In Memory of Maud Hawkes

On Sunday 17 July, Maud Hawkes, Chair of the Health Committee, Breed Health Coordinator and serving committee member sadly passed away after a short battle with cancer. Secretary of the Health Committee, Sarah Downes, has written the tribute below.

Maud’s family have shared an online obituary page with details of the funeral service and have encouraged friends to share memories and photos of Maud.

Maud’s family have asked that if you wish to donate in Maud’s memory you consider one of two options: John Eastwood Hospice (via the Just Giving link at the online obituary). They were an immense support in Maud’s last hours. Maud dedicated her life to dogs, in particular Skye Terriers. Donations can be made in her memory to The Skye Terrier Club for the benefit and welfare of Skye Terriers using the button below.

I first met Maud in 2004, when I started attempting to show my first Skye Terrier. Maud was showing her grey boy, Sven, and was one of the friendlier folk. She never missed an opportunity to talk about the breed health initiatives and the Health Committee! By then, Maud had already owned and bred Skye Terriers for longer than I’d been alive, owning her first (CH Rhosneigr’s Snowball of Skyeline) in 1970. The cream girl became the foundation dam for Maud’s successful Maridale kennel, which made up many champions, the latest being Poika, CH Glorfindel Cereal Crunch at Maridale. Maud moved to the UK in 1976 and continued with her Skyes (among other breeds). With a background in Animal Science and particular passions for pathology and genetics focused on conservation breeding programmes, Maud was uniquely placed to have a positive impact on Skyes and always approached breeding with a consideration of the future generations.

She was also heavily involved in breed health. Through the 1980s and 1990s Maud was involved in discussions on health, including liver disease which kept popping up in the breed. In the early 2000s a number of cases of kidney disease also cropped up and Maud was heavily involved in establishing the Skye Terrier Health Committee in 2006. Under this umbrella, Maud set up a DNA gene bank with the Animal Health Trust and negotiated with Skye Club members to agree that all puppies will be DNA swabbed. In 2007, submissions from dam and sire of the litters were added. Much later, we added a protocol for ultrasound scans of kidneys for breeding stock to assess health of kidneys before breeding. The DNA gene bank is now approaching 700 samples, which is magnificent for a breed with an average of 40 puppies born per year. In 2012, the partnership with the AHT lead to a collaboration between the Health Committee, AHT and Cambridge University to kick-start genetic research into liver disease which had begun in the 1980s. Maud has supported this research not just with money raised by the Health Committee but also with countless hours of pedigree analysis. This research is still ongoing.

This is Maud’s legacy. Because of the work Maud has done, our rare breed is in a strong position. We are on our way to finding a genetic test for liver disease and we have a growing DNA gene bank that will help with any research into genetic conditions. But more than that, Maud has spent countless hours counselling and supporting owners through the most difficult times of pet ownership. She has provided advice on treatments, spoken to vets inexperienced in the breed and collaborated with Skye folk the world over. As well as working for the good of the breed, Maud always acknowledged the unique bond Skyes have with owners, and always seemed to know just what to say to make people feel better about losing their companions. As a community, we are truly honoured to have had her with us and we will greatly miss her knowledge, experience, compassion and friendship.

In Maud’s own words: I live each day with a silent prayer on my lips, that this precious breed will be here for many future generations to enjoy – because of you, Maud, they stand a really good chance of doing just that.