Marie Moore Memories
Publisher Denise Flaim’s profile of the late Marie Moore took a close look at the “iron lady” of Mastiffs in the United States. Here, Moore’s former kennel manager writes from across the pond to clarify a few points – and share some recollections of his own, not all of them Hallmark moments.
I was very taken with your magazine, Modern Molosser, and read with great interest your article on my old boss, Marie Moore. You did your research well, and your look into her early life was very informative. There are, however, just a couple of things that I would like to put straight, if I may?
I was actually with Mrs. M. two years longer than it states in the article. I came back here in 1970; in fact, my youngest daughter, Stacey, was born at High Hope in that year.
I met Mrs. Moore during my first spell in America, when I ran the Downsbragh kennel of W.W. Brainard, in Marshall, Virginia. During this time I got to know Mrs. M., and my wife Pat and I would go to her High Hope Farm on social visits. When my contract at Downsbragh expired, I did not want to renew it and came home. Mrs. M. wrote to me several times asking me to go back and work for her. Pat was dead against it, but finally agreed to go.
When she met us at the docks in New York, Mrs. M. put her arms around me and said, “I am not hiring you, I’m adopting you.” When we arrived at High Hope, there was a brand-new Chrysler, in my name, awaiting me. In the article it says she bought me a new car every two years; she actually bought me three cars in the eight years I was there. …
I smiled when I saw the photograph of me with Falcon of Blackroc, and noticed that I had lost half of my head! I consider that I got off lightly as, when Mrs. M. used that photograph for her Christmas card, she had me airbrushed completely out!
Falcon was a particular favorite of mine. I always thought he was a far better Mastiff than his brother, Rhinehart. Falcon had great conformation and a very good head. He was not as tall as Rhinehart, but was better built and had good angulation in his stifles, which enabled him to move with freedom. He was, however, as daft as a brush. He could not be without one of those rawhide bones, which he constantly hooked behind himself with a front paw and then whipped round and kicked the other way. Worked himself into a lather in a hundred-degree heat! When he finally ate it, covered in mud, blood and slime, you had to throw him another one, or he would run backward and forward along his fence all day.
Mrs. M. told me that Falcon was no use as a stud dog, but he sired two beautiful litters of brindle pups with a little help from his friends, Pat and me. I had a rack made that you could secure the bitch on (shades of bondage here!) and that left you free to manipulate the dog. Falcon and I got on well together, and when we had the bitch on the rack I said to Pat, “Hold on while I fetch another lead.” When I came back she said, “I would not have believed that if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. Here he is with a bitch in season, and when you went out, he stood with his nose on the door waiting for you to come back!” That was Falcon.
Falcon’s first litter was out of a brindle bitch that Mrs. M. acquired on one of her buying sprees. When she brought her home, I took to her on sight, so she got to stay around. I called her Bergen and, as far as I was told, her name was Ch. Werburga. She produced six lovely brindle puppies and, later on, Mooreleigh Rachel had four brindle puppies by Falcon.
The Falcon/Bergen litter I lead-broke, took them out on the road to get them used to traffic and people, and trotted them up and down, then stacked them for Pat to go over. Not one of them left the place. So with the Falcon/Rachel litter I never bothered.
Rhinehart was a favorite of Mrs. M. For my part, I wasn’t keen on his head or his temperament. When I first arrived, he wouldn’t let me into his kennel. He soon learned that mine was the hand that fed him, and he pretty much wanted to eat.