Obituary – Eileen Vincent (Tarnhows)

I was sorry to hear of the recent passing of Eileen Vincent of the Tarnhows Schipperkes at the great age of 101 years.

When we first started showing our Schipps in the 80’s Eileen was one of several strong women involved with the breed, Anne Chadwick (Hallbower), Doreen Posnett (Dreda), Dorothy Seaton (Seacross) to name a few, all doyens in the true sense of the word. You waited for them to approach you to speak to them and never ever addressed them by their first names until invited.
They had all contributed to the breed and were strong in their opinions and ideas. Eileen was definitely the doyen of the creams. She had campaigned blacks in her early days but once she became aware of the colours through a chance encounter she was smitten.

From the origins of the breed in the UK there had been coloured dogs produced and several efforts to have them banned from showing to keep the breed only black. Breeders who produced occasional creams usually pet homed them unregistered and didn’t admit to having colour in their lines. Eileen wanted the colour to be acknowledged alongside the blacks and with her strong, indomitable attitude set out to breed a quality animal who could compete on equal terms despite the colour.

When she bred the cream, Tarnhows Little Captain, she realised he had potential and set out to campaign him. When he was sitting on two tickets there was yet another move to have the colour disqualified. Eileen set out to enter every show possible, travelling by train, sometimes with her mother and sometimes alone. She was certain that once there was a cream Champion the KC would not disqualify the naturally occurring colour. She was correct. Captain gained his title and the KC refused the move to ban the colour. She had other champions, both black and colours, but none as influential as him. She had a limited breeding programme with some breeders refusing to let her use their stud dogs because of her support for colour.

She judged at CC level and had her last appointment in 1997 at LKA. We won a few classes but no top awards. She rang me afterwards and said she liked what we were showing and would we be prepared to take on her dogs as she had decided she could not continue her breeding programme or keep any dogs. She was getting older and living alone so felt she had no backup if anything happened to her. We were happy to do so and through that got to know her a lot better. Her affix, Tarnhows, was from a place in the Lake District that she had visited with her parents so when she came to stay with us in Cumbria we were able to take her back there to visit. Although she had no dogs she kept a strong interest in the breed and as well as having an encyclopaedic memory for dogs she had seen in the past and their pedigrees she loved to discuss dogs currently being shown. When we brought Sundance Kid (cream) in from the USA she took a strong interest in him and his progeny so much so that in her late 80’s she went to visit his breeder, Don Neilson (Midwatch) in the US and took in their National Speciality before travelling to visit relatives in Canada. She had a great time but I’m not sure the Americans appreciated Eileen’s forthright comments on their dogs.

She lived at home alone with minimal help until very recently. We last spoke to her at Christmas when she was obviously frailer but still as strong and opinionated as ever. Her legacy will always be her support and campaigning of the coloured Schipps. Without her it’s possible the creams would no longer exist within the breed. You asked for her opinions at your peril because that’s what you got, no holding back, she saw no benefit in sugar coating anything, and she remained that strong forceful woman until the end.
I believe the majority of her family were in Canada and we send them our thoughts at this time.
Janet Holland (Schojan)

Contact Schipperke Club Secretary:
Melanie Reed-Peck (Byquy), 26 Malvern Close, Newmarket CB8 8BP
Tel: 01638 668664

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