Editorial: November 17, 2023
Every now and again, you meet a person who you can instantly tell is someone special. Lo those many decades ago when we first met Wendell Sammet, it was very obvious that he possessed that special something. Through the years, it never waned. He might not have moved around the ring with the same vigor, but his love of the dogs in his care and the equal amount of love he had for the sport never wavered. Even as he grew into the elder statesman, new breeders and exhibitors were drawn to this New England gentleman, who always had time to say hello and offer a word or two of advice. Wendell — like his fellow professional handler Peter Green — certainly qualified for the Living Legend tag at the end of his name. Few members of our purebred dog community rise to the level of respect and reverence given to Wendell. A Purple Heart veteran of the Second World War, Wendell was held captive as a prisoner of war. From the blood and gore of the South Pacific battlefield to the dog-show ring was a life journey. In his most productive years as a handler, Wendell had a client list of bold-face names whose dogs were cared for and housed in his Bryantville, Massachusetts, home and kennel. A place that he loved and cherished. Foremost was his association with Henry and Alyce Kaiser, whose Ale Kai breeding program of Standard Poodles was under Wendell Sammet’s care. At that time he combined dogs from two very prominent kennels, Puttencove and Blakeen, with great success. Following the passing of the Kaisers, Wendell was the new owner of the kennel prefix, and dogs carrying that banner were found in the winners’ circle and pedigrees for generations. Later on, Wendell began a very successful association with Karen LeFrak. Dalmatians held a large part of his love of dogs and his long-lasting friendship with fellow Dalmatian fancier Mary Barrett. Needless to say, there were assistants to help, and among them were Joseph Vergnetti, John Gannon, Sue Lackey, Danny Jenner, Koko Kaneko, Tammy Jackson, Tommy Smith and Ricky Krueger. Not to mention his long-lasting relationship with Dee Shepherd and friendships with Pattie Proctor, Gail Wolaniuk, Joan McFadden and Glen Lajeski. His longtime and loyal friend Pattie was with him on November 8, the day he passed away in hospice care.
He will be remembered by his many friends and admirers around the world, so great was his fame, as the consummate gentleman and for his unmatched knowledge of the breed and his willingness to share that knowledge. He represented the best of our sport. Rest in peace, dear friend.