“WEAR” It All Began
An interview with Doris Wear, Stoney Meadows, by Sharon Sakson.
“Reprinted from The Whippet Magazine, by permission of the author Sharon Sakson.”
For anyone interested in Whippets, Mrs. William Potter Wear simply does not need an introduction. She started in the breed 42 years ago, and has exhibited, bred, and judged Whippets ever since. And, although she likes to joke that her main accomplishment is outlasting everybody else, those of us who own Whippets know that her contribution has been so much more. In any collection of Whippet pedigrees, her Stoney Meadows prefix will appear amazingly often. Not so amazing, perhaps, when you consider the high quality of the Whippets she has bred over the years. Many of us are deeply indebted to Mrs. Wear for improving the breed, upholding the standard, judging consistently and fairly, being a model sportswoman, a good critic, a loyal friend, and a kind of patient teacher to those of us who are new in the breed and have come to her with questions. Many of you who will read these words may look through your own pedigrees and realize, that without Mrs. William Potter Wear and Stoney Meadows, you would not have those beautiful Whippets that grace your life today.
Mrs. Wear lives on Enterprise Farm, on Maryland’s quite Eastern Shore. The farm is tucked away beneath oak and pine trees. The Sassafras River winds down one side, providing a spectacular view and a natural boundary which neither the resident angus cattle, Fox Terriers, nor Whippets can cross.
Across from the house are the kennels and the home of the kennel manager, and beyond that, the barns, where Mrs. Wear once kept her horses. Things are much the same here as they were in 1961, when the Wears together built this house.
“After Potter’s heart attack, I wanted to get him as far away from the city (Philadelphia) as I could. He needed peace and quiet, and I made sure he got it. First we moved to Cambridge, farther down the bay; then we bought this place. Potter was very active, he had the bank, and the newspaper. Here, he had his Angus cattle and his Fox Terriers.”
William Potter Wear, respected Fox Terrier breeder and judge, died in May, 1985. His Stoney Meadows Fox Terriers are still very much in evidence. Mrs. Wear shows a Fox Terrier bitch she bred from her husband’s stock.
The kennel is a wooden building with wire fenced runs. You enter into a main reception area— “This was envisioned to be my office,” says Mrs. Wear. “I was going to have a big desk and file cabinets, and sit in the chair and put my feet up. Instead, you can see what happened.”
What happened is that the Wear’s dog collection over-flowed from the two kennel wings, nicknamed “Terrier Town” and “Whippet Town,” and now dog crates and grooming tables occupy the space. Behind the office is a kitchen, where every morning, Mrs. Wear cooks the dogs’ food.
“I’m a health food nut, you know,” she says. “I get up early in the morning, and by seven I’m down opening the kennel. It’s me and one other girl— even my kennel manager isn’t up yet. I put the dogs out.”
The dogs sleep in stacked kennel cages. “I don’t believe in these no- care kennels, where the dogs let themselves in and out. We pick the dogs up and look them over at least twice a day.
“Then I get to work in the kennel kitchen. My dogs eat natural foods and meat. Fresh meat is very important. All these prepared dog foods have too many preservatives in them. I don’t want my dogs eating that.
“I use Mother Hubbard’s Kibble. It comes from Boston. It’s all natural. I get a delivery truck here with it every two weeks. I make a soup of carrots and onions and meat. Then raw meat goes on top.”
We tour the kennel cages, where the dogs have been put in for the night. Mrs. Wear figures the number of dogs on the place, including all breeds, (which means, in addition to Whippets and Fox Terriers, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and Norwich Terriers), to be about 50.
“At one time, in the ’60s and ’70s, I had upwards of 75 Whippets.” She laughs, and opens a gate leading back to the house so that a small herd of dogs, who have been following us, can get through. “I like a variety of breeds around. But if I had to have only one, it would be Whippets.”
I ask about several dogs I’ve just seen who do not appear to be typical Stoney Meadows show specimens. “Charity cases,” says Mrs. Wear. “In one case, I sold the girl the bitch. Then her life fell apart. She got divorced, lost her home. I took the dog back. I’m a lot more hesitant to take the needle to them now— now that I’m approaching my own death.”
We settle into the sitting room, with tea and a collection of Whippets around us.
“Mrs. Wear, how did you get started in Whippets?”
“I got into dogs through my sister and brother-in-law. Before that I thought dog shows were silly. I was into horses. I went to horse shows. I thought dog shows were for the birds. I had an English Cocker Spaniel, the same breed that my sister showed. She was trying to finish one of her own dogs, so she told me to take it to a show, as a favor to her, just to make a major. My daughter showed it— and the dog won the points!
“After that, I liked showing dogs, and we went around to the shows with English Cockers. Potter didn’t mind; he liked dogs. But he said, “If you’re going to get serious about this, at least get a dog that won’t bring the whole farm in on his feet!”
“I wanted to get a Greyhound, but i decided they were too big. I wanted something that wouldn’t knock over my children and friends. So I thought I would get a Whippet. I wanted to get my feet wet with a slightly older one, so I would be able to see what I was getting into, which you can’t do with a little puppy. I asked around, who had Whippets for sale? And I was told there were two big Whippet kennels in the East: Mrs. Anderson, Mardomere Kennels, on Long Island, and the Shearer sisters of Virginia, who had Meander Kennels. Well, I was surprised to hear that, since I already knew Judith and Julia Shearer. They used to judge the pony classes that my kids rode in.
“I talked to the Shearers on the phone; Mrs. Anderson would not part with any of her dogs. She had a ‘closed door’ policy. The Shearers agreed to sell me Meander Topaz, sight unseen. She was 11 months old.
“Would you believe at that point they used to ship dogs by train? She arrived on New Year’s Eve, 1946-47. Of course I loved her immediately. I started showing her, but it was tough. I had six tries, and didn’t win anything. Julia Shearer said, ‘Hmph! What makes you think you can show a Whippet?’ She blamed me, not the dog.
“So I took her to obedience. That was a success, we got her C.D., and she would have had her C.D.X., but unfortunately, she went racing down the drive one day, around a blind corner, at the same moment the gardener was driving in. She broke her neck. It was very sad. I still miss her.
“But I had two litters from her, and that’s how I got my first champion. I didn’t know who to mate her to, till I found out a woman who lived nearby, Mrs. Hoops, had a Whippet— Saddle Rock Deed ‘e Does. I mated Topaz to him, and the funny thing is, it turned out to be good linebreeding! But I had no idea when I did it. In that litter I got one bitch and seven dogs, including my first Champion, Stoney Meadows Masquerade.”
“Stoney Meadows was the name of the farm we lived on, in Pennlyn, Pennsylvania, just outside of Philadelphia. I had five kids—”
I gasped. “Mrs. Wear, how did you manage to raise five children, and have the success you’ve had for all these years?”
She laughed. “Those were the good old days! I had help. I had a nanny, of course. I wouldn’t want to try to do it nowadays; you have a hard job to get kennel help, anymore.”
“How did your family react to your getting involved in dogs?’
“My husband and children loved the dogs. They were all a great help. It was lot easier to get the young Whippets trained, my kids were always putting leashes on them and dragging them around. Potter and my daugher Nancy got the first Fox Terrier. Nancy showed in Junior Handling. All my children are married now, and they all have dogs as pets. Only Nancy has maintained an interest in show dogs. She still has Fox Terriers.
“I always liked to ride, and up until five years ago, I had a horse here. I took the Whippets with me; that’s how they got their exercise. Potter liked to walk in the field with his dogs; I liked to ride. Sometimes we’d meet. The two packs of dogs would mingle with each other. Potter would say, ‘I’m going to check on the cattle,’ I’d say, ‘Okay, I’m going to ride towards the house.'”We’d separate, and the Whippets would come with me, and the Terriers would go with Potter. People used to say. ‘How do you manage to get the right dogs?’ We never managed the dogs, they managed themselves. They knew which breed they were!”
“When did you have that first Whippet litter?’
“January 19, 1948.”
“And that was the litter from which you got Masquerade?”
“Yes! I don’t know how I had enough sense to pick him out of the litter! He just got to me, so I kept him. I sold the rest for fifty dollars or so, or gave them to friends. I called him Toni. He was fawn, with a black mask. He won Best Of Breed at the Garden, AND, went 2nd in the Group, THREE CONSECUTIVE YEARS! He also won a Best In Show. He was a very good dog. He won so much, so fast, I thought, ‘Hey, this is easy.’ ”
“In other words, you got a Best In Show Whippet from your very first lifter?”
“Yes! You can call it beginners luck, or whatever. At the time, Julia Shearer said to me, ‘Hmpf! It’ll be many years and many dollars before you get another! And that turned out to be true.”
“Masquerade was typey, and also sound. At that time you had two types in Whippets: Mardomere was fancy and pretty; the Meander dogs were houndy. Even though Mrs. Anderson did not sell any dogs, I did get a Mardomere dog, through Percy Roberts, Mrs. Anderson’s handler. That was Fashion of Mardomere.
“I bred her to Masquerade. I kept a bitch out of that litter called (Ch.) Stoney Meadows Make Believe. I thought that she would never come in heat. It was two weeks after her fourth birthday before she came in season. Make Believe produced Stoney Meadows Epic, who became a famous racing dog for Barbara Eyles, and won the sweepstakes at the specialty. His litter brother was Ch. Stoney Meadows Marathon. I kept him.
“Then the next good bitch, the one that really started my present line, was Ch. Snow Flurry of Meander. I really wanted her, but the Shearers sold her to Harry Bridge.
“At the time I had two good bitches bred from my Mardomere bitch, Ch. Stoney Meadows Platinum, and Ch. Stoney Meadows Quicksilver. Harry Bridge called me; he wanted Platinum. I said, “Well, Harry, I really want Snow Flurry.” So we traded.
“She was the mother of (Ch. Stoney Meadows) Snow Queen, who was the mother of Bold Queen and (Ch. Stoney Meadows) Beauty Queen.”
“Mrs. Wear, I’ve heard some people say Beauty Queen was the most beautiful Whippet bitch they ever saw. Why did you sell her?”
“I don’t know! In a weak moment, I sold her to Cora Miller. Of course she did a lot of good for Cora, and for the breed. I kept Bold Queen, who produced (Ch. Stoney Meadows) Elegant Queen, (Ch. Stoney Meadows) Royal Flight,and (Ch. Stoney Meadows) Royal Fortune. Royal Fortune ws a wonderful dog. Bob Hastings showed him.”
“In the early ’60s, there was one year when I had five lifters. That was when I was not active in showing. I used to have upwards of 75 Whippets here,”In those days, we jumped up and down with excitement if we had 50 dogs entered in the Specialty! Now, there are 300 dogs entered in the National Specialty. I think having one big National Specialty is a good idea. Nobody dreamed it would be as successful as it was. But it gives a chance for all Whippet breeders from all over the country to get together.”
“What would you say has been the highlight of your showing career, so far?”
“Probably in the late ’50s, when I was showing Snow Queen. I was doing a lot more winning then, because the entry was small, Nowadays, there’s a lot more dogs, and a lot more variety in type for the judges to sort through. Back then I had the lovely black and white dog, (Ch. Stoney Meadows) Magnific, he had a lovely shoulder and neck. (Ch. Stoney Meadows) Winston, by (Ch. Stoney Meadows) Red Fox, he was something. He was small, but beautiful. Beauty Queen, Snow Queen, Royal Flight, Royal Fortune, all of them were fun to have in the ring.”
“I used to judge my own dogs from horseback. I could see how they moved, how they handled themselves. Sometimes, one would have a gorgeous outline, but he’d move and I’d say, ‘I wouldn’t want to ride that one downhill!’ because there might be a roughness to the shoulder action.”
“Of course, what I like in a show dog has changed, over the years. I like to think I’ve grown in the breed. The Shearers liked big dogs– with them, it was ‘the bigger, the better.’ They were very giraffe-y dogs. But not so good behind. The Mardomere dogs were fine and elegant. They did have hind ends. I don’t think my dogs were as easy to dismiss, for one fault or the other. Laguna Leone made the difference in my kennel. She put on the hind ends, long and flowing.
“I was always flattered when someone said, ‘That looks like a Stoney Meadows dog.’ They’re not so easy to distinguish now, when there are so many more dogs around. I started with the Shearers, then I trained myself to like the better hind ends. I liked putting my own stamp on my kennel.”
“Was your husband always” supportive of your Whippet activities?”
“He loved the Whippets. Potter loved all dogs. When we first married, we went to the SPCA to get our first dog. My daughter was ten years old when we got our first purebred English Cocker.”
“Potter” was the kind of man who liked the dogs to sit in his lap and walk with him. But he was not a real ‘dog’ person in the sense that I am. He left all the kennel management, the feeding and the paperwork, all of that, to me.”
“Potter was also extremely adaptable, which I was not. I think he would have been happy living in the city. But he realized that I would never be happy there. So we lived in the country.”
“How do you feel, when you see someone else’s dog in the show ring, and realize that it comes from your line?”
“I’m thrilled! Particularly if I like the dog. If I don’t like it, I say, ‘Must be another breeder’s fault.” She laughs.
“I love going to shows. I always handled our own dogs, as much as I could. It was only when I started judging, that we had to get a handler. Back when I started, there weren’t as many shows. It was more fun then. As spring came, we’d start to get excited. For instance, we’d say, ‘The Bucks County show is coming up!’ You spent a lot of time getting ready, looking forward to it. In the winter, there was only one show— the Garden. So it meant a lot. Nowadays, there’s a show every weekend, sometimes three or four shows a week. So one show is not as important.”
“Let’s talk about your career as a judge. When did you start judging, and do you enjoy it as much as showing?”
She smiles. “You get this idea that you know better than anyone else. Of course, you don’t. But that’s why you decide to do it. I got my license in 1952. I did my first Whippet assignment at the Garden in the mid-50s. That was quite a thrill. I thought, ‘Here I am, judging in the Garden! This is the tops!’ Then I moved on to get Greyhounds. Then Fox Terriers. Now I’ve got all Terriers and all Hounds, half the Sporting Group, and some breeds in Toy and Working.
“I love to judge. I do it for my own pleasure— why else would anyone do it? And for my education. When you judge, you always learn. You always see new things. You get to travel. Next weekend, I’ll be in Atlanta. The weekend after that, Troy and Albany, I just jump in the Queen Mary— that’s my big white van— and take off.”
“Best of all is the specialties. I wouldn’t care if I never judged anything else. It’s a big responsibility. It’s not to be taken lightly. But to see all those beautiful animals, all the best animals in the breed— I do enjoy it.”
“I’ve heard that you give all your judging fees to charity.”
“That’s right. The University of Pennsylvania Veterinary College, the Dog Writers’ Educational Trust, Friends of Small Animals, and the American Dog Owners Association.”
“What are you proudest of, from your years of showing, breeding, and judging?”
“My most exciting moment in judging, was judging the first National Specialty last year. I’m proud of the Certificate of Achievement from the American Whippet Club. I’m proud of my dogs. But I’ll tell you the nicest thing about it— the friends I’ve made. I think Whippet people are some of the greatest people in dogs. I don’t know people in every breed, but from what I’ve seen, in Whippets we have less cattiness and infighting. People are more willing to talk things over and help each other. I love that. And so many show their own dogs, which I think is good. A lot of families come out. I’ve been very fortunate, in the wonderful friends I’ve made.”
“I keep thinking back to the Shearers, who were the only people I knew when I started. They were characters. They were very gruff. They didn’t mince words. Julia used to say, ‘All I know is, the faults reproduce quicker than the virtues!’ That was her theory on breeding— and now it’s mine, too.”
“They couldn’t stand blue Whippets. If they saw a blue puppy come out, right down in the bucket it went. They were tough. All monorchids went right down. They would never raise more than four puppies in a litter. But when a dog became their housepet, they got all mushy about it.”
“Julia Shearer used to say that blue was a color for mice, not for Whippets. One time I was standing with her at the ring at the Garden. A man went in, showing a blue Whippet. I was just waiting to hear what she would say, because I knew she was furious about it. Julia said, ‘Hmph! If you put a mousetrap down, that dog would run right in.’ ”
“Is there any advice you give to new Whippet breeders?”
“I would never presume to give anyone any advice about breeding Whippets. Every litter is an experiment. You never know. You know what you HOPE to get. I’ve heard Poodle breeders say,’I’m going to breed this to that, and I’ll get good heads and necks.’ I think, how great, to know what you’ll get! A lot of people think that all you need is a pedigree with a lot of fancy names. But that’s no guarantee of success— you must know the individuals. You must know what they look like. And before I breed to an outside dog, I want to know what he’s produced.”
“What has been your favorite— showing, judging, or breeding?”
“Each time I’m showing, I like that best. When I’m judging, I like that. When I’m breeding, that’s the most fun. I like all of it. There’s no part I don’t like.”
“Is there any dog over the years that was your favorite?”
“There are so many. Masquerade slept on my bed till his last days. There was a dog named Leander, Ch. Stoney Meadows Royal Flight, my house dog . I miss them. Ch. Stoney Meadows Moon Moth, I called her Peggy, I miss her. Olga was a great favorite, Ch. Stoney Meadows Elegant Queen. I don’t have a Whippet on my bed now— a Whippet in bed has eight legs. They sleep in their own beds.”
We took a tour through Mrs. Wears house, a lovely home displaying many pictures and statues of Whippets and other breeds. In the sunroom, Stoney Meadows Jessica let us play with her five week-old puppies. Mrs. Wear was enthusiastic about the litter. “For a long time I wanted to breed to Davin (Ch. Morshors Majestic Dell). When Jessica came along, I kept her. I love her. I don’t show her. I just thought, right from the beginning— this is the bitch to breed to Davin.”
Jessica went outside, which gave us a chance to look over the lovely water view, as the sun set on another autumn Eastern Shore evening.
Adding a short article on Champion Stoney Meadows Royal Fortune
Champion Stoney Meadows Royal Fortune A Profile by Joan Frailey – Terrace Hill
From the moment “Gridley” arrived from the Stoney Meadows Kennels, the mutual feelings of love and respect were born. We purchased him without ever seeing a picture. We had no idea what he looked like because our friend and handler, Bob Hastings, made all the arrangements for us. He was handling our Boxers at the time and we had just lost our dear ten year old and was in the market for a new breed. When we arrived at the Hastings kennel to pick Gridley up the day he arrived, I asked, “He’s beautiful, but is he any good?” I really didn’t know the breed, and Bob replied, “You better believe — he’s sensational.” To say a dog with a silly name of… Gridley, changed our life is an understatement. If he’s lucky, every breeder has in his lifetime, that one “great dog” that offers all one can desire. Gridley had it all. He was a wonderful companion, a house- dog, excellent breed type coupled with a “show dog” personality. Boy, did he ham it up. He loved applause, travelling in the motor home, and everyone knew when he was out in the exercise pen at the shows. He talked to everybody.
Upon his arrival here in the West, he completed his championship in less than 30 days, undefeated, by topping the breed over the Specials at four consecutive shows with Group placements.
To quote Dick Beauchamp’s, KENNEL REVIEW article on Gridley back in 1968, “He’s a dog whose quality is respected not only by his myriads of loyal fans, but by his competitors as well. Proof of the later is the fact that in both 1966 (this just a few months after his career began!) and 1967 some 250 licensed handlers, residing in the West, singled out this outstanding Whippet as one of the FIVE BEST HOUNDS in the West for the annual KENNEL REVIEW Awards.”
Gridley’s show record consisted of 5 all breed Best in Shows, over 60 Group placements of which 21 were Group Firsts. Further adding to his accomplishments were his BOB win at the largest American Whippet Western Specialty ever held at Santa Barbara, 1967 (of course they are larger now), where he also won the Stud Dog class and sire of the Winners Bitch and Reserve Winners Bitch.
It was a genuine delight to see Gridley’s most competent handler, Bob, remove his lead, step back and away and present him to the judges “as is.” As the record indicated, it was truly a team. They travelled successfully coast to coast, no competition unchallenged. The year 1966 ended with a Group 1 at Lancaster, California, 1967 ended with a Group 1 at Worcester and 1968 began with back to back Group wins in Florida, and he retired on his 100th Best of Breed in early 1968 to make way for his illustrious young daughter, Ch. Hollypark’s Honey Bee owned by Dr. and Mrs. Patrick Baymiller. She was handled by Bob to numerous Best in Shows, specialty wins and Number 1 Whippet. And, to see her at the 1979 AWC Specialty at Santa Barbara capture the breed from the Veterans class handled by Dorothea Hastings was great joy coming through the tears.
Many of his progeny have made their marks in the breed, as he was Number 5 Sire of AKC champions and also tied for Number 6 sire of sons which sired ARM winners. He was a stud who serviced his mates in just the proper way. Unfortunately, at his peak as a producer, he suffered a severe ailment and we retired him from being used. We realized much later that was our mistake. When he was 11 years old we used him on a few selected bitches and offsprings from those breedings are being seen in the ring today on the East Coast, West Coast and in Canada.
Our comfort at that heart breaking time was in knowing that he left many children, (over 35 champions from the limited breedings), grandchildren that inherit his true Whippet temperament, his beauty and his love of life. He way layed to rest here at home where he loved and was loved everyday of his life. Gridley, as my first BIS winner and Number 1 dog in my life will never be replaced, but he did provide us with two of his delightful sons that are our companions, Ch. Pathens Terrace Hill Snowman and Ch. Terrace Hill’s Royal Image. They both are carrying on in the Gridley tradition along with our current exciting young bitch Ch. Terrace Hill’s Black Lace.