(This article appeared in the March 2013 AKC Gazette.)

Jenny Osborne. Anyone who has been seriously involved with Beardies knows her name. Truly a pioneer of the breed, she acquired her first Beardies when Mrs. G.O. Willison, the lady who achieved recognition for the breed in England, was forced to give up breeding back in 1963 due to ill health. Two early champions, Ch. Bravo of Bothkennar and Ch. Blue Bonnie of Bothkennar, joined the Osborne family in Lancashire and formed the foundation for Osmart kennels, now known worldwide. Incidentally, my first Beardie (1969) was sired by an Osmart bred dog, litter brother to the famed Ch. Osmart Bonnie Blue Braid.

Jenny was not only a noted breeder, dedicated mentor and astute judge, she was also an ambassador for the breed. The Beardie world lost one of its best-known personalities when she died last fall after a brief illness. Jenny always seemed to have a twinkle in her eyes and was blessed with a droll British sense of humor. Those who knew her usually had their favorite Jenny story. Here’s two of mine.

Mentoring a young lady ringside who was interested in judging, Jenny commented that judges were often called upon to evaluate a dog for its owner outside of the ring. She pointed out the owners were often people who possessed pets and wondered if they might be of sufficient quality to show. Be honest but not cruel. She cautioned her to be kind, no matter how bad an example of the breed the dog might be, reminding her that it was someone’s beloved pet. “You can always find something to compliment,” she instructed. “When I’m stuck, I just tell them their dog has a lovely temperament.”

As Jenny had predicted, a little while later they were approached by a lady requesting an evaluation of her dog which happened to be a very pitiful example of the breed. To top it off, when Jenny reached out to go over it, the dog bared its teeth and snarled at her. “There goes the ‘lovely temperament’ line,” thought her student, curious to hear what compliment Jenny could concoct. Non-plussed, Jenny stepped back, smiled at the owner and said, “My, isn’t he clean.”

On one of her trips to the U.S., Jenny judged a Beardie match on the west coast. The owner of the top-winning Beardie at that time, a group-winning bitch, entered her under Jenny.

An attractive Beardie with an impressive, ground-devouring stride, she was overly large for a bitch. Jenny passed her by when handing out the ribbons. The owner approached her and politely enquired, “You didn’t like my girl?”

“She’s too masculine for my taste,” Jenny replied. “Masculine?” the owner said in surprise. “I wouldn’t call her masculine!”

“Right, then,” Jenny snapped back with a smile, “would you settle for lesbian?”

alice bixler

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