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Obituary - Dr Arthur Sneeden (Opinan)


Arthur SneedenHaving known both Arthur and his late wife Margaret for many years, I am saddened by his passing at the age of 86. They were a wonderful couple; outwardly chalk and cheese but such fun to be with. Arthur, despite his quiet exterior, had just as wicked a sense of humour as Margaret.

There are many stories of their escapades on dog show caravan sites during the 70s and 80s when they went to almost every Championship show in the UK. A true gentleman always with a wealth of experience and knowledge of dogs and canine administration, he had true integrity and exceptionally sound judgement. He was especially uncompromising encouraging to newer and younger exhibitors - both Anne Roslin-Williams and myself, to name just two, in our early days had the benefit of his warmth and encouragement in Elkhounds. He will be very sadly missed.

Dr. Arthur Elvin Townsend Sneeden was a GP for all of his life; graduating from the University of Glasgow in 1944. He married Margaret, a nurse, and they had a wonderfully happy life together for well over fifty years - enjoying life to the full with their children Laurie, Margaret and Robin - for many years at Woodrow Road, Glasgow and then at Lenzie.

It was in the 1960s that Arthur and Margaret became involved in dogs and their “Opinan” affix was a force to be reckoned with in Norwegian Elkhounds (and more recently Border Terriers) over several decades. Their affix came from the village of Opinan situated on the coast between Ullapool and Gairloch near Greenstone Point in Ross-shire.

Their first CC winner was Opinan Olwyn (Ch Ravenstone Larsen x Tessa of Ailort) and their first champion was in Ch & Ir Ch Fourwents Sorena - a daughter of Ch Fourwents Gretal of Eskamere. Arthur went to Ireland to buy a puppy from Sorena (Opinan Falda) but returned with her dam as well!

During the 60s, 70s and 80s, it would be fair to say that their motto may have been “distance no object” and during these years Arthur would travel up and down the M6 many times a month! Their Elkhound kennel became more prominent in the 1970s and 80s. Opinan Anton (Ch Borellan Kaymaur Thor x Opinan Ravenstone Tara) won a CC during this time. Anton sired Ch Muirton Greylord, Muirton Ski and Muirton Lisa - dam of Norsegrey Konni (CC) who is in many of Vi & Brian Nicols’ Barlestone Champions.

In 1979 Ch & Ir Ch Boltown Boss of Opinan gained his crown under Liz Cartledge at Birmingham national. Breed by Virginia Cairnes he was from three quarters imported Norwegian bloodlines. Boss was mated to Opinan Falda who produced Ch & Ir Ch Opinan Dina ( a Puppy of the Year finalist in 1978) and to Opinan Cwmbran, producing Ch Opinan Edda. Another “Boss daughter” was the late Mrs Maclennans multiple CC winning Ch Barskimming Tia.

Arthur and Margaret made a number of trips to Scandinavia and in the 80s imported Guldfodasens Pajong of Opinan who has had a significant impact on the breed. As well as Tessa of Opinan (1CC)., he his influence , still today, is through Gill Bingham’s Ch Steldawn Northern Lights and Ch Steldawn Little Madam (both sired by Pajong) and Mrs Bingham’s multiple CC and Group winning Ch Steldawn Crackerjack was out of Little madam ex a son of Ch S.Northern Lights.

Pajong mated to Ch/Ir Ch Opinan Dina produced the influential sire, Opinan Milo who produced a long line of winners - Jerry Daly’s litter mates - the phenomenal winners in the 90s - Ch & Ir Ch Ennafort Pearl and Ch & Ir Ch Ennafort Pajong, litter brothers - Cyril Gilberts Ch Kensix Trojan and the Late Mrs Guy’s -Ch Kensix Zimba plus my Ch Ardenspoie Lass and Stephen Guy’s Ch Ardenspoie Ladd.

In the early 90s, Arthur imported Trollelgens Sigfred av Opinan who was the first post war import from Norway to gain his UK title. He sired Marion Foster and Bob Lee’s Crufts Group winner Ch Kestos Adheryn plus the litter brothers - my Ch Whittimere Tszar and Nev Simms’ Ch Whittimere Tempest.

For many years they also had Border Teriers and their first champion was Ir Ch Astra of Opinan - her chief line of descent being Opinan Baubo by Irton (owned by the Fryers) - dam of 2 champions and 2 ticket winners from which a long line of champions descend and a very influential brood bitch.

In canine administration, Arthur’s advice was often sought due to his careful judgement and diplomacy. He became a member of the Elkhound Association of Scotland Committee at the 1971 AGM, where the guest speaker was Ronnie Irving discussing “public relations”. In 1977, he was elected Chairman (taking over from the late Fred Anderson (Koriston)) through till 2005 where he was elected an honorary life member. During this period he was also part of the Elkhound Breed Council.

In 1974, he was a founder member of the Hound Association of Scotland (a Society he was rightly proud of) , its first chairman until he retired in 2003. He then remained on the committee for a further year and was elected Honorary President in 2005.

Arthur became convenor of SKC in 1991 a position he remained in until he stood down in April 2000 and was a member and chairman of the KCLC Regional Council during the 1990s.
Arthur was also a founder member of the Otterhound Club and had a number of roles in the Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of Scotland - most latterly as their President - as well as being a founder member of the Otterhound Club.

Arthur moved out of his home in Lenzie to a nursing home, at his own request, just a few weeks ago. The world of dogs will miss Arthur’s honesty, level headedness and unbiased approach to all matters. Our thoughts are with his children and grandchildren at this time, and I trust they may be comforted in the knowledge that he was well respected by everyone and will be part of our canine history.

The funeral is at 10.30am today (Friday 1st February) at Clydebank Crematorium, Glasgow.
Robert I Greaves n
Chairman, Norwegian Elkhound Club of GB

It was with great sadness that I learned of the death of Dr Arthur Sneeden on 28th January. It must be almost 40 years since I first met Arthur and was immediately impressed by his tremendous enthusiasm for his dog showing hobby. Ably supported by his wife Margaret, he became a successful exhibitor, breeder and judge of his beloved Norwegian Elkhounds and Border Terriers. His interest extended thereafter to other hound breeds and he was approved to judge the Hound Group at Ch. level.

Arthur became a life member of the Scottish Kennel Club in 1972 and some years later was elected to the Executive Committee. Following years of service on the various SKC committees, he became aTrustee of the Club and went on to succeed Peter Mann as Convener in 1991, a position he held for almost 10 years. On his retirement as Convener, he was elected a Vice-President in recognition of his long service to the Scottish Kennel Club.

Arthur was one of nature's gentlemen and had an excellent rapport with all who knew him. He will long be remembered for his pleasant personality and for his unstinting service to the SKC over the years as indeed he will be remembered by those who sat with him on the many other committees on which he served.

Arthur bore his illness with great fortitude and always with a smile, which was evident to my husband Gus, when he visited him recently. The world of dogs will greatly miss Arthur and the deepest sympathies of all those at SKC go to his family and friends at this sad time.

Anne Macdonald
Convener, Scottish Kennel Club