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Obituary - Angus Macdonald

Angus MacdonaldWe were all shocked and saddened to learn of the loss of Gus Macdonald who died suddenly at his home in Glasgow on 29th January, not long after celebrating his 69th birthday. Gus was a loyal and enthusiastic Life Member of Scottish kennel Club and with his passing SKC together with the world of dogs in Scotland and further afield has lost one of its valued and stalwart personalities.

As a child, Gus’ family always had a Staffordshire Bull Terrier so that when he flew the nest and set up home in the late ’60s, this was the first breed he chose. Soon after he was attracted to the charms and outlook of the Bull Terrier and became a protégé of Raymond Oppenheimer, often visiting White Waltham. Indeed it was always Ormandy-Souperlative stock that Gus acquired and which he exhibited enthusiastically. However, it was at the Paisley Open Show in 1967 that Gus’ eye was taken by the Afghan hound and decided he would like to own and show this breed. He had to wait for a puppy but the wait was well worth it for he acquired the lovely bitch who was to become Ch. Top Peg of Daville, which he made up in 1973 at a time when the breed had much strength in quality and numbers. One of his most treasured possessions was a head study of “Peggy” by the artist Diana Merchant-Giles.

Gus had an ordered mind and a flair for administration suitable for dog show management and with his involvement with Dumfries Dog Show Society he became its Championship Show manager in the years 1972-1973. It was therefore appropriate that he was to become a member of SKC Executive Council from 1975-1982 where his talents in this field proved invaluable to the club for its May and August shows. However, when one thinks of Gus, the Hound Association of Scotland most readily springs to mind. He was a founder member and original committee member when the club was set up in 1974 and after Stan Thompson, the first Secretary, moved down south Gus was elected Secretary in 1977, a position he held until he stepped down in 2003. The part Gus played in this club’s success (it holds its 23rd Championship Show in April) cannot be emphasized enough. He was a hands-on Secretary who set high standards and which he expected, and received, from those he worked with in the Club.

As a judge Gus was forthright and popular as evidenced by the high entries he would draw. He awarded Challenge Certificates in six of the hound breeds together with the Hound Group. He judged Afghans at Crufts with his wife Anne and was looking forward to judging Salukis at Crufts in 2010 which he determined was to be his last Championship Show appointment.

Gus’ life and achievements were not confined to dogs for he was a rounded man. Born in Glasgow he was educated at Bellahouston Academy becoming Head Boy and Captain of Sports in his final year. He was an accomplished rugby player both when at school, where he captained the school first 15 playing stand-off, and for a period after he left school. He maintained his interest in the game all his life. He also could put in a very respectable round of golf.

By profession Gus was a Chartered Surveyor and upon leaving school he joined the practice Muirhead, Muir & Webster in Glasow, qualifying ARICS and was subsequently elected a Fellow of the Institute. From this practice he moved to Glasgow City Council, becoming its Chief Quantity Surveyor, taking early retirement in 1998 to be able to support his wife Anne and her activities in Salukis and of whose impressive achievements in the breed he was quietly but very proud.
Gus was an avid reader, specialising in the history of the second world war. He was a keen photographer possessing a selection of lovely cameras and appreciated classical music. The piano repertoire was his favorite, especially Chopin. In addition Gus was an active bird watcher and I can well remember a HAS committee meeting at his home when things had to come to a (temporary) halt as he had spotted a Sparrowhawk in the garden!

I admired Gus for his straightforward, straight-talking approach. There was no side to him. He was a hard worker who paid much attention to detail and as an added bonus he had a well-developed sense of humour.

On behalf of Scottish Kennel Club our thoughts and sympathy are extended to his wife Anne and daughters Claire and Anna Louise and grandchildren at this difficult time.

The funeral was held on Thursday 7th February at Clydebank Crematorium, North Dalnotter.

Colin S Y Gillanders n

The words “I’ve got plans for you” still echo in my ears. They will be my lasting memory of Gus Macdonald, a man who had the respect of all he met and the admiration of many. His sudden death sent shockwaves of disbelief throughout the world of dogs and brought further tragedy coming so soon after the death of his long term friend Dr Arthur Sneeden. My heartfelt sympathies are extended to his wife Anne and his daughters, Claire and Anna.

Gus was a founder member of the Hound Association of Scotland and was elected as a member of the first serving committee at its inaugural Annual General Meeting on 5th May 1974. He became Secretary at the AGM on 30th March 1977, a post he held until his retirement in May 2003 after almost 30 years. Gus continued to serve on the committee until his retirement in June 2007, all told 34 years hard work and dedication. Throughout his time with the Association and running almost 70 shows, he never once asked anyone to do anything that he couldn’t do or hadn’t done himself.

Never one to back away from a challenge, when the Championship Show had to be moved from Ingliston to Kelso at very short notice, Gus stood up to the mark. His sheer drive and determination together with a meticulous attention to detail turned what could have been a disaster into a well deserved success and justifiably earned him praise from many. Similarly later the same year, when the Open Show also had to be moved to an alternative venue, everything clicked neatly into place, all due again to Gus’s precision planning.

In dogs his first love was Afghans and later, with his wife Anne, Salukis. So it may come as a surprise to some to learn that Gus also had an interest in Bull Terriers, indeed recently I’ve been told some tales of one particular one called Wullie – somehow Gus and Bull Terriers feel like a natural fit.

His early involvement in Bull Terriers led to him being elected a member of The Kennel Club way back in 1975. I understand that he was one of the youngest members at that time and, true to form, he has remained involved since.

Outwith dogs, he had a variety of interests. Apart from being an avid reader, these interests included rugby, golf and a rather unusual one in that he was a collector of antique optical instruments.

To many Gus appeared rather austere with his slightly Churchillian appearance particularly when judging, this really was to underestimate the man. Highly intelligent and extremely well read, he had the ability to converse on many subjects at all levels making him an excellent raconteur. This coupled with an extremely quick wit made him incredibly good company. Indeed, at the recent Pedigree Stakes’ Finals he proved this when he claimed to be one of the best dancers on the floor.

Gus was a man of warmth, friendship and loyalty, at times forthright, always reliable and free with his advice when asked. The memories treasured by many that have been shared with me recently bring this out time and time again. This is echoed by the number of people who just can’t believe he is gone.

I am extremely honoured to have known Gus, and his departure leaves a void that will be impossible to fill. Anne and his extended family can take comfort from the fondness and high regard felt by many for him.

Drew Littlejohn n
Secretary, Hound Association of Scotland

The funeral will take place at Clydebank Crematorium, North Dalnottar on Thursday 7th February 2008 at 2p.m. Family flowers only with donations to the British Heart Foundation.