I was greatly saddened to hear of the death of my friend Janetta Parkyns. She was a wonderful, enthusiastic, spirited, determined and lovely woman.
Angela and I first got to know her in the early 70s when we lived quite close to her home in Steeple Clayton. She was a great supporter of the Nordic Show which we ran at that time and when I was writing my first book gave me a great deal of specific help on Alaskan Malamutes and Eskimo Dogs, as well a great deal of general information about the Spitz Group. Janetta surrounded herself with animals, mainly dogs (always including a few rescued dogs) but horses and cats too and she was always pleased to given conducted tours of the kennels and to introduce her menagerie. Dogs really were her life.
By the time I got to know her, of course, Janetta had already been in dogs for many years: from the cradle in fact. Her father had Fox Terriers and Bedlingtons (I understand that Ken Bounden bought his first Bedlington from him) while her mother had French Bulldogs and Pugs as well as Corgis - and Janetta first attended Crufts in the 1940s with a Corgi. It may have been the Corgi's head shape and pricked ears which drew Janetta to the Spitz Breeds and over the years she owned Norwegian Buhunds and Finnish Spitz although her great love was for the largest, heaviest of the Group - the Greenland/Eskimo Dogs and the Alaskan Malamutes. She was a tiny woman but her knowledge and experience of dogs was such that she never had any difficulties handling these very substantial 'carthorses of the Arctic'.
She got her first Greenland Dogs (known at the time as Eskimo Dogs) from the only place available at the time - the zoos, for that was where dogs which survived Arctic and Antarctic expeditions were placed if they survived the expedition and the journey back to the UK. In the early 1960s she obtained a Dog from Chester Zoo and least one bitch from Glasgow and bred regularly for almost forty years, latterly in partnership with Steve and Pat Phillips. She was fiercely protective of all her dogs but especially her Spitz breeds and scanned the pages of Exchange and Mart and other publications reporting her findings to responsible breeders if she found anomalies which she though should be investigated. When Angela was responsible for Finnish Spitz rescue she was often given the first alert about a problem from Janetta .
All who knew her will miss her straight talk, her common sense, her extraordinary knowledge and her friendship for anyone and everyone who she felt genuinely loved dogs.
I was shocked by Janetta’s death for it wasn't so long ago I spoke to her. I know she had been ill but she always made light of it all and there were days when I thought she would live forever, so strong was her spirit.
She was a true dog lover and she had dogs all her life but especially loved Malamutes and Eskimo & Greenland dogs. I think she liked them particularly as they had 'a bit of sparkle about them'. Apart from the pure breeds, she always seemed to have some cross breeds around and recently she had two racing greyhounds and a lurcher. There was always room for a dog or dogs that needed a home.
She loved the show ring but has not been able to go to shows very much recently. When she did she would love to sit at the ring side to chat and gossip with friends (and foes alike). Her dogs were always well behaved and well turned out when she did show.
She was very particular to whom she sold her pups, especially the Malamutes as I think she felt that in the wrong hands they could be like loaded shotguns. I always found hers to have a wonderful temperament and when she was in hospital to have both her hips replaced, I helped look after many of them (over twenty as I remember) and all were absolutely delightful. My particular favourite was an exceptionally large dog called Monty and every time I went into his run he would back me up into his kennel, a game for him but being crushed was not the best thing for me. It was through Janetta that I developed an interest in the breed and to this day I long to own one myself.
When a potential owner came to visit her so they could see the dogs, and more importantly Janetta could meet them, she would let her house Malamute Anna go and greet the people as they arrived; if they flinched (Anna was a huge girl), she knew they were probably not suitable for the breed.
Janetta loved going to antique fairs and she used to buy and sell jewellery. I used to take her occasionally when I lived in Brackley a few miles from her kennels at Steeple Clayton. She missed that side of things as she was an excellent antique dealer with a good eye for a bargain. She particularly liked antique items made from butterfly wings which are frowned on these days.
She lived in India for some time when she was younger and loved a good curry although swore she couldn't cook one herself. She was a 'no nonsense' person, what you saw is exactly what you got which seems to me to be rare these days. She had no children and always said she would not have minded if they had fur on them!
I found her one of the kindest and honest people I have ever me and with a great sense of humour too. I shall miss her: I have always thought of her as part of my extended family.
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