Obituary - Mrs Lilian Snook (Laparata)
We've lost some legendary figures from the sport of dogs in the last few years, and each time one of them passes, it drives home the reality that we've come to the end of an era. That is certainly the case with Lilian Snook (Laparata Pekingese) who has died at 90 years of age. She lived in Brighton and owned her first Pekingese when she was two, which not only began a lifelong dedication to the breed but led her to become one of the most significant breeders of Pekingese of all time.
She made a far-reaching contribution to her breed and to her club, Pekin Palace Dog Association (PPDA), one of the oldest Pekingese clubs in the UK where she was secretary for over a quarter of a century. Among her many achievements, she faithfully and single-handedly published the club's yearbook for many years, which contained adverts from exhibitors from all over the world.
Most everyone in the Pekingese breed community world-wide will remember Lilian in their own way. She had a distinctive appearance and demeanor, conducted herself with dignity and spoke "the Queen's English" and, above all, spoke her mind without concern for how it was taken. With Lilian, you were going to get the truth whether you could take it or not.
For many Peke breeders in North America and in other parts of the world, Lilian Snook was an icon. She bred and exported many notable dogs, her most famous being Ch. Laparata Dragon who was sold at seven months of age to Nigel Aubrey-Jones. Nigel took Dragon to Canada where he became a prolific stud dog before being sold to Edward B. Jenner (Knolland Farm) in the USA. With Jenner, Dragon became an overnight success and had an explosive show career, winning numerous all breed Best in Shows. More importantly, Dragon left his legacy as a prepotent stud dog and became the all time Top Sire of the breed with over 100 champions.
Two of the most famous "Dragon" offspring were the 8 pound bitch, Ch. St. Aubrey Dragonora of Elsdon, who won Best in Show at Westminster, and her half brother by Dragon, Ch. St. Aubrey Bees Wing of Elsdon, who was Top Toy in America in 1985, owned by Mr. Jenner. There were a score of others sired by Dragon, and he stamped his look everywhere. It was a phenomenon on such a broad scale as had never before been seen in the breed in the US.
Virtually every major Peke kennel in North America and the UK has been impacted by Laparata breeding in some way, and Dragon's influence is still clearly seen, particularly in North America.
Ultimately, the Dragon breeding made its way back to the UK in the 1990s and influenced the breed all over again through a linebred "Dragon" Canadian import, Int. Ch. Rodari Orient Express, and his son, Ch. Tenling Golden Arrow of Pekehuis. Golden Arrow was not only Top Sire in the UK for 3 years running, but sired the 2003 Crufts Best in Show winner, Ch. Yakee Dangerous Liaisons, who was also Top Dog All Breeds.
Lilian had some major stud dogs in Britain as well, such as Ch. Laparata Celestial Star (Dragon's father) and Ch. Laparata Regal Star (by Terry Nethercott's famed Top Sire, Eng. Ch. Jay Trump of Sunsalve). Laparata also had a major influence on the breed through Ch. Nowai Harvey Moon, winner of 26 CCs, whose dam was Laparata Regal Love at Nowai.
In the 1960s Lilian lived in Corsica, the French Province in the Mediterranean, where her late husband Bill was the British Consul. Bill received the MBE from H R.H Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, but unfortunately, Lilian didn't attend the ceremony. She remained in Corsica because she didn't want to leave the dog behind ... her 4-pound ‘sleeve’ Pekingese named ‘Pigeon.’ She and Bill returned to England in 1964 with her son, Roger, who survives her.
Lilian judged Pekingese at Crufts in 1999, and won the Breed at Crufts herself in the late 70s with her bitch, Ch. Laparata Precious Madame. Lilian's biggest accomplishment, however, was that her breeding created some dogs that bred true for ideal construction in the shoulders, front assembly, well angulated rear, flat back and high tailset. This included dogs that moved with an easy stride and the required breed specific roll.
Lilian had an indomitable spirit and never let criticism or jealousy aimed at her dampen her resolve. After all, she lived in London during the devastating bombings of WW II, and her indomitability mirrored the prevailing attitude of the British. She recalled those days, saying, ‘The bombs fell all around you, and you just said 'OK, it wasn't me,' you pushed away the debris and kept on going’ Such true grit served her well through nine decades of dedication to her breed where she never allowed herself to be distracted from her primary goal, as she would say: "Get the basic dog right."
Gone, but never to be forgotten, Lilian Snook did an incredible job as a breeder and left a lasting legacy in so many ways that continues to benefit many all over the world.