This is a hard article for me to write as Mr. Cook was such a great influence on me and my dogs since I thought his and Ann Gordon’s opinions were the two Judges that I wanted most to like my dogs. His Kleetal Kennel was a major winner on the East Coast in the Fifties and Sixties, shown by several handlers, and here in the Midwest, shown by Lorraine Heichel. Two of his dogs, CH Kleetal’s Congenial from 1952 and CH Kleetal’s Rondo from 1954, were DCA BV/BB winners and you have to remember about what he brought to the Dachshund mix which were great fronts and a really beautiful look and, when he judged all these years later, those were the things he was still looking for. In the Show Ring, Mr Cook had all the dogs face the front so he could compare fronts and see where they needed help and, if your dogs passed these tests, he would be in the Winners Circle in the Ring on that day.He was a great friend to all and loved to help everyone starting out, making it a point to get to know everyone showing our Breed and becoming a friend to them. He was past Secretary, past President and Director of DCA and was currently active in the Club until his death in 1994.
At first, even though he was a great friend to Dee, to Hannelore and to the Moffetts, I still was very unsure about showing to him and so I avoided him for my first few years in the breed and watched him judge. My friends, Asa and Karen Mays, were showing my bitch, CH Boondox Anka v Zencor, and they loved John as a Judge. They showed Anka to him and he gave her a BV from the puppy class and made her a Group Placer!! Needless to say, I was pleased and really ecstatic that he liked my dog since he was such a Dachshund authority. From then on, I decided to show to him and see how my other dogs did.
I think I started showing to him at a DCA Specialty in Denver in July 1980 and, of course, did well. Mr. Cook judged Longhairs and he gave my BBE entry, CH Boondox Beggar’s Banquet,who I co-owned with the Mays, WD and BOW for his first major. What a thrill that was to win under such a renowned Judge at the best place there was to show Dachshunds!! It was a nice start, but Mr Cook always liked my dogs and usually found them, no matter who was showing them.
At our next show, we showed to him at a Specialty in Cincinnati, OH and while we did alright, dog-wise, it was our dinner afterwards which stands out!! John went out with me, the Mays family and the Spritzer family and, while all of us ‘knew’ him but we were in for quite a surprise!! While we were eating, we had a great time, talking about so many dog-related things, but, while conversing, John all of a sudden fell asleep , with a forkful of food headed to his mouth!! We all looked at each other and, making sure he was all right, we just sort of carried on and, in a few minutes, John woke up and was right where we left off the original conversation!! None of us mentioned the ‘little nap’ he took and , unbelievably, it happened a couple more times when we were eating that evening!! It was quite a shock and, as we heard from talking to other people, it happened all the time and yet no one ever talked about it so this is one reason I am including it in my reminiscences here. I believe he suffered from some sort of a sleep apnea and it seems everyone knew about it, but none of us ever talked about it, so it was quite a surprise when it happened.
Back in 1981, Carol Spritzer and I went East to some Pennsylvania shows and we had Borzoi and Dachshunds to show. At one of the middle shows, John was judging Dachshunds and they were to go on as Borzois were finishing up. In talking to him before judging, we said we hated that as there are just two of us and why should our two breeds be scheduled at the same time. John thought for a minute and, never saying a word, stayed at his lunch an extra forty-five minutes so that the Borzoi were over and , while Bobby Fowler and Gordon Carvill were complaining about his ‘long lunch’, he then came back and did the Breed the right way, just at the wrong time!! We were showing Wires and I was showing my bitch, CH Rose Farms Gypsy Moth W, and, in Winners, she took one look at the wall and decided that was it, she was not going to take another step and so John immediately pointed to her as Winners before she even had to take a step toward that dreaded wall. I just picked her up and headed for the Winners spot and so we headed for the next show with happy memories and a few nice wins.
Needless to say, we became quite good friends and always tried to get him elected to do any DCA Varieties that were available as he was always so consistent in his placements. He did judge the DCA Long Variety in 1984 in Pennsylvania and I was pleased that I had the WD Long with Boondox Indigo v Walmar, the WB Long with Rose Farms Hannelore Boondox and the BOS Long with CH Rose Farms Dolly v Boondox, all great new young dogs and who became Top Producers as soon as they could have. That was a huge show for me and those great new dogs became fantastic ones for passing on their good qualities for myself and Ruth Martucci .
After that, in 1984, my CH Boondox Panama Jack ROMO was born and John was NOT a fan. He never won under Mr Cook nor did he ever even win a class under him. In fact, Walt Jones beat him a couple of times in the puppy class with a good, but not great, puppy before PJ was really ready to show and while we all the time knew that PJ was the better dog, we take the wins as we get them, no matter the source, and appreciate it while it lasts. While Mr Cook and myself might have parted company for awhile, at least in Longhairs, we certainly never did and were always great friends, but, when PJ’s kids hit the ring, he was their biggest fan and put them up all over the place. He could pick out the PJ kids even though they were shown by people that he never even knew… but they were always winners in Mr Cook’s ring.
John and his wife Margaret came to our place to stay in the Spring when I had a lot of PJ puppies around and so I brought out CH Boondox Quicksilver‘s puppies which were my AA litter and so put All Aglow, Astaire, After Dark and Alydar out as 12 week old puppies and John and Margaret loved looking at those little puppies, posing and showing themselves and we had a long talk about what he looked for at this age and what we did as well and were happy to know we were looking at the same things. I personally, of course, never showed those puppies to John, but certainly enjoyed telling him of their wins along the way and he certainly enjoyed hearing about them. One thing to remember about my discussions with Mr Cook was that we never talked about my dogs, but anything else was great fun to learn about and he always tried to teach whomever he was talking to as that was his interest in the Breed. Once, at a show, Mr Cook was sitting next to one of my friends and they were chatting away and I was glad they were getting to know each other. After the show, I asked my friend what they talked about and he said.” Oh, he was talking, but I just let it go in one ear and out the other”. It sort of made me sad, because I knew, anyway, that Mr Cook was one we all should be learning anything he wanted to talk about and it was our loss if we didn’t pay attention to what John was talking about.
Later the next year, there were a couple of shows in the Chicago area and two of my favorite Judges were judging, Mr Cook and his cousin, Mrs Walton were each judging Dachshunds one day and the other one doing the Group that day, so on Saturday, Mrs Walton was judging the Breed and Mr Cook was doing the Group and the next day they changed assignments. I was showing my new black and tan puppy, Rose Farms Boondox Essence, and my beautiful CH Boondox Bermarg Treasure L and, just as you know something was bound to happen, Peg Walton gave the puppy BV and poor Treasure walked. I thought, “Oh, Shit! What do I do now.” Anyway, I knew John had never seen Treasure and I knew he would love the black and tan puppy so went ahead and showed her and she got a Group IV in one of the toughest Groups EVER and I thought all along that he thought the puppy was Treasure. The next day, poor Treasure stayed in her crate and Roni (my name for Essence) got another Group placement under Mrs Walton after John gave her another Variety from the puppy class. Looking back, I should have known that Mrs Walton would always love the head and neck of that gorgeous puppy and would always give it the Breed. It was a weird weekend, but I had fun and so did the dogs.
Probably the last time I showed to John was at the Louisville DC in 1994, he gave me WD with Boondox Ziggurat L and WB with Boondox Yoko L right before the DCA in California where Ziggy was WD. I was pleased to know that he still loved my dogs as much as I did and that he still was one of their biggest backers at the shows, despite what others might think of his opinion.
The summer of 1994 moved on and John wound up staying with Janie and Bobby Fowler for awhile in September and October and I was at home, waiting for my wife to give birth to our new baby. Finally, on Tuesday, October 11, 1994, we went to the Hospital and after a long labor, my son, Will Joseph Harrison was born and, when I came home to do the dogs after Will’s birth that Tuesday, there was a message on my machine that Mr Cook had passed away at Bobby and Janie Fowler’s home in Pennsylvania while our son was being born. I was devastated and it still makes me sad that I won’t be able to talk with him any more and that I won’t be able to listen to him talk about the Dachshund, his Breed.
Many people thought that John and I were too close to show to each other, but he was really my ‘father’ in the Breed and taught me more by his judging and what he pointed to in the Ring than anyone else I can think of. I have had many friends who started out when I did (Wally, Mary, Susan and Martha) and many I learned from as I came up (Dee, Hannelore and Bobby and Janie) but no one shared what they knew more than Mr Cook did whether he was judging or talking or just observing the Breed. He truly was one of a kind when it came to Dachshunds in this country. I hope some day that we have another who wants to share his ideas as much as John Cook did.