Mr Ken Wheelhouse
I first saw Ken compete in Obedience at Balmoral Showgrounds on Easter Monday 1969, while I was a spectator at the Show. He was working a black Labrador called Jet.
I did not know the structure of the classes but had watched other dogs compete earlier on in the day at a standard that appeared to me to be nowhere as good as the performance I had just seen from Ken and Jet. I had never seen a better-trained dog. That was until I watched this same gentleman enter the ring with a White Border Collie called Pip. This round was fantastic. Pip completed all the exercises with speed, enthusiasm and accuracy and as a team, Ken and Pip were a dream to watch.
This was my first and most vivid memory of a man with whom I was to share a passion for Dog Obedience for many years.
During the following 30 years I have had the pleasure of stewarding for, judging Ken and being judged by Ken, as well as competing against him in Open C with various dogs.
For many years, if you beat Ken and one of his dogs, you won the class.
His enthusiasm for our sport, right up until I last spoke to him, two days before he passed away, never diminished.
He was always supportive to me personally in my role as Northern Ireland Representative to the Obedience Council and as Crufts Inter-Regional Team manager, always ready to give advice and the benefit of his experience. He was a co-selector for the Crufts Obedience teams and single-handedly managed the finance side of our Crufts Fund for many years.
Who else for over 20 years would bring scent cloths and scoreboards to every show? He rarely missed a show and in fact the first show of this season, due to be held the week before Crufts, was to be judged by none other than Ken.
Throughout the height of the "Troubles" (Mid 70's) when no one wanted to come to Northern Ireland to compete, judge or steward, Ken Wheelhouse kept most of our shows going. He also organised Inter-Club matches throughout the winter to help handlers gain competitive experience and confidence.
Ken was the head trainer at Glandore Dog Training Club of Ulster for over 30 years, a club he joined with his wife Sally in 1962.
Ken and Sally travelled from their home, across Belfast for their Monday and Friday night classes, through rain, hail, snow, bomb or bullet. Ken would be on the floor training and Sally would be at the door collecting money and welcoming all those who had decided to attend.
This is what Dog Training is all about, putting in more than you take out, and Ken certainly did that.
I know Ken's dream was to compete with his dogs in the main arena at Crufts. His dog Pip was most certainly good enough but never got the opportunity. Ken's other "star" dog, Jem could also have taken him there; however, was awarded the Reserve CC and hit the bar on other occasions.
Two years ago Ken got the chance to lead in the Northern Ireland Inter-Regional Obedience Team and was very proud to be acting Team Manager.
This year he would have had the pleasure of leading the Sunday Inter-Regional Team into the ring. However this was not to be.
To say that Ken will be missed at dog shows would be a gross understatement. Ken Wheelhouse WAS Northern Ireland Dog Obedience.
The foundations that he has laid will only serve to ensure that Obedience here will go from strength to strength, especially at his own club, Glandore.
The number of people who attended the service at Roselawn was testimony to the high regard in which he was held by so many.
I will personally miss Ken, as will all the all the members of his Dog Club and other Dog Clubs within Northern Ireland.
Our thoughts go to Sally, who will miss him the most.