18th June 1923 to 15th May 2009
It is with a very heavy heart that I have to report the passing of Mrs Janetta Parkyns of Seacourt Kennels on Friday 15th May, one month short of her 86th birthday. Janetta had been suffering with poor health for a number of months and she was admitted to the Stoke Mandeville hospital where she passed away a few days later. I last saw Janetta in March at a Greenland Dog Club committee meeting, for which she was an honorary vice president and which she never liked to miss, and I spoke with her a few days before she was admitted to hospital. Whilst those of us who spoke with her regularly knew she was not in the best of health, I never expected this to be the last time I would speak with her. The end was not really a surprise but is nonetheless still a real shock and so, so sad.
Janetta came from a dog breeding and exhibiting background. Since childhood, she was involved in her Father’s breeds which included Fox Terriers and Bedlington Terriers and her Mother’s breeds which included French Bulldogs and Pugs, giving her a good grounding in canine husbandry. Janetta made her first trip to Crufts with her own dogs in the 1940’s where she successfully exhibited both a Welsh Corgi dog and bitch. It was around this time that she was also exhibiting Smooth Dachshunds and Standard Schnauzers, of which she made up a Champion. Among the many breeds Janetta had an interest in, the Spitz breeds were a particular influence on her, including the Finnish Spitz and the Norwegian Buhund. An encounter with Janet Edmonds of Highnoons Kennels (now Jannat Al-Haddad) in the early 1960’s resulted in a friendship and subsequent partnership which lead Janetta into many decades of dedication to the Alaskan Malamute. Greenland Dogs however were a lifelong passion for Janetta and she acquired her first dog from Chester Zoo, her first bitch from Glasgow Zoo and another bitch from a Cornish Zoo; this was one of the only ways of obtaining the breed at that time, when dogs were returned from polar expeditions. Janetta worked with a local veterinary practice and also along with her late husband, ran a boarding kennel which in addition provided coat stripping and trimming services.
Nicola and I first met Janetta in 1999 when we were looking into acquiring our first Alaskan Malamute and whilst she did not have any available at the time, her advise and guidance then and for the following ten years was both gratefully received and invaluable. We also had the pleasure of meeting some of the most impressive Malamutes you could ever wish to see; anyone who visited Janetta in the 1990’s into the mid 2000’s will never forget ‘Monty’ (Seacourt Magic Wand), a mightily impressive dog who we are so pleased and proud lives on in our own Malamute line. It was on this first visit that we met two Greenland Dog kennel mates ‘Gus’ (Chance Encounter of Seacourt) and ‘Foxy’ (Seacourt Stormy Weather) who were incredibly striking and their personalities were so infectious. We were immediately hooked on the breed and were soon taking Janetta to shows with Nicola showing Gus up to when he was a veteran which was thoroughly enjoyable.
We soon had the pleasure of getting our first Greenland Dog, a Seacourt son of ‘Gus’, bred by Janetta together with Pat & Steve Phillips of Kelltara Kennels who enjoyed a very long, close friendship and partnership together. We have never looked back and owe it to Janetta to do our best to keep the breed going with the lines she has established here.
Speaking to a number of people these last few days who really knew Janetta, words such as strong willed and opinionated have been accompanied by witty, good company, extremely kind and generous. It is truly the end of an era and she will be hugely missed. Anyone that came across her will surely agree that there will never be another Janetta Parkyns.
Stuart Winterton(Hon. Secretary.)
I was greatly saddened to hear of the death of my friend Janetta Parkyns. She was a wonderful, enthusiastic, spirited, determined and lovely woman
Angela and I first got to know her in the early 70s when we lived quite close to her home in Steeple Clayton. She was a great supporter of the Nordic Show which we ran at that time and when I was writing my first book gave me a great deal of specific help on Alaskan Malamutes and Eskimo Dogs, as well a great deal of general information about the Spitz Group. Janetta surrounded herself with animals, mainly dogs (always including a few rescued dogs) but horses and cats too and she was always pleased to given conducted tours of the kennels and to introduce her menagerie. Dogs really were her life
By the time I got to know her, of course, Janetta had already been in dogs for many years: from the cradle in fact. Her father had Fox Terriers and Bedlingtons (I understand that Ken Bounden bought his first Bedlington from him) while her mother had French Bulldogs and Pugs as well as Corgis – and Janetta first attended Crufts in the 1940s with a Corgi. It may have been the Corgi’s head shape and pricked ears which drew Janetta to the Spitz Breeds and over the years she owned Norwegian Buhunds and Finnish Spitz although her great love was for the largest, heaviest of the Group – the Greenland/Eskimo Dogs and the Alaskan Malamutes. She was a tiny woman but her knowledge and experience of dogs was such that she never had any difficulties handling these very substantial ‘carthorses of the Arctic’
She got her first Greenland Dogs (known at the time as Eskimo Dogs) from the only place available at the time – the zoos, for that was where dogs which survived Arctic and Antarctic expeditions were placed if they survived the expedition and the journey back to the UK. In the early 1960s she obtained a Dog from Chester Zoo and least one bitch from Glasgow and bred regularly for almost forty years, latterly in partnership with Steve and Pat Phillips. She was fiercely protective of all her dogs but especially her Spitz breeds and scanned the pages of Exchange and Mart and other publications reporting her findings to responsible breeders if she found anomalies which she though should be investigated. When Angela was responsible for Finnish Spitz rescue she was often given the first alert about a problem from Janetta
All who knew her will miss her straight talk, her common sense, her extraordinary knowledge and her friendship for anyone and everyone who she felt genuinely loved dogs
I was shocked by Janetta’s death for it wasn’t so long ago I spoke to her. I know she had been ill but she always made light of it all and there were days when I thought she would live forever, so strong was her spirit.
She was a true dog lover and she had dogs all her life but especially loved Malamutes and Eskimo & Greenland dogs. I think she liked them particularly as they had ‘a bit of sparkle about them’. Apart from the pure breeds, she always seemed to have some cross breeds around and recently she had two racing greyhounds and a lurcher. There was always room for a dog or dogs that needed a home.
She loved the show ring but has not been able to go to shows very much recently. When she did she would love to sit at the ring side to chat and gossip with friends (and foes alike). Her dogs were always well behaved and well turned out when she did show
She was very particular to whom she sold her pups, especially the Malamutes as I think she felt that in the wrong hands they could be like loaded shotguns. I always found hers to have a wonderful temperament and when she was in hospital to have both her hips replaced, I helped look after many of them (over twenty as I remember) and all were absolutely delightful. My particular favourite was an exceptionally large dog called Monty and every time I went into his run he would back me up into his kennel, a game for him but being crushed was not the best thing for me. It was through Janetta that I developed an interest in the breed and to this day I long to own one myself
When a potential owner came to visit her so they could see the dogs, and more importantly Janetta could meet them, she would let her house Malamute Anna go and greet the people as they arrived; if they flinched (Anna was a huge girl), she knew they were probably not suitable for the breed
Janetta loved going to antique fairs and she used to buy and sell jewellery. I used to take her occasionally when I lived in Brackley a few miles from her kennels at Steeple Clayton. She missed that side of things as she was an excellent antique dealer with a good eye for a bargain. She particularly liked antique items made from butterfly wings which are frowned on these days.
She lived in India for some time when she was younger and loved a good curry although swore she couldn’t cook one herself. She was a ‘no nonsense’ person, what you saw is exactly what you got which seems to me to be rare these days. She had no children and always said she would not have minded if they had fur on them!
I found her one of the kindest and honest people I have ever me and with a great sense of humour too. I shall miss her: I have always thought of her as part of my extended family.