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Percy Whitaker - A tribute
15 August 1905 to 29 December 2002


WITH THE death of Mr Percy Whitaker in the early hours of Sunday 29 December 2002, the Chow world lost its oldest and probably most knowledgeable devotee. Percy was already a legend in the world of dogs when we became associated with him in the early 80’s. He was of course Kennel Manager with the famous ‘Amwell Kennels’ of the late Lady Faudel Phillips from the early 1920’s until her ladyship’s death in 1944.

A few years later he joined forces with Eric and Joan Egerton and helped to create the most successful chow kennel ever, ‘Ukwong’. For these two kennels Percy prepared and showed some of the most prodigious winning Chows, the most famous of these being ‘Ukwong King Soloman’. Percy’s life has been well documented over the years, so when John and I came into Chows and found out that ‘Mr Chow’ lived just around the corner from us, we met Percy and his wife Helen, who was also a well respected judge in her own right. Percy suffered the loss of his partner just a few months short of their 60th wedding anniversary. This was the time that John and I became more involved with Percy on a day to day basis, making sure he had a cooked evening meal and was coping well with all his daily requirements.

Percy kept up with the advice and encouragement in those early days and, when one of my bitches produced a litter of puppies, he picked out a black bitch we called ‘Himwin Rhula’. This brought a real sparkle to his eyes; “you have a good one here”, he said. Travelling from one end of the country to another doing the shows with Rhula and my dog partner Ken Smith and his black bitch Midnight Masquerade seemed to keep Percy young at heart.

Indeed John, Ken and I believe this interest and purpose in his later years maybe extended his life a little more. Of course Percy was also known for being Chow correspondent for OUR DOGS for over 60 years, so you could say his views and opinions were well recorded.

When in 1992 John and I, along with Ken and Anne Smith, decided to import a dog, Percy was thrilled and a big help. He made contact with Paul Odenkirchen in Canada and started the ball rolling for us. You would have thought Percy was just starting out in Chows, so excited he was at the prospect of bringing a dog over from abroad. At this time Percy was of course 87 years old but showed no sign of losing any passion for going to the shows, because this was where he was happiest talking to friends old and new about dogs.

He would travel with Ken and me, and many a time we would call around to pick him up in the early hours of the morning. He would be standing at the gate of his house bright eyed, bushy tailed and raring to go, keeping both Ken and me awake on long journeys by telling us about his life in dogs. His good days, and a few bad ones.

Many of the shows we attended Percy would say proudly, “you know I have won BIS and awarded BIS in this venue”. He would also comment that when Himwin Rhula, Midnight Masquerade and later Himwin Tyga all won their champion titles it gave him just as much pleasure and satisfaction as he had felt with other more famous dogs. One of his other favourite sayings was ‘good dogs have made me rather than me making good dogs’.

So with his passing a chapter in our life comes to an end. Goodbye Percy, a big gap left by a big man.

Jean and John Hempenstall