Chris Walkowicz: Legendary Dog Writer, Breeder and Judge Passes Away
“Why wouldn’t you sit in he first row?” said dog book writer, and Bearded Collie breeder Chris Walkowicz. “That way everyone in back of you can see the dog show.”
Chris was kidding me about my vertical impairment. She was a statuesque 6-feet tall, and I am about 5-feet and 7 inches (on a good day). The show she was talking about was the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. We together sat with legendary pet book writer, the late Mordecai Siegal for at least four or five years in the press area at Madison Square Garden.
Chris, who is a past President of the Dog Writers’ Association of America and also member of the DWAA Hall of Fame, passed away on Friday, September 13.
Chris began showing and breeding German Shepherd Dogs in 1965, adding Bearded Collies in 1977 and in Bearded Collies she found her niche. “Walkoway” Beardies and Shepherds finished their Championships, with about 75 performance titles. Chris and her husband, Ed, were the breeders of the only Ch/OTCh/UDX Beardie.
Chris was an award-winning author of many books, including The Perfect Match: A dog buyer’s guide; Choosing a Dog for DUMMIES; Successful Dog Breeding (with Dr. Bonnie Wilcox); Caring For Your Older Dog (with Dr. Bonnie Wilcox); The Atlas of Dog Breeds of America (with Dr. Bonnie Wilcox), and many others. I wrote a “blurb” for her book Choosing a Dog for DUMMIES (and perhaps another book or two – not sure).
I frequently quoted Chris in stories that I wrote. This piece was from my national newspaper column, and appeared in around 100 plus newspapers at the time including the South Florida Sun Sentinel. This piece is from 2004 from when I was a contributing editor at USA Weekend.
While Chris was a dog breeder, and and dog show judge – she understood issues like puppy mills. She was adamantly against purchasing dogs through pet stores, knowing they were not from responsible breeders. In fact two of her books focused on the topics of where to get dogs from and how to match the right breed with the appropriate lifestyle in your family. She loved educating others about dogs, and the depth of her knowledge could only be perhaps exceeded by her height.
Her sense of humor was generally apparent – unless you poked too much fun at her St. Louis Cardinals. And knowing I am a Cubs fan – our most heating discussions weren’t about dogs.
I regret that it had been several years since I’ve actually spoken with her. Sometimes life is like that. A few years ago she wrote me about her knee surgery and recovery. I blamed her height for the problem.
Then I received this message via Facebook about three years ago. “How I’ve missed you! Am so proud.” I treasure that.