Remembering Sam Ewing
By Lee Canalizo
There are those we have known for their successes in the show ring, for their contributions as a breeder, or as a great evaluator of stock. (Be it formally in the ring or informally outside of it) We had amongst us a person who did all three without question. I speak of Samuel Evans Ewing, 3rd. He was “Sam” to anyone within the Northeast dog world.
Sam was born in Bryn Mawr, PA. He graduated Princeton and the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Law. His law offices were in West Chester, PA for forty-three years.
I think he had a “family pedigree” that would parallel that of his dogs in a sense. Sam wasn’t boastful, but one got the feeling there was a history in HIS background as well.
Sam began breeding his beloved Irish Wolfhounds in the 1950s and it was shortly thereafter that the Canalizo family first met Sam and his wonderful family of Irish Wolfhounds at dog shows in the Northeast. At that time Sam was in association with another bright and colorful enthusiast, J. Council Parker.
We were to be in his company in the hound group for more years than I care to recall! We socialized with Sam both as co-exhibitors and, years later, with him as exhibitor and me the judge. I have such funny stories (that I cannot repeat in this article) that come to mind, thanks to Sam’s antics in the ring while I was adjudicating; or at least trying to in spite of Sam. If one ever wondered how so many people in the area got to know or at least be aware of him at the shows, it was because, more times than not, it was hard not to miss the van pulling up to the tent where 4, 5, 6 or more Wolfhounds would pile out…most unleashed and most in need of a quick grooming and a handler. Remarkably any one of us could take a lead and be a holder of these “Gentle Giants” who on occasion HAD to be close to their “Daddy” and one prayed that they weren’t the loser in the class and given to you to hold. Otherwise you were likely to appear in the ring with short notice and no recourse! When an IW WANTS to do something or go somewhere… you go!
To say Sam was a keen competitor would be an understatement. He was a very focused “gentleman” about his Eagle Farms dogs. I clearly remember when he was in a close race for breed points that he somehow managed to exhibit at 9:00 am at the Walkill show (defeating a close competitor in the breed) and then driving over 200 miles to a show where he would take Best of Breed at 2:30 pm the same day (defeating another close competitor). I wonder how many dogs are in the AKC records for having won two Best of Breeds on the same day.
Sam bred Irish Wolfhounds for over fifty years at his Eagle Farms Kennel in Chester Springs, PA. He was extremely successful in his breeding program having finished hundreds of champions under the Eagle prefix. He had wonderful co-owners to help him along the way!
Sam owned or co-owned the Irish Wolfhound National Specialty winner five times. He would enter into a wonderful relationship with another Sam –?that being Sam Houston Mc Donald. They co-bred and showed for a number of years and the Eagle Farms IWs went on to add many great winners and is still active to this day under the guidance of Sam McDonald.
At the famed Westminster KC Show in 1975, Sam handled the very first Irish Wolfhound to ever win the Hound Group at this prestigious event! This dog was Ch. Breac O’Shawn McDonough of Eagle.
Sam presided over the Irish Wolfhound Club of America and was an officer of the KC of Philadelphia and Bryn Mawr KC for years.
Sam Ewing died of pneumonia on February1, 2004, surrounded by his partner Sam Houston McDonald and his beloved hounds.
AKC president Dennis Sprung called Sam one of the most respected breeders in America. He added that in his time Sam had made a huge contribution to the sport of Purebred Dogs. Many would add that he was a good friend and mentor. Indeed one of the most enlightening breed seminars I ever attended was one of Sam’s. He did it without any dogs, props or diagrams. He spoke to us about his breed with passion and love and there wasn’t a person in that room that didn’t walk away with an understanding of the breed in a way that transcends what one could read or study. Sam never did join the ranks approved judges. That is truly a shame. His sweepstakes assignments in his breed and many others were always spot on. I watched him judge an entry of 80 Afghan Hound puppies with the same instinct of any longtime breeder and personally thought he did a better job of sorting them than most within the breed.
Sam may be gone but his impact on the sport (and IWs in particular) will live on for a very long time.
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