174 – 65-Year Love Affair Started with a Brittany | Pure Dog Talk

Loraine Boutwell

65-Year Love Affair Started with a Brittany


Victor Boutwell with his Field Trial Dog in the Early ’50s

When Loraine Boutwell and her husband, Victor, acquired their first Brittany in 1953 they paid $35. The puppy traveled by train from Oklahoma to Topeka, Kansas in what Loraine describes as something like a wooden orange crate

Victor Boutwell, who passed away in 2003, owned a Brittany as his hunting dog when the couple began dating. Eventually they attended field trials and Loraine says she loved watching the dogs work. She fell in love with one of the field trial champions and decided they needed one of his puppies. According to Loraine, Victor said it was her idea, so she had to pay for it!


Beautiful Field Trial Brittany Goes to the Dog Show

The Boutwells were smitten with their new puppy and decided she was so beautiful they had to take her to a dog show. Thus


Victor Boutwell finishing their first show dog, Susie, at the Heart of America Kennel Club show in Kansas City, MO. 2/55

began their long history with the Heart of America Kennel Club and love affair with dog shows.

From breeding a champion in every group to handling all-breeds, from active all-breed club involvement to judging six groups, Loraine has been long involved in every aspect of the sport.

She said sound, correct movement remains her top priority in any of the breeds she judges.

“… when a dog comes in, I don’t want to see them stacked first,” Boutwell said. “… I’d rather see them moving. And I have them come in one at a time. And I spend quite a bit of time, I usually watch them go almost all the way around… And then I think this is a quality class or I’m going to have to work at this. I have a clue from just going around what kind of quality I have. And then I’ll think, well I have about five dogs there that are just wonderful. And one I’m going to have to move several times because the owner is new. And we can spot it right away. Because you want to evaluate that dog, even though the person may be not a wonderful handler, but you want to be able to evaluate that dog as best you can.”


Loraine Boutwell handling a Collie in the late ’60s

Boutwell still retains the love for performance work that was sparked in a young woman’s heart so many years ago.

“I just love to see the dogs work doing what they were bred to do. That, to me, is icing on the cake if they can do that,” Boutwell said. “If they win their championship that’s perfect but they’ve got to be able to do what they were bred to do.”

Loraine and Victor Boutwell celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary the year before Victor passed away. Purebred dogs were their lives, Loraine said.

First Assignment

Loraine Boutwell: “My first judging assignment 3/23/80. Heart of America where we had shown our first dog in 1954. Pictured with Vic, Bee and Mel Schlesinger (Melbee’s Kennels) our dear friends and mentors. Bee and Mel were the founders of the Heart of America Kennel Club with Mel serving as President until his death. They also were breeders of Melbee’s Chances Are and many other wonderful Kerry Blue Terriers. “

I’ve been judging for 38 years,” Boutwell said. “And they’ve been wonderful and if I had had any idea that I would still be judging now, at my age I would say ‘oh no no. Couldn’t do it.’ Well I am. And I’m loving it. I had to cut back, but I still want to do it. I still want to be able to judge.”

I hope you enjoy this delightful conversation with one of our sport’s most enduring and charming participants. I know I did!






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