In May the sport of dogs lost four longtime, dedicated fanciers.
On May 25, 2013, Great Dane maven Jane Chopson passed away. A second-generation Dane breeder and exhibitor, Jane showed her first dog when she was just 4 years old. As an adult she devoted herself to the breed not just as a breeder, but as a professional handler and a dedicated member of the parent club. There she served in many capacities, including as president, on the board of directors and numerous committees, and as a trustee of the GDCA Charitable Trust. Jane was selected by the membership of the Great Dane Club of America to judge at the 2014 National Specialty under new AKC guidelines adopted in 2012 allowing individuals who are not approved to judge otherwise to judge national specialties.
In addition to tremendous success with her own and her clients’ Danes, Jane also owned and bred champion Vizslas, Doberman Pinschers, Cocker Spaniels and, most recently, Field Spaniels. Outside the dog world she was a retired director of social and health services for Marin County, Calif.
Professional handler Frank Jewett of Florida lost his battle with cancer on May 29. Frank told Ocala Style Magazine in 2012 that his parents showed dogs, so it was natural that he also picked up the lead and pursued a career in dogs. Along with his wife, Maureen, Frank was an AKC Registered Handler and showed a number of breeds, but was perhaps best known for his success in the Cocker ring. Like her parents, Frank and Maureen’s daughter, Caitlyn, also enjoys showing dogs.
On May 29 word also arrived of the passing of Dr. Bob Berndt. Born in Ohio in 1929, Dr. Berndt devoted much of his life to the sport of dogs, dating back to 1958. Before pursuing a career as an AKC judge, Dr. Berndt is said to have shown dogs in every Group and to have finished more than two dozen champions. Over the years he bred Labrador Retrievers, Beagles, Maltese, Yorkshire Terriers, Lhasa Apsos and Pembroke Welsh Corgis, and at the end of his life was a devoted Chihuahua owner.
Dr. Berndt also served the sport as chairman of the AKC Board of Directors, liaison on the Judging Application Committee, and was a member and past president of the Ozarks Kennel Club. He began judging in 1970 and was one of just a handful of AKC arbiters approved for all breeds. Dr. Berndt wrote numerous articles and books, including “The Science and Techniques of Judging Dogs.” Professionally he was a university professor and administrator who taught in Ohio, Illinois and Missouri.
Tammy Larson succumbed to her battle with melanoma at home with her family, in Minnesota, on May 31, 2013, at the age of 48. Tammy handled dogs professionally alongside her husband, Greg, for nearly 30 years after the couple met showing dogs when they were young. They have shown numerous Toy and Non-Sporting breeds, but have been especially devoted to the Shih Tzu, both as handlers and as breeders of champions, Group and Best in Show winners under the Ista prefix. More recently Tammy and Greg became involved with Standard Poodles and bred several champions.
In addition to showing dogs, Tammy was a devoted mother to sons Mike and Alex. She served the American Shih Tzu Club as a board member and editor of the Shih Tzu Bulletin, and was also a member of the Twin Cities Area Shih Tzu Club, the Shih Tzu Club of Wisconsin’s Fox Valley and the Twin Cities Poodle Club.