Vader – owned and loved by Gladys and Leland Wehland
September 7, 1993 ~ October 28, 2005
Ch. Logres’ Lord Vader
I received the following email on October 28, 2005 from Vader’s owners:
Vader passed peacefully at about 5:30 p.m. today. We will miss him. Thank you for letting us have him for these past 12 years.
What follows is a breeder’s tribute to Vader and Gladys and Leland Wehland, the two wonderful people who loved him.
I was sitting here thinking about Vader, remembering back 12 years to when he was born. Vader was always special… the puppy who caught your eye… a standout… not so much for his conformation, but rather, because of something that went much deeper. Vader always had a strong sense of who he was and where he fit in. One could say he had a sense of what was “right.” Vader was a dog of conviction, a life-force to be reckoned with from the moment he first drew breath. Emphatically, one could not push or force Vader! It didn’t matter who you were, man or beast, you simply weren’t strong enough to overcome Vader’s iron will. His loved ones could “ask” Vader politely and he would likely acquiesce, but one could not force him.
Here is what Leland saw in Vader as a young pup, quoting from Leland:
I thought I should tell you what made me decide on Vader when you showed me the two puppies. You set the two down and as I’m standing there one is playing around with the grass while the other comes over and attacks my shoe lace. I turned him around and he immediately turned around and went after my shoe lace. I step a couple of steps away and he came after my shoe lace. I picked him up and set him on the other side of his brother, I thought he would turn around and run into his brother and play. He turned around, ran right over the top of his brother and went for my shoe lace. I decided that any dog that could focus so completely at that age was the one I wanted. I knew I could work with the focus… Vader could always focus.
While these characteristics can be endearing, these traits can spell disaster if not properly channeled. All dogs need guidance and structure, but for a dog like Vader, it is imperative. At maturity a Giant Schnauzer is quite formidable; they must have a clear sense of the rules. A dog with Vader’s innate characteristics can be a disaster if his owners lack knowledge and commitment to shape these attributes in a positive way. From the very beginning Gladys and Leland knew and understood who Vader was… they made a commitment to him on the day they purchased him and for 12 wonderful years they were true to their word.
Within a week they had Vader walking politely on a lead, sitting on command and able to play “catch.” He grew up knowing that life was about rules and structure, as well as love. I recall a warm sunny day when Vader was about 7 or 8 months old, I was taking care of Vader while Gladys and Leland were away. He and I were sitting out in my apple orchard together, just the two of us, enjoying the sunshine and the moment. I remember how impressed I was with Vader… impressed with the gentleman he was maturing to be.
Still, Vader did have his idiosyncrasies… for example, he loved his squeaky toys. Quoting again from Leland:
I would take him to Pet Co. after he had his bath and trim to pick out a toy. I’d take him to the toy row and he would pace up and down the row looking at everything. He would do it three, even four times and suddenly he would just reach out and grab what he wanted. I’d let him carry up the checkout stand and he would let the checker take it, ring it up and then RETURN it to him. He would get upset if they tried to hand it to me! It was one of the few times he would bark.
I recall Vader once gave me a bloody nose… in the show ring… at Brush Prairie… over a squeaky toy. I had no business (or intention) of handling Vader that day (and would not have won with him), but his handler for that show (Andy Linton) was busy in another ring when the class was called, so, very reluctantly, I took Vader in the ring. Vader didn’t give a flying fig about showing, he simply wanted a squeeky toy I was holding. As I bent down to stack him for the judge Vader popped up to snatch the squeaky toy… smacking me right on the nose! Blood spurted everywhere… which actually was fortuitous. The judge (Klaus Anselm) allowed a change of handlers. Heck, what choice did he have? I was bleeding for Christ’s sake. The drama gave Andy time to get to the ring. He took over and Vader won a major.
A few weeks later, in the fall of 1994, I remember being on the show grounds of the big Eugene Oregon Kennel Club Cluster. The competition at those shows was very intense. The top handlers and dogs from all over the country were entered for this important group of shows (which are one of the last chances to qualify for year-end awards and Westminster ). Louise Van Alstyne was back to handling Vader. The night before the first show, she and Lisa de Roulet were out in the parking lot trying to wash Vader. It’s fair to say the Lisa (a Great Dane breeder, now AKC judge) was accustomed to more compliant dogs, a description which did not remotely describe Vader. I was over 100 feet away and could hear Lisa saying repeatedly, “Vader, stand. Stand Vader! Vader stand!!! I went about my business and after a few minutes glanced over at Lisa. Because of Vader’s squirming, Lisa was drenched from head to toe with the hose. The thought still brings a smile.
I had two other Giants (Dave and Bart) to groom for those shows, so I went about my business. I recall the following day at ringside Andy Linton and I were assessing the competition. Andy was showing Logres’ Outabounz (a.k.a. Dave). We were very confident that Dave would win on the day until I noticed in the far corner (waiting quietly out of the way), a very impressive, correct, beautifully groomed harsh-coated Giant male, whom I did not recognize. My heart sank, as did Andy’s. “How could we beat this new dog? And, where the heck was Louise with Vader?” Andy and I watched as this gorgeous “new dog” won his class… and then won the major. Imagine my shock when I glanced at the armband… the dog was Vader! He had been groomed by Louise’s friend and “secret weapon” a terrier handler named Shirley (whom I had never met). Shirley had shown Vader that day because Louise could not make the ring. He finished with five majors, the first under Bill Shelton and the last under Ric Cashoudian.
Fast forward to 2005, in Gladys and Leland’s care Vader blossomed into a happy, confident dog… bold, fearless, protective, yet gentle and sensitive. In most ways he was the consummate Giant Schnauzer.
Again, from Leland
Last, I remember we were in Pet Co and I had purchased some food for him. We were standing in the checkout line and this 2 year broke away from her parent, ran the 20 feet to where we were as her parents stood frozen yelling “NO” to her, and threw herself around Vader’s neck. Vader sat down and just let her hug him. Sitting Vader was taller than she and his mouth was twice as big as her head. Her parents recovered and ran over. They were amazed how gentle Vader was with her. She wanted to go home with Vader!!!
It seems the past 12 years just zipped away… and now this beautiful gentleman is gone. I know the emptiness his passing leaves. It is hard to let go, but that is the price we pay to have these precious creatures share our lives. And, even with the pain of their loss, I think it’s a good bargain.
I remember the day Gladys and Leland purchased Vader as if it were yesterday. There was never a question in my mind that Vader was the right dog for them, and vice versa. Gladys and Leland fulfilled every dream and expectation I ever had for Vader. They understood and respected him for who he was, and allowed him to shine as a loving companion and a show dog. I don’t believe any dog was ever more loved… and that is the highest possible accolade. They provided the structure and guidance he needed as a young dog, and the love, devotion and commitment that helped him thrive all these years. I cherish our friendship… knowing them has enriched my life. So, I wish to say, “Thank you Gladys and Leland for the wonderful memories.”