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Looking Back With Lee – Remembering Derek Rayne

To read the complete article click here 84 – October, 2012

From the archives of The Canine Chronicle, October, 2012

By Lee Canalizo

“A judge new to any breed is unable to recognize that the current winners may be of a far different type than those of another era. . . . Frequently today we hear exhibitors and judges say a certain dog is the greatest living example of that breed. Unfortunately, this dog may be very showy and sound but is not, in reality, the true type of this breed as were the winners of 20 or 30 years ago.

Many breeds today have lost their true type. . . We must realize that true type is the quintessence of any breed. A healthy farm dog trotting down a country lane has all the attributes that are found in most standards of most breeds – all it lacks is type!”

Derek Rayne

I came across those comments in another article and was taken by the fact someone shared such a similar perception. Those brilliant words came from Derek Rayne. Derek was a huge figure (both physically and figuratively) in the dog sport. While I knew “of him” and very occasionally got to exhibit to him, I did not have the chance to glean any insight to him as he was decidedly a “West Coast” presence and it seemed he wasn’t a regular visitor to the “East Coast” rings. When he did come east, it was for some of the finest assignments to be offered. I’m talking the likes of Morris and Essex and Westminster.

So owing to this little blurb, I decided to “Look Back” to Mr. Rayne for this month’s article.

Derek’s family came from Surrey, England in the mid-thirties, first to New York and then they would settle in California, initially Santa Monica and then, permanently, in Carmel where they were to “set up shop”…and that’s exactly what they did! His father, Charles, was established in the fashion world of the day having owned the H. & M. Rayne Co., shoe manufacturers in London. The elder Mr. Rayne was a charter member of the Fashion Group in London, which had connections as couturiers to the Royal Family. He also belonged to the Royal Societies Club in London and was donor of the Rayne Medal for Industrial Design. Aside from his fame in the dog world, Derek’s shop in Carmel would become an “institution” in the area. The Derek Rayne, Ltd., business was a family enterprise which included his wife, Gerda, and their son, Clive. It was a fixture in Carmel for 53 years. The Raynes retired in 1995 but I believe it is still in operation to this day, possibly with new ownership. However, I see many offerings of his “vintage” fashion online all the time. I have to say some of his work had such classic style. I sent in a picture of one of my favorites. Now if I could only fit into one of them!

It was not lost on many that Derek was such a distinguished figure. He was tall, always perfectly “groomed” with his signature “Goatee” or “Van Dyke”. I have seen photos of him clean shaven but that wouldn’t be how most remember him. Although well over six feet in height, he was graceful and his large hands had a deft, smooth touch on any exhibit. I guess since he started his judging career in 1939, he had lots of time to practice honing his technique. His first licensed breeds were Corgis and Fox Terriers along with all Obedience classes. (It has to be noted that another legend of the day also had an Obedience background and maybe that was part of their close relationship as friends. I speak of Bea Godsol, his contemporary on many levels. Having just said that, I have to mention that she too was unavoidably deemed as another vertically challenged person…an odd coincidence maybe?)

At one time, Derek was listed as the “Youngest All Breed Judge in the World”, having been approved in 1950 for that lofty status. Derek maintained a small kennel (“Pemwelgi”) and personally exhibited well into the mid-sixties. His primary breeds were Fox Terriers (in those days they were still “one breed”). He had BIS winners in both Smooths and Wires. Ch. Andelys Personal Property was one of his top winners. This was circa 1940, and his Corgis were still considered a rare breed. (Derek would have the first recorded AKC Champion of the breed) His Ch. Rockrose of Wey would become one of the legends of the breed having had huge success both in the UK and the USA. Over the course of his active years, Derek would have interest and/or ownership in no fewer than 17 different breeds.

Example from the Rayne Fashion Empire

Derek was also a very active and influential (charter member, c. 1950) in the famed Del Monte Kennel Club. This, of course, was the most luxurious of events, held for many years on the fabled lawns on the 18th Green of The Lodge at Pebble Beach. This show was benched and extremely limited but it was a must for any exhibitor for the sheer beauty it afforded the fancy. Oddly, I enjoyed the Pebble Beach experience and it was everything one was told to expect…BUT…my footprints on the plush turf at 18 was as a “Golfer Wife”. It was also any golfer’s dream to play at Pebble Beach and this only added to its enchantment; knowing that my dog family could make the same claim.

I’m not sure if one might find it particularly interesting, but I can’t help but think about how Derek’s obvious success in both areas of the show dog world, as an exhibitor and as a judge, might be a contentious point in this day and age. All indicators seem to confirm that he started to judge in 1939 and became an all-rounder in 1950, yet he could still be seen exhibiting (and winning!) well into the 1960s! One must expect he managed to walk that thin line with the greatest of ease because to do so requires a delicate balance to avoid the degree of controversy an exhibiting judge faces, deservedly or not. Derek was well-known for his easy (and often funny) mannerisms. I would think his personality contributed to his success both as an exhibitor and judge. Having read some on Derek confirms what I sensed on our few shared times together. This was a man very comfortable in his skin. He wasn’t loud or boastful; he looked and conducted himself with precision and elegance and truly loved the sport and its constituency fiercely. I will share the only personal story of Derek that I can relate in an article. Most know I had a special closeness to R. Stephen Shaw, who also happened to consider (and deservedly so) himself a Corgi expert as did Mr. Rayne. WELL…at one judging appointment with the two of them on the same panel with me, somehow, someway, those two got into a “chat” about the breed and before one could say “Red Jacket” or “Rockrose” they were really going at it! Of course, I got the sense that Derek knew just what to do to goat Steve into such a scenario, and it worked much to the delight to Derek and to the shock of one unsuspecting me! Soon after everyone kissed and made up (ever so reluctantly on Mr. Shaw’s part)!

Derek left us in 1998 having given of himself almost to the end; and looking ever as dashing as I remembered him. This was much to the delight of those who always supported him and sought out his opinion.

Footnote: These articles are so well-received and now with The Canine Chronicle Online adding to the global exposure of the outstanding print magazine, the memories of these great figures are being revived. If you have a favorite dog person who you think should be featured, please send me some notes on them along with a few photos and I will gladly work them into a future issue.

From the archives of The Canine Chronicle, October, 2012

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