs James Edward Clark for the first time. I felt like the proverbial ‘country bumpkin’ seeing this famous lady, so very tall and with an aura and presence about her of which you could not fail to be aware. With Jim, so handsome and charming, they made quite a dash.
Clearly a devoted couple, Annie took it very hard to lose her Jim, as I did Joe, to the dreaded big C. This fact and other common denominators over many years started a unique friendship that I valued enormously. Both Capricorns, we used to read and compare the UK and US horoscopes over the phone, picking out only the good bits and ignoring any negative vibes!
We both loved Norfolk Terriers Annie’s first love of course was Poodles while mine was Corgis. Interesting too that Annie fell for Hilda (the love of my life Heeler) when she stayed with me in Binfield. So much so that she booked a Hilda daughter to join her small ‘pack’ of Norfolks and Standard Poodles at Sealark Farm. Great success at first but then one day there was a nasty fight when two Norfolks and Annie’s Heeler set about a frail old Poodle, so Hesta went to love with Betsy’s mum where she still is today.
Betsy is that marvellous girl who has looked after Annie through her long illness, with the patience of an angel, as well as her great nursing skills and utter devotion. She has been Annie’s rock and has literally put her own life on hold in order to keep Annie comfortable. She will keep Annie’s remaining dogs the way she would have wanted.
We spent some very good times together on the more recent occasions, when Annie came over to England to judge: LKA, International Junior Handling Final at Crufts, Windsor twice and the Norfolk Terrier Club centenary???? With Feffie Somerfield, we took a little holiday touring Yorkshire which I shall always treasure. I stayed with Annie at Sealark Farm and got an insight into how the great Annie lived when she was not out and about on the judging circuit.
Annie had a great collection of ladybird (or ‘ladybug’, as they say in the states) models; I collect owls, so whenever we met we exchanged ladybirds and owls! I know I will never be able to look at an ornament or piece of jewellery in the shape of a ladybird without thinking of Annie.
A totally unique and very special person, I feel immensely proud to have been one of her friends. Surrounded by close friends at Betsy’s home, just a couple of days before she died, Annie was able to speak to me to say her goodbyes. She also spoke to other friends who couldn’t be with her. Annie went out at peace with the world. I shall miss her so much.
WITH THE death of Anne Rogers Clark, dogdom and the world at large has lost a great lady. Her knowledge of dogs was profound, her experience vast, and in the show ring her judgement was fair and incisive, but always kind and delivered in the spirit of helpfulness.
Annie was popular and held in high regard wherever she went; valued for her modesty and graciousness, she judged for us twice at Windsor and proved herself to be one of the most likeable and respected judges we have ever had.
It is good that she has left behind a book published not so long ago of her history of a lifetime in dogs, full of anecdotes, humour and much wisdom which will serve as her epitaph. I have an inscribed copy of that book, and it is a valued part of my canine library.
Sadly in the world of today in a few years Annie, like so many of the greats, will be just a name to the rank and file of dogdom, but to those of us who knew her, her memory will live on.
Farewell, Annie, it was a privilege to know you.
I FIRST met Annie, then the young and promising professional handler Anne Hone-Rogers, briefly when she was on what I think was her first visit to Europe with one of her patrons, the late Mrs Milton-Erlanger, for whom she had shown with great success, during the late 50s.
This was a time when many extremely rich Americans were interested in acquiring and showing some of the UK’s absolutely top Miniature Poodles and were paying prices beyond the dreams of most breeders. It was a new concept to many over here that the dogs generally did not live with their owners, but with their handlers, rather the same idea as owning racehorses.
If you followed the American dog magazines, the name of Anne Hone-Rogers appeared more and more frequently. To me, then also a young breeders, Anne became a sort of Poodle deity and role model, though I knew I could never come anywhere near the standards of perfection her charges portrayed. Dogs which in this country had appeared fairly ordinary were completely transformed by her handling and presentation and went right to the top.
When the millionaire banker Clarence Dillon, on a visit to England, bought the young Ch Rudolph of Piperscroft daughter Fontclair Festoon from Dody Jenkins, with whom I lived and whose dogs I looked after, we followed her meteoric career in the hands of Anne with great interest. This culminated with her win of Best in show at Westminster.
It was always a great sorrow to Anne that Mr Dillon would not allow Festoon to retire at Anne’s home, but kept her in his own kennels. Annie not only considered her the best dog of any breed she had ever handled, but also really loved her. She later had some of her descendants.
I met up with Annie again when she came over here to judge. She was very keen to see Rudolpy, who was quite an old dog by then, and we took him to meet her at a party given in her honour.
She had him on her lap and had tears in her eyes, she had for a long time wanted to meet Festoon’s sire and was really moved to see this great old dog.
To watch Annie judging any breed was an education. Being six foot tall, she was an imposing figure and her way of placing dogs in order throughout huge classes and her concentration were fascinating to watch. Even if you did not agree with all the results, you could follow her train of thought through exactly.
For its centenary in 1976, the Poodle Club invited all American judges to officiate for the three varieties. Annie did an enormous entry of Toys. By then she had become Mrs James Edward Clark and the charming, urbane Jim accompanied her and we were able to spend some time together at some of the social functions held for the centenary.
After a long gap, during which time Annie had been widowed, I met her again when she was the inspired choice to judge the International Junior Handling competition at Crufts. As a helper in the Overseas Lounge, I was due to go to the JH dinner and knew Annie would be there. She was sitting in the hotel lobby and I went up and asked her if she remembered me. Her reply was to hug me and tell me how pleased she was to see me again. At the dinner, where all the youngsters are invited to give some sort of CV, she too got up and gave a brief CV, including her age in the same way, which endeared her to everyone present.
After that she came to England again several times to judge, and we were able to meet up. A notable occasion was when Annie, Liz Cartledge, Irene Terry and I did a day trip to Lille, travelling first class Eurostar. We had tremendous fun and came back laden with goodies. I remember the wheels came off my very cheap wheeled suitcase and Annie just heaved it up and insisted on carrying it for me. I have a snapshot somewhere, which is a sort of Little and Large, Annie and Liz in the middle and Irene and I flanking them!
Annie collected anything to do with ladybirds - ladybugs - and I often sent her little items with ladybirds that I came across. She could not exactly be called a great letter writer, but very occasionally I had a note and more frequently messages via Liz Cartledge, who kept in close touch.
I met Annie a couple more times after she had already been diagnosed with cancer, but still carried on judging. Though she was so busy as its President at the Poodle Club of America, we were able to have a bit of time. I watched Surrey Spice Girl, bred by Annie and a descendant of Ch Fontclair Festoon win BoV. She later finished her career, like Festoon, with BIS at Westminster, which gave Annie the most enormous thrill.
Many tributes will no doubt be paid to one of the greatest personalities in the world of dogs. I just wanted to pay a small personal tribute to a friend, whom I did not see very often, but valued greatly.