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.
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.
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.
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.
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.