This Was Frank Hardy
By Stanley Orne, Editor of The American Dachshund
(excerpts from The American Dachshund, December 1967)
submitted by Bob Bray and Jeanne Rice
W. Frank Hardy, aged 56 and bothered by a bad heart didn’t feel much like stirring on the morning of October 28.
Nor did he want to stay home in Douglassville, PA.
He and his wife, Dorothy, had been going to dog shows together as professional handlers most weekends during their 15 years of married life, and on that Saturday they were to go to the Queensboro Kennel Club show on Long Island.
Frank had been ailing more than usual during the past year, and Dorothy had lifted much of the burden of work off him. She prepared to go to Queensboro to show most of the string of Dachshunds they were currently handling for enthusiastic clients.
So, rather than spend the day at home without her, Frank bestirred his 250 or so pounds and went along. That, at least, he could do again. And after this show they would vacation in Bermuda.
Joked and worked. Then —
At ringside he joked with friends. He worked that day, too. He handled Mr. and Mrs. Charles C. Stalter’s Ch. Little Bit O’ Jack to Best of Variety, Smooth. Two hours later his heart troubled him badly.
Some of the friends who saw him leave in an ambulance weren’t unusually concerned. They recalled somewhat similar occurrences in past months. About a year ago Frank was hospitalized to reduce his weight by – he said – more than 100 pounds. As a result of weeks in the hospital Frank looked comparatively thin in a happy, smiling picture taken at the Florida East Coast DC Specialty show last January and published on the April cover of The American Dachshund.
But on the Sunday morning after Queensboro, Frank was dead in a nearby hospital.
A Dachshund background
Life for Frank began in Germany. He was the son of an army officer. He had a vivid memory of his father striding across the courtyard of their estate with nine or ten Dachshunds at his feet. One of his grandfathers had bred Wirehaired Dachshunds with the kennel name Hubertus, a name that Frank used in his American breeding activities.
He came to the U.S. in 1934, stayed with the Baruch banking family (his father had been a vice-president of the stock exchange in Berlin). He became an American citizen. He studied at the foreign service school in Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.
But dogs were to become his first interest.
With OSS in World War II
World War II interrupted Mr. Hardy’s breeding career (he also bred Bassets), and for five years he was with the Office of Strategic Services, in the branch called Dogs for Defense. During the war he was gassed, an experience to which he attributed the heart trouble that followed.
Iola (Woody) Pflueger of Boynton Beach, Fla., recalls that he was running Macy’s pet accessory shop in New York City in 1939, and that in 1940 he showed two wirehaired bitches under her at a midsummer show in Far Hills, N.J. In later years, writes Mrs. Pflueger, “one of these entries became the grandmother of the great show and producing Wire, Brentwald’s Joshua.”
After the war he resumed the breeding program and opened a grooming and pet accessory business on West 58th St., New York City, This information from Mrs. Pflueger, who continues:
“His shop became a regular stop on the route I followed when I exercised a Dachshund or two. Chats with Frank on Dachshund bloodlines and pedigrees were a treat I looked forward to. His presence will be felt in many breeding programs of the future.”
Because of that experience with war gas, Mr. Hardy found indoor work uncomfortable, and he soon saw handling as a way to combine interest and necessity. His success as a handler and in judging Dachshunds is portrayed bit by bit in the tributes to him and anecdotes about him published in this issue.
Headed Professional Handlers
For three years up to the time of his death, Mr. Hardy had been president of the Professional Handlers Association.
On short notice, friends from many parts of the Eastern states and from as far as Detroit, Cleveland, and Chicago went to the funeral establishment in Jamaica, N.Y., on the day after he died to show their respect and affection for Frank. Mrs. Hardy was touched by the sight of the venerable Rudolph Tauskey, the dog photographer, who went there from his New Jersey home. Mr. Tauskey uses two walking sticks to get around.
Near the former Hardy home on Long Island, the ashes were interred with military ceremony in Pine Lawn military cemetery.
A few days later Mrs. Hardy had decided to carry on the Hardy business. “Frank would want me to”, she said.
Tributes and Anecdotes . . . .
Laurence Alden Horswell, dog writer, judge, College Point, NY: Frank Hardy, R.I.P. I cannot say that it came as a surprise – although there is always a shock in the ultimate finality – when we heard Sunday morning that Frank Hardy had not survived the Queensboro KC weekend. Our thoughts still review the score of years we have known him and Dachshunds of his Hubertus Kennels, as well as more that he has handled professionally. There is not room enough to recount or expand on such a long record.
Particularly I remember one night some decade ago, after a Worchester, Mass. show where my wife had judged Dachshunds and I the other Hound breeds, that he joined several of us for an impromptu dinner, and then insisted on driving the two of us home to East Elmhurst, directly on his way to East Meadow, Long Island, through what developed to be a very industrious snowstorm; instilling in us the same confidence that he conveyed to Dachshunds he has handled in the ring. Other recollections cover a number of occasions when Dachshunds he handled had not won their respective classes, and he subsequently volunteered quite accurately the shortcomings in which winning competitors had excelled.
I am sure that he understood the hazards of the various physical and emotional stresses he incurred in continuing to handle top competition practically every weekend, at whatever distances from Douglassville. As lately as as DALI [June 1967] he showed me two kinds of pills and an oxygen inhaler that he mentioned were for emergency use if needed before a doctor could be called. Such courage supplies its own reward in controlling one’s destiny.
As Marie Fuchs of Astarte Kennels some 30 years ago remarked on her deathbed, there are by this time enough good Dachshunds and good Dachshund lovers in the ‘Happy Hunting Grounds’ to operate a very creditable and pleasant Dachshund Club beyond our horizons.
Mary Miller of Virginia, recalls an incident of Frank Hardy’s generous praise of other handlers. “Seven or eight years ago at a Missouri show, a group of us was watching the Dachshund judging. Frank was at ringside, too, and he interrupted our appraisal of the dogs to say, “Look! There is a really great handler. One is never aware of the man, only the animal. Such a pleasure to watch.” With typically wry humor he added, “I wish I could do that, but I am so big!” And it was a pleasure to watch the flawless, effortless performance of a famous “prestige” handler – now a judge – from the Southwest.
Frank told me once that canine newcomers to his kennel were often taken to bed at night, like a family pet, “so as to give them confidence,” he used to say. Once I saw him explode with indignation in reply to a flip and jesting word of criticism from a rival handler. “I value this dog,” he said. “It belongs to a client. I will not listen.” Turning his back, he stalked to the other side of the ring.
Frank was not only a top handler; he was a splendid judge, too. On June 25, 1966, the last time I saw him judge [professional handlers were allowed to judge Specialty shows at this time], he had a huge entry of Smooths at DALI. My catalog says there were 237 entries of 182 dogs. He came prepared with pads and pencils for his notes and commentary, and, as the day was hot and Frank felt the heat, he had a stack of small towels for the fevered brow. He was a relaxed and smiling judge. He moved with quick confidence, and his pleasure in the quality of his assignment did much to lessen the tension of competition among the exhibitors. He did a fine job, and when the assignment came to an end in the early dusk, Frank was still relaxed and smiling.
Leonore Adler: At the 1967 DALI show I watched Frank’s handling, and it was impressive to see how wonderfully his Dachsies showed. He stood straight in front of his dogs, flipped the thin lead, gave it a quick tug, and his entries stood and posed without being set up. I asked him the secret of his technique. “Are you kidding?” he said as he wiped his forehead. “They have to stand right by themselves – I can’t bend down all the time to set them up.”
Daphne McReynolds: At a Michigan show in a fairgrounds building, exhibitors and dogs were huddled together for warmth. Frank told several of us about some of the great dogs he had handled – Lazybones, whom he loved like a child. Dorothy had to buy a new mattress because Lazybones had dug a hole in the one he and Frank were sleeping on.
Donia Cline: Having known Frank Hardy about 20 years, I watched him grow into a powerful figure in the dog game. His first love no doubt was Dachshunds, and especially his beloved miniatures; second, surely Bassets. But to me, Frank was a thing called “happy”ness; he won 24 out of 25 shows with my Ch. Crespi’s Happy New Year. That was a wonderful and exciting time
Trudy Coldwell: It never bothered me to be competing against Frank. I knew that he would not ‘upstage’ me, as many handlers do. One of my fondest recollections of Frank was at a party at Nancy Onthank’s in 1963. He was getting ready to go over to England for judging and was complaining about the clothes he was having to buy for the trip (they dress for dinner over there). He had to order black patent leather shoes, for they did not have his large size in stock. It tickled me to imagine Frank all dressed up with shoes like that. At summer shows his white buck shoes were always so white that they distracted me as we all moved around the circle for the judge. In movies that Mike (the late Mr. Caldwell) took of one show, all you seem to notice is the whiteness of Franks’ white, white bucks . . . . What more can one say than that Frank liked his competitor?
Ann Gordon: All of us tend to associate a person with one particular dog he has shown. Forester is the dog that I always associated with Frank. Frank called him “Red”. At the Metro Washington Specialty in October Frank showed Forester and, as he started to gait down the center of the ring, he said, as he always had, “C’mon Red!”. . . . These are the last words that I was to hear him speak.
Mrs. Wallace Alford: At the time of our first Dachshund, Frank began to come to our shows in Raleigh. As our friendship grew, he and his wonderful Dottie broke their trips to Florida occasionally by stopping overnight with us. Their spirit of competition with each other in the ring doubled us up. From a DALI show Wallace brought back an expression that will always remain as “typical Frank” to us. Both he and Dottie were showing dogs in BV competition, each one of the dogs worthy of winning BB. Frank thought he had the better chance to win, but he didn’t win. His first remark to Dottie after they were out of the ring, a remark he repeated several times on into the night and the next day, the accent heavy with heart-felt emotion: “Dottie, how do you do dat?” This “how do you do dat?” phrase became a greeting between Wallace and Frank, even on the phone. It struck Wallace’s funny bone then, but now it just brings tears.
We didn’t learn of Frank’s musical ability until a few years back. The first time both Frank and Dottie were at our home, Dottie was under the weather with a virus, so she was tucked into bed. The next morning, while Wallace presided over a skillet full of country ham, Frank was at the organ, playing arias from one opera after another. As a child in Germany, he had been taken to the opera house, where his family had a box, and he heard all of the famous singers of the time. He was playing Wagnerian operas when Dottie appeared that morning singing Valkyries’ “Ho-jo-to-ho!” Since Frank was not playing that particular aria, it was even funnier. We were delighted that Dottie felt up to joining the fun.
Wilfred Boyer: During a visit to the Hardy’s home in Douglassville shortly before they lost Johann [Ch. Johannis Strauss], Frank said, “This is my greatest love.” Johann’s bed was there in front of a very large double-door refrigerator, which had a big lock on it. I’m not sure yet whether food, Dottie or Johann was the greatest love to which Frank referred.
Eugene Shabatura: As a novice in Wirehaired Dachshunds, I received a lot of help from him. He would take time at a show to listen to your problems. Helpful tips from Frank and Dorothy on trimming a Wire were vauable to me . . . . Frank told me a few years ago that he was going out to California to judge, but wasn’t looking forward to it because his sister out there would get after him for not losing a little weight. I stopped at the Harry Sharpe place in Wisconsin the other day. Harry and Vivian said Frank was an honest handler and knew his Dachshunds. Once when his dog was placed over the Sharpes’ dog, he told them they they had the better dog and should have won.
Mrs. Charles E. Davis: At a West Coast show the Dachshund judge had done a particularly inadequate job. Frank and others had been dumped. Many handlers and exhibitors were irate. But not Frank. He walked over and bought a copy of “The Complete Dog Book”, waited until the judge had finished his assignment, sat down beside him, and read and explained the standard at length. The judge was first amazed, then interested, and then appreciative.
Shortly after Elizabeth von Nidda died, Frank called to say he was having a challenge trophy made and would like to offer it at our Florida East Coast DC show in her memory, but he did not want his name listed as the donor because shortly before her death she and he had a disagreement and she changed handlers.
Ramona and Kippy Van Court: We shall miss him very much. So will the great legion of friends, not only Dachshund fanciers but fanciers of all other breeds. So will his fellow handlers, who elected him president of the Professional Handlers Association. So will the judges he showed under, for they recognized his great knowledge of dogs and his ability to show them. Above all they recognized that he was a real sportsman, win or lose. Frank found happiness in the fact that he had so many friends.
Dr. C. William Nixon: In all areas of our breed, Frank Hardy was respected. . . . His knowledge was evident when he judged, his ability to show a dog at its best is legendary. Although he went into the ring to win, he was courteous when he didn’t. We have lost one who knew our breed as few do, and we are the poorer.
E. Dolores Faust: When the curtain came down he was doing the thing he loved most . . . . He contributed greatly to the progress and popularity of our breed . . . . a symbol and a legend in his own time.
Walter Gene Thomas, DVM: One half of the Mr. and Mrs. Dachshund team . . . . A more devoted Dachshund enthusiast than Frank never lived. True, he handled other breeds and showed them to perfection, but his loyalty to Dachshunds, Miniature and Standard, never wavered. He knew Dachshunds, and sometimes he was criticized for winning when he really should have been complimented for knowing how to pick winning dogs . . . We all have to go sometime, but we like to know that we made a good mark on the pages of time. Frank made such a mark.
Jeannette W. Cross: Frank’s death is a sad loss to all of the dog fancy. His achievements as president of the Professional Handlers Association were of tremendous value. The PHA’s annual educational conference came into being under his guidance and are probably the most constructive activity taking place in the dog world. But Dachshund people will miss Frank the most, for we knew his delightful humor, his generosity, and his kindness. He brought prestige to the breed. . . .
Maxwell Riddle: Frank Hardy was a great steadying influence in dogdom, particularly , in Dachshunds. He had monumental knowledge, knew type very well, and was cool-headed both in and out of the ring. He avoided the battles and schisms which occur often in breed clubs, and, in doing so, won the admiration and respect of all who knew him.
Gordon Carvill: He was a symbol of everything we in the sport of dogs should strive to be. His example sparked a desire in many breeders and exhibitors to do more for the breed.