Richard M. Chashoudian, professional handler, breeder, mentor, judge, writer and sculptor, passed away on Sept. 19, 2011, at the age of 80.
Born in 1931, Ric got his first Airedale Terrier when he was just 12 years old. Registered Ric’s Lucky Boy, the Airedale and his young owner earned a CD title in obedience and Ric came to the attention of several of the prominent dog men of the day. His second Airedale, Roy-El Tiger Lily, became Ric’s first owner-handled champion. At age 15, he won his first Specialty Best in Show with her. His destiny seemed set then and there, and two years later, in 1948, Ric won his first all-breed Best In Show, also with an Airedale.
Over his 60-plus years in dogs, Ric Chashoudian won more than 500 all-breed Best In Shows, most with Terriers, but also with Brussels Griffons, Bichons Frisés and Irish Setters. His most prestigious win was earned in 1976 when he piloted the Lakeland Terrier, CH Jo-Ni’s Red Baron of Crofton, to the top spot at the 100th anniversary show of the Westminster Kennel Club.
Ric handled numerous Terriers that reached the pinnacle of Top Dog of All Breeds during their careers, the first when he was a mere 30 years old: the Wire Fox Terrier CH Miss Skylight, imported from Ireland, was Top Terrier in 1960 and 1961, competing with the cream of the crop dogs and handlers in tough West Coast competition, and became Top Dog of all breeds in 1961. That was just the beginning.
A few years later, Chashoudian began showing a dog – the first of several – that became not only a top winner but a very influential sire as well. The Kerry Blue Terrier CH Melbee’s Chances Are became Top Dog of All Breeds in 1968, and today ‘Tommy’ remains the top Kerry sire of all time, with 57 champion offspring.
In the 1980s Ric was joined with another dog that would become a legendary sire when the Smooth Fox Terrier from Australia, CH Ttarb The Brat, became part of his string. Brat was Top Terrier in 1981, winning many of the country’s most prestigious shows, and he is still the top Smooth Fox Terrier sire of all time. He has had a permanent and lasting influence on the breed through his more than 130 champion offspring. It is possible that every modern Smooth Fox Terrier carries lines back to Brat.
Although the Armenian’s volatile temperament occasionally put him in a quandary, and not everyone he encountered saw eye to eye with him, few true dog people would deny that Ric was a great dog man. He is arguably the only man in the history of the sport closely associated with so many dogs that became legendary sires. In addition to Tommy and the Brat, he recognized the potential of the great Airedale CH Bravo True Grit, Best In Show at Montgomery County in 1981 in the hands of Ric’s protégé and assistant Phillip Fitzpatrick, who was just 14 years old at the time. True Grit is behind many of the breed’s winners, but more importantly many of his top producing descendents heavily influenced the breed.
And in his own breed, the Wire Fox Terrier, Ric will perhaps always be remembered for the dog he imported and whose career as a sire Ric directed, the great CH Sylair Special Edition. ‘George,’ a top Wire Fox Terrier and Westminster Group winner handled by Clay Coady, has had a permanent influence on the breed. He not only sired 90 champions, but many of his offspring themselves became top sires and dams.
Ric will also be remembered as a teacher and mentor. He remained a fiercely dedicated Wire Fox Terrier breeder to the end of his life, and he mentored many in the breed who will carry on with his Santeric breeding program or dogs down from his breeding program. He also bred champion Airedales, Welsh Terriers, Kerries, Scotties, Sealys, Smooths, Griffons and Bouviers des Flandres.
Throughout his life, Ric had a special fondness for young people. Many who went on to become successful handlers and breeders in their own right apprenticed under Ric, including Wood Wornall, Richard Powell, Sandy Paulson and Klayton Harris. Countless Wire breeders credit Ric with teaching them to trim the breed. Ric also enjoyed judging Junior Showmanship and was always willing to spend time bringing young people along.
After retiring from professional handling, Ric began judging in 1983, a career he enjoyed for almost three decades. He also discovered a talent and love for sculpting dog figures which led him to create sculptures of nearly 100 breeds. Among his most notable works is the life-size bronze of President George W. Bush and Laura Bush’s Scottie ‘Barney,’ which is on display at the Presidential Pet Museum in Washington, D.C. He was also a longtime columnist for the all-breed magazine Canine Chronicle and contributed to other publications, including Terrier Type and Dogs in Review magazines.
In 2002 Ric Chashoudian was inducted into the Hall of Fame, an honor most fitting for a man who dedicated nearly his entire life to purebred dogs.
He was a colorful character, sometimes overly opinionated, often controversial, always dedicated to the sport he loved and in particular to the Wire Fox Terrier, about which he was so passionate. Above all, Ric left a lasting legacy, to the Terrier world especially, through the dogs he discovered, conditioned and handled and those whose producing careers he managed; through the people who apprenticed under him and learned to trim at his side; and in the artwork he left behind.
Ric is survived by his sister Joan, daughters Kim and Kerri, grandson Daniel, Daniel’s wife Melanie, grandson Gordy, Gordy’s wife Anne Marie, grandsons Tim and Joe, granddaughter Kristen, and great-grandson Matthew. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Evonne Chashoudian, and is survived by former wives Lesley Betts Boyes and Sandy Malcolm Dennis and wife Nicole Chashoudian.