When Wendy Hines’ beloved husband Ken asked me to write her obituary, I was daunted and deeply honoured but felt certain someone more current in the show world could do a better job and talk of her phenomenal successes in the ring, but then Wendy was, of course, so much more than a list of wins.
Wendy had just returned from judging Bearded Collies and Affenpinschers in Moscow and thought her tiredness was probably jetlag. Sadly, it wasn’t. She died in hospital only days after being admitted. Her suffering was mercifully short, the cancer was very advanced when it was spotted. She had so much to live for and so much yet to do.
Like myself, Wendy got her first Beardie as a reward for passing an exam at 11. In 1969 she got Jandell Jeremiah. Back then Beardies were pretty new to the show scene, an ancient treasure that was just being rediscovered.
Wendy was obviously very bright; I first became aware of her when we were both showing every weekend and she was living in London and working at the BBC – to my young eyes she was impossibly glamorous and progressive. A real role model who had it all.
She had trained as a journalist and then did a masters which she passed with distinction which sparked her interest in genetics and health.
Wendy started building her Ramsgrove line and she was incredibly good at picking the right dogs from the right lines and could recite 10 generations of pedigrees without faltering. She had an eye for a dog and her understanding of anatomy was spectacular.
She was not a showy person, the bit in the ring didn’t seem to be the bit that set her pulse racing. But her dogs were amazing. Just quality that didn’t need clever handling.
Ch Gillaber Drummond was hugely significant as a sire, as was his son Ch Diotima Sea Wolf at Ramsgrove and his sons Ch Ramsgrove Rumba and Ch Ramsgrove Borkason.
Like me she had fallen into an already existing framework of the dog show world and was slowly becoming aware of a storm brewing. That bottlenecks and closed gene pools meant that inevitably there was going to be trouble ahead. But how you deal with the bumps in the road is much more significant than what car you drive. Wendy was my definition of a really progressive brave ethical breeder.
I reconnected with Wendy when one of her Beardies was heavily pregnant and was missing. I shared the appeals on social media, and I held my breath hoping for good news.
Chatta was found just in time and as I looked at the photos of the pups, I spotted one with an unusual broken band, exactly like the one my first Beardie had!
It was fate and I was ready for another Beardie after the last in my line had died of old age. When I looked back in our new pup’s pedigree there was Ch Edenborough Sweet Lady – my first Beardie when I was 11. It was obviously meant to be.
Fast forward eight years and Oscar after a wonderful life as a very glamorous pet was diagnosed with Addison’s disease. A whole raft of autoimmune diseases was emerging in the breed and no line was free. Oscar’s temperament meant he was a dream at the vets and life continued with great quality.
Wendy was as devastated as I was about the health problems, but we both agreed you had to find a way to put this breed back together. It was no one’s fault, no one knew at the time about effective population sizes or popular sire syndrome in the decades the bottleneck happened, and the gene erosion must have occurred.
Wendy wrote a brilliant book about the breed in 2014. Beardies Past, Present and Future and the final chapter deals with her vision for the future and I urge everyone who loves their breed to read this and try to carry on her very noble mission.
She so desperately wanted to stop the Bearded Collie becoming an endangered species. I know that Ken would welcome everyone in the breed pulling together at this sad time and carrying on Wendy’s legacy in trying to ensure that the Bearded Collie stays around for future generations to pass on the unconditional love this breed gives to us humans.
I hope the Ramsgroves are giving Ken and Wendy’s sons Aidan and Alex some of that comfort at this incredibly difficult time.
I will never ever forget Wendy and I am sure that the breed clubs will honour her in the future as a messenger who bravely pointed them in the direction of hope.
She loved this breed so much, she wanted to make it better. Wendy was also really kind. She was, I think, part Beardie – which is the greatest compliment you can pay anyone.
Leslie Samuels Healy
This wonderful lady will be greatly missed both as a friend, and a great breeder and friend to the Bearded Collies. I send love and condolences from to Ken and her sons from Pepperland, Texas