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Rena Martin – Humble Beginnings…Part 2

Click here to read the complete article
164 – The Annual, 2018-19

by Amy Fernandez


Click here to read Part 1 of this piece in our November/December edition.

Aennchen Antonelli, Anne Pendelton, Michael Woff, Joanne Hesse, Richard Donovan, it was quite the cast of characters in this Maltese dramarama. The fallout eventually led to the formation of two national clubs–which AKC approved of at the time. And things just escalated from there. But getting back to our story. Less than a decade into it nothing revealed Rena’s single- minded determination more than her remarkable ability to forge unlikely alliances in pursuit of bigger goals. Storming this Maltese citadel could be called her test of fire be- cause that’s when she really hit her stride.

I’m distilling someone’s life story into a brief narrative, so don’t get the mistaken impression that any of this was easy. Rena had energy and that aforementioned ability to prioritize all this nonsense with respect to the big picture. Regardless of the chaos around, her every move was guided by her personal moral compass. Getting her hands on good stock was challenging. However, it wouldn’t have mattered unless she knew how to manage it. As her competitors feared, a successful bloodline was imminent.

That brings us to Ch. Martin’s Flopsy Puff “who was our first group winner;” taking his first group his first time out as a special in 1964 at the Manitowoc, Wisconsin show. “So, Flopsy was a Top 10 Maltese, and we beat Poona once at the Chagrin shows. Frank (Oberstar) was furious. Aennchen produced a boatload of famous dogs. But, by far, their biggest winner was Ch. Aennchen’s Poona Dancer. The second Maltese to win a Westminster group in 1966, she also won the 1967, and ‘68 AMA specialties, and ranked as top Toy and third overall for 1967. Owner/handled by Frank Oberstar, her career record of 38 BIS and 131 groups was untouched for years.

As noted, this was the breed’s breakout moment. Still, that entailed overcoming one final obstacle – grooming technology. In that respect, gray areas in the AKC standard were about the size of the Grand Canyon. Those twin topknots are now welded to the breed’s image, but for most of Maltese history nothing in that regard was mentioned in any version of the standard, published here or elsewhere. The standard in play dur- ing this particular era, approved in 1964, said, “The long head-hair may be tied up in a topknot or it may be left hanging.” That was the first reference since AKC recognition, and even then it was optional. It might be called an open invitation for creativity and initiative.

Click here to read the complete article
164 – The Annual, 2018-19

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  • June 2019