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Remembering Alexander “Sandy” C. Schwartz

By Lee Canalizo

To read the complete article click here 210 – September, 2012

From the archives of The Canine Chronicle, September, 2012

Sometimes I have a“plan for my next article and sometimes someone’s name just pops into my head and I say, “Where did he/she/that come from?” I seldom question the who, what or where’s. I just enjoy reminiscing and putting pen to the paper. YES, I still take pen to paper, not fingers to a keyboard tethered to the grey box(es) that adorn my office desk! I don’t even think about me uploading, downloading, emptying a cache or, heaven forbid, Tweeting! All that still sounds a bit “murky” to me. I do enlist some help from a much younger family member – my six year-old great-granddaughter is about the right age for all this high-tech stuff – to get the final thoughts into something that can be transmitted over the fiber-optic cable to whoever it is that brings such a nice finished product to my mailbox each month.

This month belongs to Sandy Schwartz aka Mr. Alexander C. Schwartz. Sandy and his wife, Glorvina, were contemporaries of mine in the dog world for many years. While we certainly didn’t run in the same circles, we often ran around in the same circles… that circle being the show ring! Sandy’s family had a background in the horse breeding community with some mighty fine racing lines credited to his father’s farm.

His father bred the great Kentucky Derby winner Bold Venture, who in turn would sire another all-time great, the Triple Crown Winner Assault. These were (and remain) momentous  names in the history of horse racing.

Kentucky Derby winner Bold Venture

Many successful horse people would make the transition to the canine world. Usually if they were good in one arena, they would excel in the other. This was the case for Sandy. His arrival on the scene was noted right from the get-go! He was a large figure in the New York and International financial world as an investment banker (VP) for Prudential Bache of New York, NY. Did I mention that he was also tall, slender and rather handsome?

Sandy and Glorvina’s Sandina Kennels was home to many, many greats in both Afghan Hounds and Norwich Terriers, the later representing their ownership of a Westminster Best In Show winner. Sandy’s primary residence during his most active showing years was Tuxedo Park, NY.  A beautiful, small bedroom community on the Rockland-Westchester County border which abutted the New York/New Jersey state line. We saw a lot of each other, mostly at local shows, often spending lots of time chatting about anything doggy. We showed against each other for decades and judged alongside each other just as long.

To say Sandy was a keen competitor would be an understatement. As sharp as a competitor he was could only be matched by his hard work and his masterful talent for figuring out the “industry” rapidly and with precision. He quickly realized there was a great fountain of knowledge being underused in the many great elder judges of the time, and he made inroads with them that seemed beneficial to all involved. I thought some of his resourcefulness was constructive to the community; others would disagree with that statement. When he found a way to reactivate the long disbanded Tuxedo Park Kennel Club, our area was treated to one of the most beautiful shows in the country. It was held on landmark grounds with five-star judges presiding. It would kick off one of the country’s most important weekends of shows. A win, an assignment, a membership at Tuxedo Park or Westchester had true prestige to it. With him at the helm, and Glorvina (as his most endearing quality) at his side, that weekend would flourish and thrive and, to this day, the clubs he was involved with still have an impressive roster of members and they still put on some fine events. I believe he also had membership(s) in The Westminster Kennel Club and the Palm Beach Kennel Club.

Interestingly, and most noticeably, was the fact that one scarcely ever saw Sandy in the ring as an exhibitor. I dare say the photo I included here is one of the only times I ever bore witness to him actually exhibiting. But being married to one of the greatest talents ever to grace a show ring, (and doing so as a Breeder/Owner/ Handler) he was smart enough to let Glorvina do all the showing.

“This is one of the only times I ever bore witness to him actually exhibiting.”

As smart as he was, there was an incident that would dispel that trait. It was truly of the only questionable things in the dog show world credited to Sandy. He allowed his competitiveness to cloud his impeccable judgment one day and the results would prove disastrous. The quick and skinny is: A handler’s dog was reported ill and planned to be absent. The major was going to break. Sandy was involved in getting the dog in the ring somehow, then his entry goes BOW for the Major… OUCH! All hell breaks loose within the fancy. There were hearings, interviews, blah, blah, blah. The powers that be slapped a few wrists and everyone moved on… ALMOST. The PHA and some key exhibitors decided to have a “show” of solidarity and thus begat the PHA Super Match. This little effort would grow to host a panel of over 100 judges with thousands of entries. Oh, and I don’t think it was lost on many that the event was held on the same day as the Tuxedo Park Kennel Club!

Personally, I found the entire thing uncomfortable. I sympathized with those who felt they had to act on principle and their message was delivered. The lines that were drawn in the sand toward those who supported either event vanished over time. I was so glad when this all passed over as I’m more the “Kiss and Make-up” type than anything else.

What Sandy should be remembered most for is his natural talent as a judge. As noted, he didn’t have the in-ring experience, but he was a student of the sport and recognized a great one at first glance. He was as serious a judge as any person I knew. And he judged for all the right reasons! He respected the breeders, the handlers and could prioritize and sort a class without missing a trick. Indeed, one of the most useful comments he would impart was, “If you find a dog you feel is the right dog to reward, you better know the best way to make it look like it is!” So, if you think for one second the glorious dog with an iffy front, but dripping in type with beautiful correct sidegait goes “Around and around…maybe more times than normal…it’s winning because I’m not going to remind any onlookers that the front isn’t his best feature.” Doing this is harder than you think! There was many a breeder who valued his opinion. He did more than the usual number of National Specialties. He was approved for five or more groups and was always very busy. His last years were fraught with uncertainty and an ongoing illness kept him very limited in almost everything. Glorvina and his family were there for him and she in turn would keep his friends abreast of his condition. He never did recover and left us in the winter of 2003. I have to say as good a judge Sandy was, many feel that Glorvina would have eclipsed him had she stayed the course and continued to expand her judging. She resigned from judging but remains an active club member in both the Tuxedo Park and Palm Beach clubs.  I miss seeing them both. Our little circle has slowed down and none of us are running as fast as we did back then. Sometimes it just “&*#@!” me off to “Look Back” but I wouldn’t change a thing!

From the archives of The Canine Chronicle, September, 2012

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