With the passing of Constance Wilcox in her 105th year, the Smooth Fox Terrier world and West Country dogdom has lost a great lady, loved and respected by all her knew her. As well as being loyal and generous to others, we enjoyed many laughs with her.
When she learned I was to judge Parsons she called me a traitor and never let me forget it! When the Crufts coach turned on its side on Salisbury Plain we dragged the exhibitors out through broken windows. The doggy ladies were a problem for the medics. Mrs Tann would not go through the hospital doors if they would not let her black and tan in; Miss Nicolls escaped by climbing through the bathroom window as she had Cairns to show and Constance had to be held down and discharged herself in the morning as she had Smooths to show. She turned up on the platform at Reading station swathed in a head bandage that looked like a turban and in the carpet slippers she always wore on coaches. Other passengers either gave her a wide berth or stared at her and she gleefully told me that they thought she had escaped from a mental asylum.
After her marriage she and her husband went to the Sudan where he was a District Officer. Of course she had a Smooth with her, ignoring all the warnings about snakes and lions eating dogs. On one occasion, when she thought the houseboy was sampling whisky she decided on a cure. When she and her husband went on a visit of the territory she put a little castor oil in the whisky which annoyed her spouse when he found out. In those days friends visited and stayed even if the host was not at home.
I first met Constance on the island at Totnes where the local show was held. In those days we had good terrier entries and among the company were Monica Boggia-Black’s grandfather (known as the gent because of his smart turnout), Brenda Gough, Sam Gillard, my father and others.
Constance bought Solus Leuin Tatler which did well and later bred Landscove Butler which should have been a champion but for her terrible handling! In later years she bred Ch Landscove Pallisa and her last winner was the ill-fated Gavindale Pot of Honey which won a CC and died of rat poisoning. Besotted with the Smooth she was a fearless judge and served as President of the Smooth Fox Terrier. She was a Committee member of the Newton Abbot Society and a Founder Member of the Terrier Club of Devon and Cornwall, ending as its Patron.
Constance and Brenda were great buddies and once turned up at a local carnival dressed as ratcatchers in cords with twine around the ankles, cloth caps, old tweed jackets and a brace of Smooths on leads.
Part of the enjoyment on the Terrier day at Paignton show each year was the supper at Landscove with her terrier friends. Barbara Stapley, Nancy Mudge, Harold & Freda Blondon, Gwen Kempster and husband, Pauline Fox, Mags & Bernard Evans, Brenda Gough and a couple of American terrier breeders whose names escape me as I write and, of course, myself. The talk was all terriers.
Recently someone commented that they never remember Constance ever saying anything unkind about anybody which was very true. Her only comment on bad judging was a raised eyebrow which had us laughing.
For the last eight years of her life Bill Harris moved into Landscove to care for her and her dogs. He devoted his life to her and she thought of him as a son. She was saved from a soulless life in a residential home and among other things she had someone to talk with her about Smooths. It is a measure of her as a person that she engendered so much loyalty and love in Bill. I, like many will miss her greatly.
Now homes will have to be found for her dogs and I know Bill will appreciate help.
Ken Bounden n