Adverts: 0161 709 4576 - Editorial: 0161 709 4571
Mail Order: 0161 709 4578 - Subs: 0161 709 4575 - Webteam: 0161 709 4567
Harry Baxter - Tributes

Harry Baxter in typical pose

Bill Moores writes:- the death of Harry Baxter has robbed OUR DOGS and the world of dogs of a quiet and unassuming literary giant whose encyclopaedic knowledge was freely given and used to educate others and usually present the alternative view.

His Matters Arising contributions were always thought provoking and invariably hit the nail on the head. His was a narrative style that was born of a wealth of experience in both life and in dogs that combined to illustrate his point.

I first met Harry in the late 1970s when he met the then Editor Richard Marples at the OUR DOGS office to discuss the future of the otterhound in view of the voluntary suspension of otter hunting. When the club was formed Richard Marples became a vice president for many years in view of the part played by OUR DOGS and in other ways to ‘save’ the breed and bring it to K C recognition, acceptance and registration.

Having been ‘in the chair’ at OUR DOGS for only one year in 1988, I was invited to attend the Otterhound Club’s first championship show at Baginton Village Hall, near Coventry. It was a modest affair but one that bore Harry’s stamp with distinguished guests such as John Bell-Irving of the famous Dumfriesshire pack family and the formidable Mary Roslin-Williams whose late husband James also had a close association with the breed from the days of the Lilymere estate, near Sedbergh. The salad lunch was the most entertaining and enlightening affair of what was a dreary, wet summer’s day!

His contribution to the Eurodogs section of the paper was a major factor in its continuing success. When abroad he was always courteous and helpful to others to such an extent that some took advantage of his kind nature. After the fall of communism over ten years ago, his trips to Russia were recorded in these pages and his many contacts were used to open up and bring the ‘western’ world of pedigree dogs to those who had spent years in austerity but who were, nevertheless, hungry for knowledge and information. It was obvious that he was held in high esteem by those who met him overseas.

It was with sadness that I last spoke face to face with him at the ringside at the Paris International show last November and that for the first time I saw, first hand, the early stages of speech and recall problems that beset him in the last months of his life. Remarkably, he still managed to send in a contribution for publication in January but sadly its follow up was never to be. despite obvious difficulties he continued to support the breed note columns for both Otterhounds and Shih Tzus. He even attended the Otterhound Hound Club AGM in April.

I spoke to him in the last weeks of his life on several occasions, sometimes in the evenings when after a day’s sleep he felt better, and he never lost his wry sense of humour. One day he said, ‘ . . . let me be honest with you, I never felt worse . . !’ ‘ You have always been honest to me, Harry,’ I replied. ‘Yes I know,’ he said, ‘ . . . and rude, too,’ was his reply!

The Harry Baxter I knew was a very modest, kind, caring, intelligent and humorous man, who didn't suffer fools gladly.

Although I only met him in 1997 when I acquired my first Otterhound, I was lucky enough to get to know him well. We all know he spoke his mind, which didn't suit all people, but it was a quality I appreciated.

We both had a love of Africa and finally, when visiting him in hospital in February I managed to get him to tell me about his life running a Mission Station in Tanzania. We laughed a great deal about his exploits. When I asked why he hadn't written a book about these years, his reply was so typical, "Who would want to read about my life?" Yet I am sure it would have been a best seller.

And after a Dogue du Bordeaux seminar, last year, he came to sit next to me and asked how it had gone! I am no expert on any breed and never will be! These are just two examples of his modesty

His extensive knowledge of hounds and dogs always astounded me. I am sure there are very few people left, if any, who can equal it.

When criticised by people Harry would rarely rise to the bait and retaliate, nor would he give people the satisfaction of letting them know how much they had hurt him.

Many thought Harry to be as tough as old boots, but they just didn't know him at all.

When I visited him the day after he had been given the bad news, he even managed to laugh as he smoked his Woodbine, saying if he'd been an American he would have sued the Navy for issuing free cigarettes to all and thus starting his addiction to the weed.

Although in great pain he travelled to Warwickshire mid-April for the Otterhound Club Open Show and A.G.M. The Otterhounds and all of us in the breed will be forever in his debt.

His death is a great loss to the world of dogs and especially to all of us who were lucky enough to have called him a friend.

Helen De Gregorio

IT WAS with great sadness that I learned of the death of Harry Baxter on April 29.

There will be many tributes to this highly regarded man, and I would like to add mine. I first made Harry’s acquaintance over 20 years ago, when he was Secretary of the Otterhound Club and we had obtained our first Otterhound.

Harry was both Secretary and Treasurer of the Otterhound Club and editor of the Club newsletter for may years, eventually resigning from these positions in the early ‘90s.

In 1982 we held a seminar and social event at our home in Hampshire, and were surprised and delighted when Harry and Poul made the long journey from Lancashire on a dreary, wet, November day. Harry’s presence really added to the occasion.

When I became Secretary in 1997, Harry was also re-elected onto the committee in the same year. During my time as Secretary, Harry was a constant source of support and knowledge. When the Club decided to appoint a Chairman last year, Harry was elected to this position.

At times Harry could be very forceful in his opinions, but to me he was always the perfect gentleman. Even when unpleasant things were said about him - which he found deeply hurtful -Harry always retained a dignified position.

Harry’s deep knowledge of many breeds was astounding, and he was highly respected, both in this country and abroad.

Last year we held another social and tracking weekend, which Harry and Poul attended.

Harry spent most of the Saturday sharing his handling expertise with the owners who attended, and on the Sunday followed the hounds taking part in the tracking for several hours, putting many of the younger participants to shame. We shared a meal in the evening and had a wonderful time putting the world to rights.

Although seriously ill by the beginning of April, and having had to miss Crufts for the first time that I can remember, Harry was determined to attend the Otterhound Club open show and AGM, to make his feelings known on issues which could affect the breed in the future.

For all of his friends, this was a day of mixed emotions. We were so pleased to see Harry, but knew that for many of us it would be the last time that we would spend with him.

I will miss Harry immensely, for his knowledge, fairness and humour, but most of all for his friendship to our family. I know that all of Harry’s friends in the Otterhound world will feel the same. It is the end of an era.

We send our deepest sympathies to Poul.

Amanda Ausell,
Secretary Otterhound Club

IT IS with great sadness that I have to write on the passing of Mr Harry Baxter. It was known that he had been unwell for some time.

Harry had a long standing interest
in our breed from the start, being
a long term member of the club,
and also giving generously of his
time to serve on the committee.
A well known judge both home
and abroad, he will be sorely missed,
as will his knowledgeable reports in the dog press.
We extend our condolences to Poul, Harry’s partner.

Mrs J Laing,
Secretary Bouvier des Flandres Club of gb

BEING HARRY’S ‘opposite number’, in a manner of speaking, being breed correspondent for Dog World, I have tried to write a short tribute for that publication.

When it was finished, I thought how pitifully inadequate it was and I am glad to have another opportunity to express some thoughts.

While we know that he had an interest in, and vast knowledge of other breeds, particularly rare breeds both here and overseas, it is through Otterhounds that most of us knew him best. A founder member of the Otterhound Club, he steered us through our early days as a rare breed, was one of the first committee members, became secretary, treasurer, newsletter editor and, more recently, chairman. His knowledge of the history of the breed and of the breeds whose blood was incorporated to make the Otterhound of today, was invaluable.

But, to me, one of the most important facets of the man was his ability with the pen.

Fortunately for us, he has left a legacy of erudite articles for posterity. Whenever I tried to research a bit of background breeding or history, sure enough, he had written an article to cover it and would send it to me. Except for these articles, we have lost a fount of knowledge in the death of Harry.

He is not a man who will ever be forgotten by those who were fortunate enough to know him or to call him a friend. And some of us will never forget the phone calls we received from him when, on learning that he did not have long to live, he wanted to say proper ‘goodbyes’.

I feel very privileged to have been among that number.

Jean Pretious
Boravin Otterhounds