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Up-Close And Personal With Walter Goodman

By Deborah Wood

It’s the most famous story in the history of dog shows. It was Westminster in 1969. New York was in the grip of a horrific snowstorm. The streets had grown icy as the weather had gotten colder. Walter Goodman was stepping carefully through the ice and snow outside the brand new Madison Square Garden. He carried his Skye Terrier, Ch. Glamoor Good News, in his arms. Goodman’s mother was walking with him.

Someone in a cab yelled out, “Hey, Walter, why don’t you let the dog walk and carry your mother?”

Walter Goodman called back, “I’m not showing my mother.”

That year, Susie, the Skye Terrier went on to Best in Show: bred, owned, handled, groomed and adored by Walter Goodman.

Talk to Walter Goodman, and you’ll soon learn that the man behind the famous story is witty, urbane, generous and friendly. He’s a peace-maker among some of the sport’s larger-than-life personalities, an art lover, and a great story teller. He’s one of the most interesting people in purebred dogs.

HOW IT GOT STARTED:

The world of Skye Terriers – and later dog shows – all opened for Goodman when he was on vacation in Paris as a boy. It was 1936 and he was walking with his mother and sister, when they saw a woman walking a Skye. That changed everything.

“I fell in love with it,” remembers Goodman. “We spoke French, and spoke with her. She had a three puppies.” That night at their hotel, Walter reminded his mother that his brother and sister had always had a dog. Walter was 14 and wanted a dog of his own. Soon, they were at the breeder’s chateau, meeting puppies. When they returned to America, a little Skye puppy named Jamie came home with them.

“My parents always talked about their families having Skye Terriers. They were really probably Paisleys or Clydesdales,” Walter says.
But after Jamie, the family breed was certainly Skyes.

Two more pet Skyes followed. Then, in about 1939, Walter’s mother, Adele, went to England and bought two more Skyes: Laughing Clown de Luchar and Aylsa of Merrymount, bred by Lady Marcia Miles.

“Clownie was very handsome,” remembers Goodman. Famed terrier judge Robert Sedgwick encouraged Walter and Adele to show the dogs. They were shown once, but then the war years intervened. Clownie was used at stud several times by some of the top Skye kennels. Walter, who already had a keen eye for dogs while still in his teens, suggested to his mother that they take an unrelated bitch puppy for a stud fee. The pup was High Time Miss Gesty (called “Laurie”), bred by Mrs. Charles W. Dewey, Jr.

Not only did Laurie become Goodman’s foundation bitch – she brought him smack dab into the middle of the world of dog shows.

“Frank Brumby showed her,” remembers Goodman. Laurie won a Terrier Group First at the age of 14 months. “We were flat on our backs, overwhelmed and carrying on,” says Walter. “This is how you get bitten.”
Laurie went on to be the first American-bred Skye Terrier to go Best in Show, winning the Ladies Kennel Association show in 1950.

BECOMING AN OWNER-HANDLER:

Walter had an interest in handling his own dogs very early on. He credits Frank and Bob Brumby with giving him help learning how to handle. He still has good words to say about these professionals who generously showed him some of the tricks of the trade.

But Walter jumped into handling his own dogs big time in 1955 when he realized that his dog wasn’t the top priority for these busy handlers.
“I’ll never forget it. We were at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Frank was handling a West Highland White Terrier owned by Gertrude Lawrence and bred by Maurice Evans. Bob was showing Robert Sedgwick’s Smooth Fox. I thought, where the heck is Doodles (You’ll Do de Luchar)?”

When there didn’t seem to be a plan to get Doodles ready to do his best in the group, Walter got upset. “I said, ‘Never mind. I’ll groom him and I’ll take him in.’” This show was nearly 50 years ago; you can still hear the pride in Walter’s voice when he reports, “I got third in the group and beat the Westie.”

Soon, Goodman was one of the sport’s most prominent owner-handlers. “I never meant to get so involved,” he says.

But generations of his breeding were doing a lot of winning under his skillful hands.

A LONG LINE OF GREAT DOGS:
Walter Goodman’s Skye Terriers have set some records that may never be broken. He won Best of Breed at Westminster 16 times, placing in the group their 11 times – including two Group Firsts (with Best in Show winner Ch. Glamoor Good News in 1969 and with her nephew, Ch. Glamoor Gang Buster in 1972).

There were many great dogs: Ch. Glamoor Going Up (Gogo). The imported bitch Evening Star de Luchar (Evie); Doodles (Evie’s brother from another litter), and Evie’s daughter Ch. Glamoor Twinkle Star (Blondie). And there was Jackie (Ch. Jacinthe de Ricelaine). “Jackie broke every record in the book. She had 97 group firsts and 36 Best in Shows.”
Then there was the litter that went down in history. Goodman bred Gogo and Jackie in 1962. All nine puppies finished their championships – by the time they were 18 months old.

One of the pups, Ch. Glamoor Go Go Go (Junior) became a top special.
But the big story was the puppy who seemed to have trouble finding the right home.

THE TRUE STORY OF SUSIE, AND WINNING AT THE GARDEN:

Goodman was never a large scale breeder, and his first priority has always been to find happy homes for his puppies. The same was true for the nine puppies born to Jackie and Gogo. “I didn’t want to sell any of them, but we weren’t in the dog business,” says Goodman. So, little Susie was sold to a home in Canada, but before she was sent to the new home, the husband died, and his widow wasn’t up for the new dog. Walter’s brother took Susie for a while, but it didn’t work out.

“Finally, I came home one day, and she’s back in the house. I said, ‘You’re staying here.’”

After completing her championship, Susie was shown very little until 1967 – her brother Junior was the dog that was winning in the show ring.

That all changed. In 1967 and 1968, Susie won 13 Best in Shows. She was the number 4 dog in the country, and the number two terrier.

But the nation’s top dog was also a terrier – the great Kerry Blue, Ch. Melbee’s Chances Are, owned by Mel and Bee Schlesinger. Chances Are was the odds-on favorite to win going into the Garden.

The show didn’t start out well for Walter Goodman. In the middle of the snow and ice, his mother had made her way to the Garden. This wasn’t an easy feat – the weather had brought traffic, and taxis, to a stand-still. “Mother stopped a car on 42nd and got a man to drive her there,” says Goodman, still amazed that his mother talked a perfect stranger into giving her a ride through a snowstorm. All he could think of is that he had to get his mother home through the snow that night.

The Kerry Blue won his breed, as expected. “Everyone assumed he would win the group,” says Walter. But the great dog didn’t show as well as usual, and Susie showed her heart out. Judge E. Pennington Meyer gave the nod to Susie.

Goodman remembers going into the Best in Show ring. “I had no illusions,” he says. Halfway through the judging, Goodman realized he had a problem. “I suddenly realized that I’d left her comb at the end of the ring where we’d been posed. I left Susie standing there. I crept around to the end of the ring, and retrieved my comb. Susie looked at me as if to ask, ‘What the hell are you doing?’” Finally, judge Louis Murr pointed to Walter for Best in Show. “I really fell through the floor when he pointed at me. It was a tremendous surprise.” But even in this moment of joy, Walter Goodman had mixed emotions. “The Schlesingers were some of my best friends in dogs. We were all sitting together. I just knew how they felt – it hurts. The beauty is that they always remained two of my best friends.”

Twenty-five years later, Goodman judged Best in Show at Westminster, giving the win to the Norwich Terrier, Ch. Chidley Willum the Conqueror. And, just like 1969, the show was held during a terrible snowstorm.

REFLECTIONS.

Walter Goodman is an outgoing, warm person who has some of the best stories in dogdom. Here are a few of Walter’s thoughts on dogs, dog showing, and the life he’s led so far.

LIFE AS AN OWNER-HANDLER:

Goodman is the rare nonprofessional who has consistently held his own against the top handlers in the sport.

But when you ask about his techniques, you soon realize that his choice to handle his own dogs came in large part from the fact that he loved to spend time with his dogs. He describes each dog – even the occasional quirky one – in loving detail.

“I always got a great thrill handling my own dogs,” he says. “They were never kenneled as such. Sometimes we had to separate boys who didn’t get along very well; I would take one, mother would take one. They were pets.” Each time he was in the ring with one of his dogs, it was a love story.

THE DAY THAT MOTHER HANDLED A DOG:

Walter will be the first to tell you that his mother was a character. Still, you can hear the warmth in his voice when he talks about her. And there are some great stories.

Like the day his mother handled one of the dogs. “I was in Ithaca, New York. I’d won Bred by Exhibitor and Open Dog,” remembers Goodman. Usually another handler was available to help with the extra dog, but on this day everyone was tied up. “I was stuck,” says Walter. “There was my mother in her chair with her mink coat. She gets up and takes the coat, puts it over her left arm with her purse and the dog. Ernest Crowley was judging. He wanted Mother to move the dog. She looks at him and says, ‘That’s all right, he’s supposed to win,’ – and pointed to me. Everyone heard.”

The stunned judge did require the dog to gait, but did eventually agree with Adele Goodman’s assessment and gave the win to Walter

ABOUT THAT GLAMOROUS NAME:

Goodman’s kennel prefix is Glamoor. But don’t pronounce it “Glamour” (like the magazine). It’s pronounced GLAY-more (rhymes with “Say More”). The kennel name was originally spelled “Glaemoor,” which included letters from his name, as well as his mother’s and father’s. “Mother wanted something else, and we were stuck with it,” says Walter wryly.

CELEBRITY STORIES:

It seems only natural that Goodman would have had more than his fair share of touches with celebrities.

It first happened with his first litter – when he bred Laughing Clown de Luchar and Aylsa of Merrymount. Cy Walter, a famous pianist and arranger of the era, bought a puppy from the litter.

But that was just the beginning. The Broadway play that was the talk of the town in 1953 was “Wonderful Town,” starring Rosalind Russell. Dody Goodman was one of the actors in the play, which had featured Dody’s own dog. The dog was getting old, so the producers staged a big audition for a replacement for the play. A friend convinced Goodman to take one of his dogs for the audition. Zuzu (Ch. Yule de Mandane) got the part and was in the show every night (except when he was entered in the Garden, and Laurie took his place).

Dody Goodman fell in love with the dog. “She said, ‘Those dogs are marvelous. I want to take them to Hollywood and star them with Trigger.’” Zuzu actually later appeared on Dody’s television show.

Even the elusive Greta Garbo spoke to the Zuzu. “She was talking around me,” says Walter. In fact, Garbo was hanging around with her purported lover, Baron Erich von Goldschmidt-Rothschild. However, Garbo and Rothschild only spoke French to each other. “I never told them I spoke French, too,” says Goodman with a smile.

Years later, Garbo did speak – in English. She saw Walter walking his dogs in Manhattan, and said to him, “You always take such good care of your dogs.”

Zuzu seemed to find himself in the middle of a lot of celebrity attention. Walter took him abroad ship when he went to the Queen’s coronation. On board were the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and their Pug, along with some other notables of the era and their dogs. Also on board was a cub reporter – named Jacqueline Bouvier, who was then engaged to a young Senator named John Kennedy.

“Jackie Bouvier wrote a column for the Washington Star about the dogs aboard the boat,” he says. In later years, says Goodman, “She’d come to the Garden and look me up.”

And there were other celebrities at dog shows, like the time that Perle Mesta, Washington’s famous “hostess with the mostest” presented the Best in Show trophy. “She almost dropped it on the dog,” he says.

JUDGING OWNER-HANDLERS:

Goodman is a popular judge who is approved for Terriers and Best in Show. We asked him about owner-handlers in the ring. “I love the Bred by Exhibitor Class – I have empathy for it,” he says. “I’m not going to make any allowances for the owner-handler unless they’re a complete novice. You’ve got to judge the dog. Sometimes the owner-handler does better because he or she knows the dog so well.”

THE PROLIFERATION OF SHOWS:

“I think we have too many shows. I think it’s terrible for the dogs and it’s terrible for the people,” says Goodman. “I don’t think we have less quality of dogs, but they’re spread out all over the country. You can pick where you think you’ll do best.”

DOG ART AND DOG CLUBS:

Walter Goodman has an eye for art, as well as dogs. He’s an avid collector of dog art, including one of the most famous dog paintings of all time, “The Dog Market” painted by Abraham Hondius in 1677. This magnificent painting is shown in William Secord’s book Dog Painting: The European Breeds, and is studied by art classes of all kinds.

He has several pieces, including famous dog artist Arthur Wardle’s self-portrait. “He looks like an Edwardian dandy,” says Goodman.

Goodman is a member of the Board of Directors of the AKC Museum of the Dog, and recently donated two beautiful Wardle Fox Terrier paintings to the museum. He also supports other animal-related charities, including serving on the Board of Overseers to the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.

He’s also been a member of the AKC Board of Directors for nearly 15 years. He’s a member of the Westminster Kennel Club, the Palm Beach Kennel Club, the Westbury Kennel Association, the Kennel Club (England), and is President of the Montgomery County Kennel Club. His next judging assignment is in Miami in December.

ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR PEOPLE IN THE SPORT:

One of the ways of judging a person is to hear the tone of voice that other people use when they talk about him. More often than not, just saying Walter Goodman’s name brings a smile.

This is a man who loves dogs. He’ll talk just as long about his 13 year-old Norfolk Terrier who is his companion as he does about the dog who won Westminster. He worries when a bitch is bred, and mourns the animals who died – even a half-century ago.

He has an edgy wit without meanness. He’s got sophistication without smugness. He adores a beautiful dog – and he adores someone’s pet. He moves among prominent members of society, and will take the time to talk with a complete stranger.

When Walter Goodman reflects on his life in dogs, he says, “I’ve loved every minute of it. The long trips and the funny experiences. I just love it.”
This is a man who has brought much to the sport – and not just one funny comment on a snowy day in New York.

Deborah Wood is an award-winning columnist for The Oregonian newspaper, and is the author of Top Dogs: Making It to Westminster.

Short URL: https://caninechronicle.com/?p=186742

Posted by on Jul 5 2020. Filed under Current Articles, Dog Show History, Featured, Remembering Our Past?. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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