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Looking Back With Lee On Teddy Young

From the archives of The Canine Chronicle, February 2012

By Lee Canalizo

Q: What do these well-known dog personalities all have in common? Elliot More, Elliott Weiss, Cliff Steele, Joe Vergnetti, Linda Wallesa, John Oulton and Richard Guevara.

A: If you look back far enough, each of them worked with or for Teddy Young, Jr.

When one person can influence an entire generation in our sport, it can’t (and shouldn’t) go unnoticed. Ted Young came onto the scene in the fifties and “did it all” until he left us in the nineties. Doing it all also meant he “had it all” for many years in every facet of the sport. He had the best of friends, (Anne Clark, The Forysths, Wendell Sammett, Frank Sabella, Bill Trainer and others too numerous to mention!) He had the best of clients –?Ellen MacNeille Charles, Peggy Westphal, Mrs. Tabler, etc., etc. He also had the Best in Shows to prove it.

He bred some great Poodles and Cockers under the “Tedwin” prefix including Ch. Tedwin Top Billing, a big winner in the ‘60s under the ownership of E.E. Furgurson, and handled by Frank Sabella. Teddy would be one of, if not the youngest person to handle a Westminster Best in Show winner. He accomplished this in 1954 with Ch. Carmor’s Rise and Shine. This, of course, catapulted him to the highest levels of our sport.

Teddy based his operation in Connecticut where his Tedwin kennels shared the property with the stables and paddocks of his other love: horses. While I couldn’t begin to rattle off names of his famous charges in that arena, I can tell you his impact in everything equine was on par with his impact on the sport of purebred dogs. This included some close relationships with others who loved both Horse and Hound. I’m told John Gammon and Robert Scroll boarded their Morgan horses at Tedwin. This might have been their introduction to each other and together John and Robert have spent most of their lives devoted to the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Teddy shared his career and most of his personal life with his longtime partner, Johnny Paluga. I think Johnny ran the horse business and Teddy primarily the dog business, but I cannot underscore the word “business” here enough. Teddy was lighthearted and fun at the shows, but when it was all said and done he made sure the bills got sent out.
This may shock you newcomers, but there was a time when the top professionals in the game showed your dog, recorded the win in a ledger, collected the ribbons and the prizes, and marked a “tear sheet” (the actual page from the show catalog with all the placements); and you would have it in the mail within a week. You also wouldn’t think twice about not paying your monthly bill. Their business was efficient and organized. Maybe this was also why Teddy had a successful term (or two, or three) as President of the PHA. I rather miss those days in many respects. Clients all waited for a call from their handler on a Tuesday after the weekend. No handler would think of picking up a phone call from a client on Monday…that was the dog handlers day of rest. There weren’t online results, or videos from ringside streamed to the owner’s smartphone. The entire handling community always took most of the month of August off and most covered shows in their area venturing afar only for some of the major events. But I digress!

I can’t say every dog Teddy brought into the ring was a “star”…but I can say many of his top winners of many breeds made a legendary mark in their respective breeds. Teddy had a great talent. His style of showing was as dramatic and dynamic as his charm and personality. He was a vibrant fixture in the rings at all the shows in the New England region. Much like the best of his generation of great handlers, he showed so many dogs amongst so many breeds. All were presented impeccably. And to his credit, when the occasion arose, (and it did often considering Teddy’s win ratio), those names mentioned at the start of this article were the icing on the cake. His assistants were on par with their master…what better reward could one ask for. Teddy shared his art with those who wanted to learn. He was a perfectionist and this carried over in his teaching. He was honored when one of his protégé’s could trump the Boss!

He showed some wonderful Dachshunds in a hotbed of powerful breeders (Lem Straus, Peggy Westphal, Dee Hutchinson, etc). He even showed one of my all-time favorite Afghan Hounds with flawlessness, Ch. Gold Coast Calcutta.

Those sensational appearances came with a price tag, as well all know, and if one failed to respect his expertise by upholding their end of the obligation, he knew what needed to be done. You didn’t pay your bill…you didn’t get your dog back! In those days…if you owed money to another handler, no other handler would even consider taking you on as a client. It was called “professional courtesy” and I’m not sure I see all that much of it anymore. But I digress!

Teddy had that unique, intrinsic “eye for a dog’ but he kept it all in focus with constant intimate interaction with some of the preeminent breeders the area had; and most all were willing to share with him. Teddy was part of the local dog establishment and he was also, many times, a dinner companion or house guest to many of us during or after the shows. These shared times were spent talking about dogs. And a few other little ditty’s that happened to wander into the conversation are salted away in my memories!

The beautiful buff Cocker Ch. Sycamores Taccoa Owned By P. Westphal and Handled By Ted Young

I know he was very fond of Babbie Tongren, and she of him. I recall one First Governors Footguard Show, always held back then on the Saturday after Westminster, with Babs doing Best In Show. All the chatter of the day was for a certain Bulldog predicted to go Best. When I saw Teddy just before Best In Show was to go in, he asked me if I noticed how wonderful Babbie looked. Of course, I saw the amazing transformation in her. She dropped like thirty pounds, she was in a black gown that hugged her newfound svelteness, her hair still jet-black, and she was bedazzled with a huge gold necklace. We both shared a moment of happiness for our close friend. Well, Teddy looks at me and says without hesitation, “Sh*t they all think the Bulldog’s winning this. Well, Lee, looking like that, no way will Babs put a Bulldog over a beautiful Buff Cocker!” And his charge, Ch. Sycamores Taccoa, was indeed crowned Best In Show with a beaming Teddy in the photo with a beautiful Loretta Young look-a-like holding the rosette.

A moment like that summed up how Teddy looked at the world, not just our little world, but the entire world. He lived and loved life with flair and “did it all” with charm, wit, style, and, most of all, compassion. His last few months were difficult to witness as he was failing rapidly and it was his final determination to live to judge at the Garden, and he did just that. I last saw him that day along with his legion of friends and loved ones. Soon after he was gone but, as the cliché goes, not forgotten!

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