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Fancy That: Remembering Sandra Goose Allen

On May 9, 2013, the dog world lost a devotee whose kindness will long be missed, and today I want to devote Fancy That to her. Sandra Goose Allen was a beautiful and gracious woman who I never heard say an unkind word and about whom I never heard anyone say an unkind word. I was among the many who counted her as one of my favorite judges.

Sandra Goose was always a dog lover, and had a Dachshund as a child. After marrying Ralph Allen, a successful New York florist, the couple decided to get a Skye Terrier. They ended up breeding and showing Skyes while running the flourishing florist business on 71st Street in Manhattan. According to a 2001 article in the St. Petersburg Times, they “did all the arrangements at a party of Broadway star Mary Martin, as well as for magazines such as Vogue and McCall’s.” Ladies’ Home Journal wrote about the shop and featured one of its creations on the magazine’s cover.

Sandra Goose Allen with six of her Skye Terriers.

The couple moved to St. Louis, where they continued their involvement in both the floral business and dogs. Their business gained national recognition when it was named one of the top 10 florists in the U.S. by Town and Country magazine. When Ralph became ill with cancer, they settled in Florida. Sandra had begun judging by this time, and after her husband passed away she remained there until her death last week.

“Mother Goose,” as she was called by many, bred both Skyes and Scotties under the Windflower banner before she decided to change her focus to judging. She took that task very seriously and devoted herself to learning the finer details of the breeds over which she officiated. Once her judging career became established, she judged all over the world and received the most prestigious assignments at home. She judged countless National Specialties, as well as two Groups at Westminster, Terriers in 2001 and the Non-Sporting Group in 2005. She judged almost every year at one of her favorite venues, the all-Terrier Montgomery County Kennel Club, and she judged Best in Show there in 1993.

In 2005 Sandra Goose Allen awarded the Terrier Group at Westminster to Kerry Blue Terrier Eng. Am. Ch. Torum’s Scarf Michael, handled by Bill McFadden.

As a judge, Sandra was loved as much for her gentle touch as for her knowledge. She made a concentrated effort to be as kind to the least experienced exhibitors in her ring as to those she saw on a regular basis. “I really try to help the novice,” she told the St. Petersburg Times in 2001. “They’re nervous. I mean, you only have two-and-a-half minutes to show a dog. So I spend some time making people feel comfortable. I used to be overweight, and I was very insecure in the ring. So I’m very conscious of how people feel. I want them to feel good in the ring, whether it’s their first time or their 100th.”

Sandra continued to make contributions to her two beloved breeds after she retired from breeding. She wrote “The Complete Skye Terrier,” “The Terrier Lover’s Cookbook” and “A Study of the Scottish Terrier,” published by the Scottish Terrier Club of America, which was awarded the coveted Maxwell Medallion by the Dog Writers Association of America. She created the educational seminar presented by the Skye Terrier Club of America, and was recognized by the STCA for her service to the club, and her love and devotion to the Skye Terrier. She was a talented artist who delighted many with the whimsical illustrations she created.

One of the many whimsical drawings Sandra created and shared with her friends, often depicting herself, “Mother Goose,” with her beloved dogs.

In 1994 Sandra was honored for her service to the St. Louis Chapter of the National ALS Association, for Lou Gehrig’s disease, where she had served as vice president and chairman of the fundraising committee. In 2009 she won the Dogs in Review Judge of the Year award, and in 2010 she was honored with the AKC Lifetime Achievement Award. She also received the Sterling Silver Service Medallion and the Anstamm Achievement Award, both presented by the Scottish Terrier Club of America. Sandra was involved with many charitable organizations over the years, including the St. Louis Lupus Foundation and organizations working with the homeless and animal rescue.

In 2010 Sandra was honored with the AKC Lifetime Achievement Award.

But it is her warmth and grace, coupled with her abiding love for all things dog and dog people, that will remain Sandra’s legacy to the world of dogs. She often said that she was blessed to have spent a lifetime involved with the things she loved most, and she never failed to mention the thrill she got every time she stepped into the ring to judge. No doubt it was her love for us, and for each and every one of our dogs, that made her so beloved to all who knew her.

Written by

Christi McDonald is a second-generation dog person, raised with a kennel full of Cairn Terriers. After more than a decade as a professional handler’s apprentice and handling professionally on her own, primarily Poodles and Cairns, she landed a fortuitous position in advertising sales with the monthly all-breed magazine ShowSight. This led to an 11-year run at Dogs in Review, where she wore several hats, including advertising sales rep, ad sales manager and, finally, editor for five years. Christi is proud to be part of the editorial team for the cutting-edge Best In Show Daily. She lives in Apex, N.C., with two homebred black Toy Poodles, the last of her Foxfire line, and a Norwich Terrier.
  • Elaine Summerhill May 13, 2013 at 4:13 PM

    She will be sorely missed. God speed “Mama Goose”.

  • Kerrie Kuper May 13, 2013 at 5:12 PM

    Very beautifully written for a beautiful lady. I miss her very much!

  • Nadine Robards May 13, 2013 at 5:14 PM

    You are right. She was kind. Kindness isn’t something we see often in our sport. She was the epitome of grace, and she was just beautiful. I loved to see her kiss all the table dogs. What a wonderful lady. I will truly miss showing to her, and seeing her at the shows.

  • Sandra Aspey May 13, 2013 at 5:31 PM

    Sandra Goose Allen was a lovely lady who will be greatly missed by all who knew her. When I was ready to apply for my provisional in Shar-Pei, she took the time to talk with me about the breed and in particular the classes she had just judged, and took additional time to write a note for me to include with my application to AKC. I felt privileged to include that note when I applied. She will be fondly remembered for her kindness and gentleness in the ring.

  • Dianne Tyree May 14, 2013 at 3:20 AM

    A lovely tribute to a lovely lady.

  • Kathy Gotschall May 14, 2013 at 9:30 AM

    A wonderful tribute to a great lady. She loved ALL dogs and her kindness to all in
    the ring was unsurpassable. Christi, this article and the pictures are much appreciated. Thank you for always doing a terrific job for your readers!

  • Armando Angelbello May 14, 2013 at 5:25 PM

    A beautifully written tribute to a grand lady. Thank you.

  • Christi May 14, 2013 at 9:50 PM

    Thanks to all of you.

  • jan dykema May 16, 2013 at 6:58 AM

    I always called her the Audrey Hepburn of the dog show word. Elegant, sophisticated and oh so polite to every exhibitor, it was a pleasure to be in her ring. My bred is mostly owner handled and every one of us loved to show under her.
    Goodbye beautiful lady

  • sharon spence May 16, 2013 at 7:39 PM

    This was one wonderful lady who treated everyone in the ring with a kind heart and not just the holder of the lead but the dog on the end of the lead too. Very soft spoken to dogs on the table. She always pick the best dog in the ring regardless of who was behind the lead. She will be greatly missed and it was a real pleasure to have shown my dogs to her over the years.

  • Carol Masters May 20, 2013 at 8:01 AM

    Dave and I have only been in showing for 8 years, but have been particularly blessed by meeting and knowing fine people. I meet Sandra Goose Allen early on and she was so gracious to me and my beginner’s jitters. I spoke to her every time I saw her whether I showed to her or not; one of my favorite judges and an Icon I the judging world. To my extreme delight, she finished Aiden’s Championship quest (GCH Ashro Talk To The Paw), and another Icon Dr. Harry Smith gave him his Grand Championship! It was my great pleasure to know her and show to her expertise; even when I didn’t win she made me feel glad I showed up. I will miss her tremendously….

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