Duc: The Toast of Blakeen

AKC Gazette “Times Past”-A popular subspecies of dog writing is the canine eulogy. Writers from Lord Byron to Stephen King have immortalized their once-in-a-lifetime dog in words. 

AKC Gazette breed columnists have written many such tributes, including this December 1940 Poodle column by Hayes Blake Hoyt, mistress of Blakeen Kennels. The subject was her famous import Ch. Nunsoe Duc de la Terrace of Blakeen. In my time at the Gazette I’ve read thousands of breed columns. I’d rank this one among the very best we’ve ever published. —Bud Boccone

On the evening of October 27, at Blakeen, a small gathering arose and drank a toast proposed by Sherman Hoyt: “To Duc, the greatest poodle that ever lived—who died last night.”

It was typical of Duc that his going should be greeted not by tears or heartbroken silence, but by a group of friends who have often gathered to drink a toast of Bon Voyage and Happy Landing to any beloved friend setting forth on some long journey.

And Duc, who has left for “the undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveler returns,” did so as calmly and as majestically as he stepped into the show rings of the world, as he first landed on these shores, and stepped into the hearts of Blakeen....

To those who knew him, he was a great being: a magnificent, vital, perfectly integrated personality. Nothing could mock him for he was too splendidly big; nothing could harm him because he was not only brave but confident and trustful; nothing could surpass him for he was beautiful, and everyone loved him for he was cheerful and kind.

There will be a record written of him as a show dog and a sire, but I think of him liking to play better than to eat. I think of his adopted kitten, I think of his kindness to children, and his long memory for friends. I remember his beauty and majesty which never varied, and I remember that when I knew nothing of handling a dog, Duc took me into the ring show after show, and showed! His confidence gave me confidence, and I have since been able to show most dogs. I remember he twice stopped traffic and drew immense crowds by just walking with me in the streets of New York City, and the surprise in his magnificent and merry eyes when I hastily got him into a cab.

He never knew he was great or unique or a showman, for he was unselfconscious and completely himself. He was as superb at home as in the show ring. He was always unbelievably vital and gay without loss of dignity.

When poodles were not popular, Duc won the hearts of the public. “He is magnificent—he’s got something—he loves to play—he’s superb—he’s so happy!” said the crowd, and it was always true. Through Duc a new love and understanding of the breed came to America, and this is one of the many debts we owe him. He has sired many champions, but his personality begot an undying enthusiasm for his race.

He was far beyond the ownership of any man or woman, for he reflected only himself, a noble and majestic personality. It was a privilege to know him, and a boon to lovers of the canine race that he was a dog.

Mrs. Sherman Hoyt, Secretary, Interstate Kennel Club, Katonah, N.Y.

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